Viet Nam will face a range of environmental protection challenges over the coming years despite efforts made by the Government and environment sector over the past five year.
The tough issues were discussed yesterday at the 4th National Environmental Conference’s plenary session held by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment every five years to evaluate environmental progress and map out new goals.
Head of the Viet Nam Environment Administration Nguyen Van Tai said that challenges were made more complicated by the developing impact of climate change. He also spoke of the intractable pollution issues associated with trade villages, and the difficultly in balancing economic development and environmental needs.
He warned that in order to reach the goal of a green economy it would require hard-won compromise and improved human resources in environmental fields, especially at local-level agencies. On average, every commune in the country only has two environment staff, he said.
A report compiled by the ministry was released yesterday, which argued that more of the budget be allocated to environmental protection efforts.
It was estimated that this year, VND11.4 trillion (US$507 million) of the budget went to environmental work. It showed some progress, it is double the figure in the 2010 budget, but the report said more was needed.
The amount was estimated to only one per cent of the total State spending budget in 2015. Yet, the budget for environmental protection in most ASEAN countries is over one per cent of their nations GDP, the report said.
Speaking at the conference yesterday, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung asked the ministry to quickly prepare legal documents to guide the implementation of the 2014 Law on Environment.
Dung asked the ministry to work on raising awareness amongst people and businesses about environmental issues and regulations, and promoting a culture that valued environmental-friendly lifestyles.
Specifically, he asked that public-private partnership be encouraged in solid waste and household wastewater collection and treatment activities.
The environment sector should continue co-operating with international partnerships and requesting aid for environmental protection activities, he said.
A representative of the World Bank said that over the next few decades, urbanisation and industrialisation would continue to add pressure on land, water and energy resources.
She said that climate change is a serious threat to Viet Nam’s development because of the large percentage of the population still dependent on natural resources and living in coastal and low-lying delta areas.
The focus of the meeting and report was not just on identifying issues, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment offered several solutions to cope with challenges.
The ministry said it planned to improve environmental protection policies and the policy-making process to better deal with unexpected and increasingly complicated impacts of climate change.
It said it would also call upon domestic and international organisations to invest in building solid waste and wastewater treatment plants, and encourage businesses to use environmentally-friendly manufacturing technologies that are energy efficient and clean.
The ministry committed to submitting proposals to amend the Law on Biodiversity to set up a stronger legal framework for managing biodiversity conservation, and a final draft of the Law on Clean Air.
Parties to the conference outlined hopes to bring spending on environmental protection up to two per cent of the State budget by 2020.