by Hoang Nam
HCM CITY— The city must maintain its impressive economic growth, but should, at the same time, take measures to adapt to global climate change, an international master planning expert has said.
Speaking at the closing session of a forum on master planning, Tom Zear-ley, chairman of the Pacific Rim Council on Urban Development (PRCUD), said that improving infrastructure was critically important to Viet Nam because of global competitiveness.
The roundtable, which attracted 25 international experts of the PRCUD, began on Monday and focused on master planning for the new Hiep Phuoc–Nha Be Port urban area and District 6.
"With a good urban master plan, Viet Nam will prove that you can manage all development issues well," he said. "That would help to attract more investors." International experts pointed out that the Hiep Phuoc–Nha Be Port urban area should have an integrated analysis of geological, physical, economic and social aspects.
"A careful and realistic cost/benefit analysis should be undertaken to assess the environmental and economic costs of building a solid foundation for an envisioned satellite town in Hiep Phuoc," said Eric J. Heikkila, director of University of Southern California's International Initiatives at the School of Policy, Planning and Development.
"A multi-agency task force may be best suited to the task, combining urban planners, hydrologists, civil engineers, architects, environmental analysts and others to ensure a comprehensive approach," he added.
The port is planned to be built in an old wetlands area, and to prevent flooding, the land has to be brought up to a level of 2-3m above sea level via a dyke construction.
To cope with flooding in District 6, Douglas Webster of University of Arizona said: "The district's flood protection plan should be approached systematically, institutionally and in terms of sequencing and financing of initiatives."
He also suggested that the concept of "Back in Business" marketing was required for developers. In addition, the current footprint of buildings should be altered to improve water flows and increase green space.
"Incentive structures facing households need to be aligned with a flood protection strategy," he added.
Webster noted that "cultural heritage could be an asset in improving the attractiveness of District 6."
Belinda Yuen of National University of Singapore suggested that the city adopt a comprehensive, integrated planning approach, develop a specific vision, list priorities, and create partnerships and financial management plans for revitalisation.
"Promote urban resilience strategies, including community participation in environmental management, smarter urban form and buildings," she said. "Reducing energy use, emissions and urban risk assessments are necessary."
Richard G. Little, director of University of Southern California's Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy urged the adoption of specific planning measures.
"Use integrated planning approaches that evolve to accommodate changing conditions and design parameters, and use climate change as an opportunity to test multiple approaches and consider using District 6 as a test bed," he said.
He also suggested leveraging funding to achieve maximum benefits from available resources, and networking with the city's neighbors to share knowledge about approaches that work and those that do not.
"The failure of a single approach should not be feared. Successful climate change adaptation will result from continued experimentation," he added.
"Contributions from international experts for these two urban areas will help the city carry out master planning against climate change in existing and new urban areas," Nguyen Trung Tin, vice chairman of the People's Committee, said as the roundtable forum closed.
The PRCUD will sent its conclusions based on the forum's discussions to the city in August. — VNS