Efforts to improve the environment and clean up tourist attractions
Vietnam is a unique country in that it has a ruling communist party that seems to be embracing the market system more and more with each passing day. Vietnam has improved 30 places in the 'ease of doing business' rankings, relaxed tourist visa regulations, given permission for more construction projects than ever before and ramped up its marketing campaign for advertising Vietnam as a tourism and business destination for the future.
All of this growth faces its own challenges. When a country rapidly develops the negative impacts on the environment are often ignored in favour of the profit motive of construction, new infrastructure and environmental damage caused by increased footfall. Vietnam has had its fair share of critics in this respect in the past decade.
One such criticism was the rapid tourism development on the island of Phu Quoc. Luxury resorts are being build at a rate quicker than you could buy a one way ticket to the paradise island. A consequence of this was the destruction of the natural habitat: deforestation and litter started to make an unwelcome entrance on the once pristine beaches and tourist attractions.
Vietnam is now protecting the natural resources on the island such as stone and sand destruction and is also educating the local residents, businesses and tourists on how to preserve the island and the benefits of making such efforts.
In order to fuel Vietnam's economic miracle the mining natural resources such as iron and minerals has increased dramatically leaving destruction in remote areas that are hard to monitor and control. Another show of strength from the Vietnamese government has stopped the mining of Iron Ore in its central provinces until environmental safety policies are in place that limit the destruction of the environment in those areas.
The northern province of Dien Bien also saw problems with natural resources being depleted. The ancient Na Pen forest is seeing a rapid rise in illegal logging and is risking the local ecosystem relied upon by the native H'Mong people for their daily lives. In response to these growing concerns, the H'Mong people, local commune management and central Vietnamese government are together ramping up efforts to prevent illegal logging, deforestation and taking strong action against those caught in the action.
Vietnam is now seen as a progressively eco-considerate country. The are several projects being set up to protect elephants, bears and other animals that are in danger of being wiped out due to demand for ivory, bile amongst other illegal animal based products. The Ngo 'Animals Asia' and the Dak Lak Province are receiving special funding in the effort to conserve elephants. Experts and educators are being sent to high-risk regions in order to maximise impact on this important project.
Happy Elephants - Vietnam's Conservation Efforts
Illegal activities are unfortunately found in many developing and newly-developed countries they do not form the entire picture of the problems with rapid expansion. Increases in tourism, infrastructure and local populations pose many problems themselves. Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) has seen its fair share of problems with water quality, waste, litter and other types of pollution.
Vietnam is already ahead of the game in making improvements in these areas. In 2019, HCMC has upgraded its water supply network: reducing water waste, improving supply, reducing water pollution and improving technology to create a smart water network in the city. HCMC leaders have also facilitated the reduction in plastic usage, introducing legislation that requires business to have effective waste treatment systems. All this is a move to stay ahead of the growth curve and provide a foundation for the exciting future potential for both locals and international tourists.
There are few arguments to the fact that Vietnam is making monumental efforts to react to any environmental problems that arise due to the rapid economic growth being experience in recent years. Perhaps more impressive is Vietnam's focus on staying ahead of the problems that arise. Hanoi has been implementing its 1 million trees policy in recent years and rumours abound about legislation that requires any new developments in the city to plant acres of tress in and around the developments. The city leaders plan to have 60 parks in the next decade or so; many new parks and others are to be renovated to meet international standards and delight visitors. Da Nang city has recently opened a 'Nature Education Centre' in the city that aims to educate students from an early age up to university age about the natural environment in a move to create a better informed generation of people that can support the sustainability of Vietnam's future.
The prime minister of Vietnam has thrown his full weight behind the nations efforts of environmental protection. In early 2019 he set out several environmental goals and instructed high level ministers to address the ongoing issues that need fixing. Rapid urbanisation is one of the key areas of focus due to the relative difficulty in finding a solution and the importance of it to the national economic growth.
Hanoi Traffic in the Old Quarter (Hoan Kiem Lake)
Singapore has a very successful history of maintaining the harmony between nature and economic development. Vietnamese leaders have been working closely with Singaporean environmental leaders in a joint effort to spearhead the future environmental protection of Vietnam. The three key areas they are working on are in water management, environmental protection and development of green cities.
Despite all the efforts of Vietnamese leaders since the ascension to the WTO community, there still remain problems in areas such as traffic congestion, pollution from cars, factories and farms burning crops and also illegal destruction of the rural environment.
Hanoi's Efforts to become a green city
Although there are still problems to solve, you can rest assured that Vietnam has already taken drastic action to not only conform to International Standards of environmental protection but have exceeded expectations resulting in the huge growth of eco-tourism, charity projects and conservation efforts. It wont be long before Vietnam's green cities are being spoken of beyond the South East Asian nation's shores.