The People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) on August 24 organized…
Experts have decried the excessive focus on economic development that has severely depleted the nation’s natural resource base, and called for urgent measures to redress the problem.
Ways to balance the country’s socio-economic development with preservation and efficient use of natural resources topped the agenda of a two-day conference that ended Wednesday in HCM City.
The conference on Environmental Policy in the Context of Development in Viet Nam was organised by PanNature (People and Nature Reconciliation), a Vietnamese non-profit organisation established by Vietnamese environmental professionals with support from the Ford Foundation.
Nguyen Ngoc Tran, former deputy head of the National Assembly’s External Relations Committee, said many localities had paid more attention to economic development than environmental issues. As a result, environmental pollution had seriously increased, becoming a big challenge during the development process.
Pham Quang Tu, director of the Institute for Development Consultancy, agreed with Tran, saying that the lack of a master plan and supervisory mechanism for natural resources exploitation had contributed to the degrading of the country’s ecosystems.
“Besides, the law on environmental protection contains many loopholes and unreasonable regulations while penalties are not heavy enough to prevent people from violating the rules,” Tu added.
Participants at the meeting agreed that in the context of globalisation, the nation’s legal system on social-economic development and environmental protection must be more comprehensive to ensure sustainable development.
Calling for investment was a top priority for developing the country, but it should not mean that the country was willing to sacrifice the environment, they said.
Tran said: “To develop sustainably, we must pay special attention to protecting the environment; and use and maintain natural resources reasonably, otherwise it would have serious consequences for our next generations.”
He suggested that relevant agencies from the central to grassroot levels co-ordinate with each other in planning investment projects and monitoring compliance of environmental protection regulations by enterprises.
Authorities should encourage the development of clean production projects to reduce adverse impacts on the environment, Tran said. He also emphasised the role of the mass media in raising awareness of the people, the community and senior administrators about the need for environmental protection.
Regarding plans by some localities to put “low-value” forests to other uses, Nguyen Chi Thanh, former director of the Southern Forest Planning and Investigation Sub-institute, recommended that they carefully conduct a cost-benefit analysis before making such decisions.