With determination to change from passive to active action and thoroughly grasping the Government's motto of action “Discipline, integrity, action, creativity, breakthrough, and efficiency” and in line with the Working Program of the Government and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), the task of management and environmental protection in 2019 has made a drastic change from awareness to action. Along with outstanding achievements in socio-economic development in 2019, there are many positive results in the field of environment.
The Government’s direction that does not trade off environmental values for economic growth has thoroughly implemented. Many localities such as Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu, Bình Dương, Đồng Nai, Thái Bình, Thừa Thiên - Huế… refused the projects with out-of-date technologies or the projects with the location within environmentally sensitive areas. Instead, they attracted investment projects using advanced and environmentally friendly technologies. There have been many environmentally friendly and eco-friendly models for the urban and rural areas, industrial parks, trade villages, and manufacturing establishments and household waste recycling models implemented in Hà Nội, Bắc Ninh, Hậu Giang, Đà Nẵng, Quảng Bình, Cần Thơ, Bình Dương... As a result, economic development has become more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
There has been more active prevention instead of passive response in the tasks of environmental management. The prevention and control with a focus on specific priorities have kept down the increase in environmental pollution level and prevent incidents which cause serious environmental pollution. Accordingly, it has strictly monitored the environmental protection activities of big enterprises and projects such as Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Hà Tĩnh Iron and Steel Company Limited, Lee and Man Paper Manufacturing Ltd, Nghi Sơn Refinery and Petrochemical Complex project, Nhân Cơ Alumina Plant, Bình Sơn Refining and Petrochemical Joint Stock Company, Dung Quất Refinery, Hòa Phát Dung Quất Steel Joint Stock Company, thermal power plants…
The environmental indicators have achieved the targets defined in the Vietnam Socio-Economic Development Plan. The proportion of industrial complexes and export processing zones that have qualified concentrated sewage treatment systems is 89% (an increase of 1%, equivalent to 16 industrial parks compared to 2018) that reaches the targets set out in Vietnam Socio-Economic Development Plan. About 13% of domestic wastewater is collected (an increase of 1% compared to 2018). The percentage of solid waste collected is 86,5% (an increase of 0,5% compared to 2018). In 2019, four more protected areas in Việt Nam have been recognized as ASEAN Heritage Parks by the Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Vũ Quang National Park (Hà Tĩnh Province), Bidoup - Núi Bà National Park (Lâm Đồng Province), Lò Gò - Xa Mát National Park (Tây Ninh Province) and Ngọc Linh Nature Reserve (Kon Tum Province). As a result, Việt Nam has become the country having the largest number of heritage parks in the region (10 Heritage Parks). It makes an important contribution to the conservation of natural ecosystems and biodiversity as well as the development of tourism, culture and history of Việt Nam.
Lò Gò - Xa Mát National Park (Tây Ninh Province) recognized as ASEAN Heritage Park in 2019
The campaigns against plastic waste and single-use plastic have been widely implemented. These campaigns have also involved the whole political and social system, business owners and citizens, and thereby make dramatic changes in awareness and actions of the whole society in reducing plastic waste.
On the other hand, there have been many environmental issues and challenges in 2019.
Some environmental-related incidents took place that directly affected people's daily lives. Typically, the Rạng Đông Light Bulb warehouse fire in Thanh Xuân Ward caused air pollution. The discharges causing contamination in tap water sources supplied by Sông Đà Clean Water Investment Joint Stock Company (Viwasupco) became the water crisis in many districts in Hà Nội.
Air pollution in big cities has become complicated. The increasing trend of air pollution has recorded in some time of the day and some days of the year, especially when there is a combination of meteorological and climatic factors or fog due to the increase in air pollution sources. Air quality index (AQI) sometimes exceeded the safety threshold, especially the index of fine dust (PM2.5) that posed negative impacts on people's health.
The amount of urban wastewater has gone up while the collection and treatment infrastructure has not met the requirements. Most urban wastewater has not been treated and discharged into the environment that pollutes surface water sources in cities and residential areas.
The volume of solid waste is increasingly growing. Most of the waste has not been classified at the source. The capacity for waste collection is limited. The rate of domestic waste reused and recycled is low. Furthermore, there are many shortcomings in terms of infrastructure and technology in the collection and treatment of hazardous waste.
The quality and biodiversity of forest ecosystems have declined. The establishment and expansion of nature reserves are slow while the number of wildlife species has decreased. Besides, there have been risks from invasive alien species and genetically modified organisms.
In 2020, all social, economic and environmental targets identified in the five-year socio-economic development plan of the period of 2016 – 2020 will be completed. This will create the basis for longer-term goals towards 2030 and 2045. As the global and regional context is complicated and the competition is getting fiercer, the nations have increasingly focused on environmental technical barriers. Besides, the openness of the economy in Vietnam is high so that there is the risk of transferring backward and less environmentally friendly technologies into the country. On the other hand, in Vietnam, the scale of the economy and the population is growing together with rapid industrialization and urbanization. The raising exploitation of natural resources and an increase in sources of pollution and waste generation have put pressure on the environment and adversely affecting the quality of the environment and biodiversity. It is said to prioritize economic growth, attract investment at all costs, and neglect the requirements of environmental protection. Also, the Government’s direction in which there is no trade-off between economic development and environmental protection has not been fully implemented while the responsibility for environmental protection and the performance of environmental protection activities have been limited and ineffective. This has posed significant challenges for environmental protection management in Việt Nam.
To successfully achieve the targets in 2020 and the goals of the 5-year socio-economic development plan in the period 2016 - 2020 and provide a basis for the management and environmental protection in the following 5- year period, the key tasks should be carried out as follows:
Firstly, it should focus on the development and improvement of the legal system on environmental protection to satisfy the practical requirements in the period 2021 - 2030. The three main missions include:
- To revise the LEP to fully and timely institutionalize the Party's views on environmental protection, meeting the requirements for growth model transformation, making the environment become one of three major pillars of development, and pushing the work of environmental protection to a new stage. The key policies identified in the Draft LEP (revised) include the classification of investment projects and manufacturing establishments according to their environmental impacts to take appropriate environmental management measures. Additionally, the Draft LEP (revised) also defines environmental zoning, classification of investment projects based on environmental criteria, environmental management mechanism according to the project life cycle, integration of environmental permits and certificates in which every manufacturing establishment has only one environmental license. It also clearly prescribes the Government’s responsibility for state management of the environment and environmental management of investors and entrepreneurs. Furthermore, the management of solid waste is regulated in accordance with the current socio-economic context. Under the Draft LEP, the use of economic tools and financial mechanisms are enhanced in environmental management.
- To implement three missions on the development of national master plans on environmental protection, biodiversity conservation, and environmental monitoring. This identifies four main contents, including environmental zoning, biodiversity conservation, a master plan of centralized solid waste treatment facilities and the environmental monitoring system to guide investment and develop economic sectors in line with the environmental load threshold, monitoring, and warning of environmental quality.
- To finalize the system of environmental technical regulations and standards to meet the regional and international standards and building roadmap to apply technical barriers in order to prevent the risks of environmental pollution and transferring backward technologies into Việt Nam.
Secondly, it should give priority to coordinate with ministries, branches, and localities to solve the serious environmental problems that directly affect people’s daily lives and receive huge attention from the whole society such as air pollution in cities, ordinary waste, plastic waste, contamination of surface water sources in urban areas, residential areas and key economic areas. It also speeds up the relocation of manufacturing establishments which cause environmental pollution or not being in compliance with relevant master plans.
Thirdly, it should proactively prevent and monitor the projects and sources of waste which are likely to cause serious environmental pollution. It also continues to promote the operation of the Committee in charge of monitoring environmental performances of large-scale projects or manufacturing establishments. The participation of all provinces and cities directly under the central management should be mobilized to review and strictly control projects and establishments which are likely to cause serious environmental pollution so that environmental protection activities in such establishments are guaranteed and serious environmental incidents are prevented.
Fourthly, it should continue to promote environmental administrative procedures reform so that the implementation of such procedures is simplified. At the same time, it should eliminate unnecessary administrative procedures for environmental management; integrating the evaluation of relevant administrative procedures in the field of environmental protection; organizing the implementation of administrative procedures in compliance with laws and creating favorable conditions for citizens and entrepreneurs.
The fifth task is effective coordination with Ministries, line Ministries and localities to promptly respond and handle environmental incidents. The consolidation and operation of the hotlines for the public to provide information on environmental pollution from central to district levels should be promoted across the country. Accordingly, it helps to resolve environmental pollution issues from local levels and to build the belief in environmental protection state management.
The sixth task is to complete three year - inspection of establishments under the List of 17 types of industrial establishments which are likely to cause environmental pollution to synthesize and evaluate the current status of their violations and their compliance with laws. As a result, it helps to set up the direction of inspection and examination work and increase the effectiveness of enforcement of regulations on environmental protection in the coming period.
The seventh task is to strengthen propaganda and education activities, raise awareness about environmental protection; promote the role of socio-political organizations and the community in environmental protection. It should carry out communication programs to involve the society in environmental protection, especially in sorting waste at source and reducing the use of plastics and plastic bags. Besides, it also should give a compliment to individuals/organizations for their achievements in environmental protection as well as creating mass movements or replicating good environmental models and best practices; thus, promoting environmental protection activities in environmental protection as well as creating mass movements or replicating good environmental models and best practices; thus, promoting environmental protection activities in the whole society.
Dr. Nguyễn Văn Tài - Director General
Vietnam Environment Administration
(Nguồn: Bài đăng trên Tạp chí Môi trường số Chuyên đề Tiiếng Anh I/2020)