Despite many bilateral and multilateral co-operation mechanisms on water resource development and protection, Việt Nam still lacks the ability to maintain autonomy and satisfy its water needs. — Photo giaothongvantai.vn
HÀ NỘI – Việt Nam needs a national strategy to combine environmental protection with socio-economic development policies, Dr. Nguyễn Ngọc Sinh, president of the Việt Nam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment said in a talk held by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) and the Việt Nam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment in Hà Nội recently.
According to environmental experts, environmental security is a component of national security and a prerequisite for sustainable development. Environmental and natural resource issues can be the root of societal conflicts in society, so resources must be well-managed and potential disasters forestalled.
The Việt Nam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment pointed out that Việt Nam faces many threats to its environmental security, of which climate change is the most serious. Việt Nam is one of the countries projected to suffer the most from climate change, with serious damage predicted from storms, floods and droughts.
Water resources have been badly affected by the impacts of climate changes. More than 50 per cent of the area of river basins are located outside of the country, so many Vietnamese people depend on water located in foreign countries—a big challenge in the current context.
Despite many bilateral and multilateral co-operation mechanisms on water resource development and protection, Việt Nam still lacks the ability to maintain autonomy and satisfy its water needs.
Regarding the ocean environment, according to researchers, 80 per cent of coral reef area in the East Sea is declining, leading to declines in fish populations. In addition, 70 – 80 per cent of marine waste comes from factories, industrial zones and residential areas that are discharging untreated wastewater and solid waste into rivers or the sea.
Natural calamities, especially storms, floods and droughts, have increased dramatically in terms of quantity and seriousness in recent years.
Economic losses resulting from environmental and natural resource issues have been rising year by year.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) statistics, the losses are estimated at about 3-5 per cent of annual GDP.
National strategy on environmental security
Environmental security is considered as a strategic issue in many other countries.
Assoc. Prof. Phạm Danh Sơn, an expert from the Việt Nam Academy of Social Sciences, said Việt Nam’s Government should consider issuing a national strategy on environmental security with a vision to 2035, with a key target of sustainable environment development and preparedness for climate change.
“Environmental security should be involved in the state management of natural resources, environment and sustainable development at all levels, ranging from strategy and planning to sustainable development policies,” Sơn said.
The environmental status reports at national and local levels should be included in assessments of environmental security, he said.
In the long run, Việt Nam should also work to develop legal mechanisms to enhance national environmental security.
Dr. Nguyễn Ngọc Sinh said that the issue of environmental security has not been properly considered for many years. He suggested that in the short term, it is necessary to develop suitable criteria and a set of environmental security indicators designed specifically for Việt Nam.
This set of indicators would guide management and policy making by providing information to managers and policymakers. They could use the information to assess the level of environmental security, and then calibrate policies and solutions to ensure environmental security increases over time.
MONRE Deputy Minister Võ Tuấn Nhạ said that Việt Nam would need to work hard to begin developing measures and regulations to achieve environmental security in all aspects.
“Sectors, localities, enterprises and the media agencies should jointly make efforts to protect the environment,” said Nha. “Step by step we can handle conflicts on environmental security issues related to natural resources, ecological services, recovery of disaster and environmental incidents and trans-boundary pollution management.” – VNS