This will be challenging for Viet Nam’s elite, who are enjoying the county’s recent increase in global status. Interviewing representatives of this elite group in 2013/14 when trying to understand the motivations for using rhino horn, the quest for enhanced status was a key driver for using or gifting rhino horn; status, and as a result status anxiety, resonates very strongly with this group. We used this insight throughout our rhino horn demand reduction campaigns in Viet Nam.
For example, our 2015 Breaking the Brand RhiNo campaign: What Does A Wildlife Criminal Look Like? pointed out to the Vietnamese elite if your reputation is damaged it may impact future professional opportunities. This included highlighting the greater scrutiny of Viet Nam’s business elite because of stepping onto the world stage.
So, where is the link between the use of rhino horn and Viet Nam’s loss of the F1? Accepted behaviours become established based on what is punished, what is rewarded, and primarily by what is tolerated. There is a reason for the statement “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
In the first instance this lack of holding people to account is typically linked to issues most people don’t care about (or have little profile), such as the use of rhino horn. But once entrenched, bad behaviour becomes pervasive and increasingly visible as it starts to effect areas that matter to more-and-more people. This is the case with Viet Nam receiving F1 endorsement as one of only a small number of countries worldwide to receive a licence to run this global spectacular.