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VietNamNews

Overlapping policies ‘stifle sustainability'

Update: December, 20/2012 - 10:30

 

Workers produce jackets for export in the Truong Tien Corporation in the northern province of Nam Dinh. More innovation is needed in this sector which constantly needs to be focused on environmental and social performance due to the international requirements associated with exports. — VNA/VNS Photo Danh Lam
HA NOI (VNS)— The rights to formulate and implement policy to promote sustainable production and consumption in Viet Nam have been granted to too many agencies, hindering efficiency.

This was among the main findings of a study carried out this year to examine the regulatory framework for encouraging sustainable production in a nation that has shown strong commitment for the ideal.

Presenting the study's outcomes at a workshop in Ha Noi yesterday, Shantanu Roy, vice president of the Mumbai-based Environment Management Centre LLP, which commissioned the study, highlighted the need for collaborative approaches among ministries to streamline policies.

He recommended that a special task force be established to co-ordinate efforts.

"Clarification of responsibilities and transparency in transactions will ensure proper accountability," the study noted.

Participants at the workshop agreed that there was a big gap between policies in place and real needs, citing the operations of SMEs as a case study.

Bach Tan Sinh from the National Institute of Science and Technology Policy and Strategy Studies said despite a myriad of policies, they had hardly any helpful impact on Small-and-Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME), which accounted for 90 per cent of the economy.

He said when it came to innovation, finance was the main challenge as the expense involved in switching from prototype testing to commercial usage could be many times higher than the research phase.

"It is simply impossible for SMEs to innovate towards more sustainable products without the support of external resources. But at present, such support is limited," Sinh said.

Nguyen Hong Long from the Viet Nam Cleaner Production Centre said SMEs were held back not by their capacitybut by policies that did not fit reality.

He cited the case of tra fish processing enterprises that imported most raw materials from abroad to cut costs rather than invest in research to produce local materials.

"The policy to enhance our competitive edge by selling at as low a price as possible does not make sense because we are the dominant tra fish exporter in the world. We can still sell at higher prices and why don't we do that so we can have extra funds for innovation?" he asked.

Nguyen Minh Duc from the Industrial Policy and Strategy Institute said the bottom line was whether the political will to implement such policies was strong enough, citing the case of his own institute where many policies, no matter how sound they appeared to be, still failed because lack of political will to adopt them.

Nguyen Bien Cuong from the Viet Nam Environment Administration agreed, saying that despite all the talk about sustainable development, it had not really sunk into the minds of decision-makers.

He said, for example, the new Ca Mau Gas-Power-Fertiliser Plant still produced a remarkable amount of carbon dioxide despite new technology.

The study was part of the European Union-funded SPIN project, with technical support from the United Nations Environment Programme and the Technical University of Deltf. — VNS

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