Economic growth together with environmental protection and improvement has a binding and complementary relationship. In order to protect and improve the environment, it requires to have the economic growth, creating opportunities for investment in environmental protection. Conversely, if environmental protection and improvement is properly done, economic growth is ensured to be stable and sustainable. The view on the close connection between economic growth and environmental protection and improvement, and the linking of these 2 categories for fast and sustainable development, has been directed by the Party since the beginning of industrialization and modernization of the country.
THE PARTY’S POLICY ON ECONOMIC GROWTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Sustainable development is a synchronized development among the economy, the society and the environment. To implement all these three pillars, economic growth must be connected with environmental protection and the proper measures for environmental protection issues are also a part of measures for social issues. This perception has become a guiding ideology throughout the policies and direction of the Party over the years.
From the awareness of the importance of economic growth connected with environmental protection and improvement, the Party has had basic policies with the following contents: Environmental protection and improvement must be linked, integrated and reflected in national, sectoral and local socio-economic development strategies and plans; Prevention is put the highest, combined with environmental improvement in the process of innovation, economic development of the country, to pay respect for the rules of the nature; Focusing on mobilizing investment resources for environmental protection and improvement, considering investment for environmental protection as the investment for sustainable development; Promoting the role of corporate social responsibilities and socialization for environmental protection; Harmonious settlement between economic growth and environmental protection and improvement in the process of perfecting the socialist-oriented market economy. The process of perfecting the socialist-oriented market economy requires the observance of the laws of the market and at the same time ensures social justice - placing human welfare in the focus and incorporating closely with the sustainable protection of the environment. This was confirmed in Resolution No. 11-NQ/TW dated 3/6/ 2017, at the 5th plenary meeting of the 12th Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam on "perfecting the socialist-oriented market economy".
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SOME MEASURES TO CONNECT ECONOMIC GROWTH WITH ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND IMPROVEMENT IN VIỆT NAM
In order to implement the policy for connecting economic growth with environmental protection and improvement, Việt Nam has been implementing a number of measures
To renovate the growth model, restructure the economy, improve the efficiency and quality of economic growth together with improving the environment and quality of life of people: According to the Resolution of the 12th National Party Congress on the 5-year socio-economic development plan (2016 - 2020), Việt Nam will focus on "accelerating the restructuring of the economy in line with the renovation of the growth model, improving productivity, efficiency and competitiveness", focusing more on quality of development beside the scope of development, especially investment in science and technology. In the content of environmental protection and improvement, the quality of life of people is the focus. Economic growth is associated with the use of energy, raw materials and input materials through measures to encourage the use of renewable energies, new and environmentally- friendly materials;
Implementation of sustainable development goals: Since 2004, Việt Nam has developed the Agenda for Sustainable Development in the 21st century, highlighting the role of environmental protection and improvement, and the effective use of natural resources for the economic growth. In December 2015, Việt Nam signed a commitment to implement the "Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development" launched by the United Nations, and at the same time, deployed the Green Growth Strategy. To achieve the goal of green growth, the Party and the State have asked all levels and sectors to thoroughly grasp and strictly implement the economic growth connected with environmental protection and improvement. On the other hand, to further improve the law in order to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of supervision, inspection, examination and handling of violations of environmental protection legislation.
To use economic instruments to gradually replace administrative measures for environmental protection and improvement: To apply the above measures in accordance with the market economy institution, as the economic instruments will regulate the behavior of enterprises and the people, ensuring the principle of market that "polluters must pay for causing pollution - or the PPP principle” and "beneficiaries of the environment must pay for the benefits - or the BPP principle".
Environmental damages and benefits must be fully accounted for in the economic growth targets: Environmental components must be accounted for value, including the functions of the environment contributing to the economic growth. Damages caused by pollution and environmental degradation must also be quantified by value. The accounting of the value of environmental components and functions, as well as the damages caused by pollution and environmental degradation, is considered as the basis for the development of satellite accounts in the national accounts system SNA, gradually converts the traditional accounting and GDP index statistics to green GDP based on the new national accounts statistics system, linking the economy with the environment under the new accounting system - SEEA, internalize environmental factors in the annual national economic growth targets. At present, Vietnam is in the process of studying and approaching the SEEA, targeting resources and the environmental components that must be included in the national accounts system for decision making and management.
To strengthen exchanges and learning from international experience, especially developed countries on the resolution on the harmonious relationship between economic growth connected with environmental protection and improvement: To study international experiences and reflect with Vietnam's development practice to take appropriate measures to implement economic growth connected with environmental protection and improvement that has been carried out so far.
SOME EXPERIENCES FROM THE PRACTICE
Over the past 30 years, Vietnamese economy has continued to grow; the issue of environmental protection and improvement is increasingly paid attention to. From the recent development of Việt Nam, it is possible to draw some lessons learned in dealing with the relationship between economic growth in connection with environmental protection and improvement:
To review and assess fully the issues of economic growth associated with environmental protection and improvement, which is the most important basis for identifying the problems to be solved, finding the causes and shortcomings from the reality, capturing the general trend of the region and the world: Regional and international contexts should be considered, in comparison with domestic practices for lessons to be learned and appropriate orientations and approaches to be taken. Việt Nam has signed a number of conventions, agreements, commitments... related to regional and global environmental protection and improvement;
Economic growth in connection with environmental protection and improvement is always a difficult and complicated issue: Although Việt Nam has paid much attention to environmental protection, the efficiency has not been achieved as expected. Pollution and environmental degradation is still on an increasing trend, forest areas and biodiversity have declined, especially the natural forests. The main cause is the high concentration on economic growth, with less attention to environmental protection. Therefore, in the coming time, it is necessary to have a more harmonious solution for both economic growth and environmental protection for ensuring good life for the people;
Initial successes can only be achieved if the correct perception on economic growth in connection with environmental protection and improvement is identified: In fact, in Việt Nam, if the correct market principles are applied in the implementation of economic growth in connection with environmental protection and improvement, the effectiveness could be tremendous. In particular, based on the principle of BPP in payment for forest environmental services, in recent years, Việt Nam has earned thousands of billion dongs to protect forests…
It should be resolved synchronously from awareness, policies and measures: Although there is specific guiding viewpoint, policies and task proposal, the process of implementation in practice is still having big gap in effectively implementing economic growth in connection with environmental protection and improvement. It is a matter of awareness, legalization, decentralization, supervision, inspection, monitoring... This is a series of work to do, each stage requires effective and practical measures to follow;
It is necessary to highlight the role of people, enterprises and economic sectors in the implementation process: Practical implementation of policies of the Party and State shows that the participation of people and enterprises have not brought into full play their internal forces and have not solved the problems brought about by economic institutions. Therefore, along with perfecting the socialist-oriented market economy institutions, there should be strong mechanisms and policies to promote the role of the people and enterprises, at the same time, promote the role of all economic sectors, to enhance social responsibility of enterprises in environmental protection. At present, Việt Nam is pursuing the policy of private economic development under Resolution No. 10-NQ/TW and Resolution No. 12-NQ/TW on further restructuring, renovation and improvement of state enterprise’s efficiency in the 5th plenary meeting of the 12th Central Committee of the Communist Party of Việt Nam. Thereby, it will encourage all economic sectors to improve the efficiency of enterprises and at the same time to take responsibility in environmental protection.
To both implement and gain experience and gradually improve: Practices show that the implementation of economic growth in connection with environmental protection and improvement in Việt Nam has been on a trial and error basis. At the same time, to pro-actively prevent, anticipate "incidents", environmental issues must be a key principle for any plan or project of any scale, large or small;
The objectivity of the natural law, the linkage of natural components, especially in the implementation of socio-economic development planning, exploitation and use of natural resources should be emphasized: Việt Nam has had "costly" lessons in mine exploitation and hydro-power dam building. Therefore, in the economic development planning, it is necessary to look at the issue in advance and integrate environmental issues in the implementation of the strategy, planning and action plan. On the other hand, in the context of climate change, development activities must be based on the ecosystems, especially for the awareness of local managers and socio-economic development planners.
Economic growth in connection with environmental protection and improvement is the content of two closely linked, interactive and complementary categories. Therefore, Việt Nam needs to overcome existing constraints, get lessons learned in the future to implement sustainable growth.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyễn Thế Chinh - Director
Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment