growth depletes resources
HCM CITY — 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
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
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.
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. — VNS