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Natural resources and environmental protection high on agenda

Update: February, 24/2018 - 09:00
Trần Hồng Hà
Viet Nam News

Trần Hồng Hà, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, speaks to Việt Nam News Agency about his commitments to assure Việt Nam will be wealthy and clean

Will you please tell us key achievements that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment recorded in 2017?

In 2017, we focused efforts to achieve four major goals, such as to settle all major problems that had been left over in 2016; to solve policies that had prevented the utilisation of natural resources in production and business, in the course of national economic development; to further reform our administrative procedures; and to draw lessons learned in the course of implementing our policies regarding land, environment, mineral resources and the sea. In summary, I’m proud to say that most of the targets set for 2017 had been achieved.

In short, what we had achieved last year was to aim to turn our country into an industrial nation and be pro-active towards climate change, while having better plans to cope with climate change, and to better manage the country’s natural resources, while being able to protect our environment.

I should say that 2017 was a successful year for us, regarding the issue of land use and management. As a result, we were able to contribute some 12 per cent of the nation’s domestic budget collection through land use taxes, and others.

In 2017, Việt Nam experienced an extreme weather year, with 16 typhoons, 4 low tropical depressions in the East Sea and 15 heat drives in the northern and central regions. The temperature sometimes was recorded at 42 degree Celsius. However, thanks to the application of high technology, we were able to come up with precise weather forecasts to help ward off its consequences.

In short, in 2017 the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) gained many remarkable achievements in the two most important fields of land management and environmental protection.

What are the major challenges that your ministry will face in 2018?

We have identified five major challenges, as follows;

First, there is the irrational and less effective usage of natural resources.

Second, though we have achieved certain gains in land management activities, our land use effectiveness is much lower than that of our regional neighbours. I have to admit that our land policies and laws have somehow lagged behind actual requirements in life. As a result, they have not been able to harmonise the interest between the State, the people and investors – the main reason leading to serious disputes between local authorities, the people and investors.

Third, there is the problem of environmental degradation in waste treatment, contamination of water resources and air pollution.

Fourth, the negative impacts of climate change and extreme weather phenomena have become a large problem for an agricultural based economy like Việt Nam. Adding to that is our limited resources to cope with the negative impacts of climate changes, particularly the infrastructure used in weather observations and forecasts.

And finally, there is the shortage of capable and competent human resources in the field

To overcome these challenges, does your ministry have any plan or measure to fill such gaps?

The requirements for a change in natural resources and environmental management have been written in the Party Central Committee, the National Assembly and the Government’s resolutions and policies.

So, it is the task of MONRE to seize all opportunities presented to it to turn the challenges into motivations for sustainable development, along the line of green growth and low carbon emissions.

For the immediate future, we should make the best use of our natural resources for sustainable growth, while trying to harmonise between the management and effective use of resources for the goal of stabilising the macro economy and protecting natural resources, as well as the environment.

In the long run, it is MONRE’s task to serve as a catalyst in the course of restructuring the nation’s economy along the line of green growth and low carbon emissions.

Land is a precious asset. So in 2018, MONRE set a goal to put an end to the problem of land wastage and to put the issue of environmental management and protection under the umbrella of a market economy. As a result, we vow to pool efforts to create a lucrative investment environment to attract more resources for development and to harmonise the interests between the State, land users and investors during the course of national development.  In the meantime, we also vow not to exchange the environment for economic benefits. Parallel with these activities, we’ll launch a communications campaign to make the general public understand about their duties and responsibilities in protecting the environment.

Last but not least, in 2018 we’ll try to improve our weather forecasting abilities for a longer period of time. For example, to extend the period for typhoons and low tropical depression to 72 hours in advance, or the warning time for an approaching typhoon to between 3-5 days, along with others. — VNS


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