Vietnam wants to develop “Eco-Industrial Parks”

Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) in collaboration with UNIDO, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, and the Global Environment Fund, recently held a conference on “Eco-Industrial Parks: Opportunity, Challenges and Barriers” in Ho Chi Minh City.

More than 100 international and domestic experts gathered for the conference which focused on collecting expert opinions on the development of Eco-Industrial Parks, exchanging experiences related to the development and planning of various projects, and improving awareness and the exchange of information between government policy-makers and the authorities responsible for planning and managing projects.

This conference is part of the “Implementation of Eco-Industrial Park Initiative for Sustainable Industrial Zones in Vietnam” project which is now being executed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI). The project also has the support the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Swiss State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO).

Currently three eco-industrial park pilot projects have been developed in Can Tho, Danang and Ninh Binh provinces. The aim of the pilot projects is to see if they can be developed and managed utilizing three components for sustainable industrial development: economic development, environment protection, and social development.

Tran Duy Dong, Director of the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Economic Zones Management Department said that after four-years of development and implementation that the pilot projects are making a positive contribution to the country’s economy.

Dong said: “First, the eco-industrial park concept has been identified and made well-known across society, from government authorities and policy makers to enterprises and residents.”

“Second, the decree regulating management activities in industrial and economic zones, and related regulations have been ratified.”

“Third, enterprises in the pilot project provinces of Ninh Binh, Danang, and Can Tho have improved their awareness of greener manufacturing solutions and energy efficiency solutions. Hundreds of ideas and solutions were applied in these three industrial parks and 90% of these ideas and solutions were applied and will save millions of dollars annually.”

Heinz Leuenberger, a Professor from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland stressed that Decree 82 provides a legal base for the implementation of Eco-Industrial Parks in Vietnam. The implementation offers a lot of opportunities, but faces also barriers and problems and constraints in Vietnamese legislation.

Professor Leuenberger said that: “In order to implement this, we must have the active involvement of different stakeholders, including the private sector.” He added that the project’s current objectives are to reach a common understanding of the next steps in the implementation of the project, understand gaps in policy and legislation, and identifying and motivating relevant stakeholders as well as further raising Vietnamese decision makers’ awareness of the opportunities and challenges inherent in Eco-Industrial Parks.

According to government figures, 326 industrial parks and processing zones have been established on a total area of 94,000 hectares with a total of $180 billion investment capital since 1991. There are an estimated 50 new industrial parks, processing zones and warehouse zones that are being developed and the hope is that the pilot projects can provide “success stories” that the new parks can emulate.

Le Thanh Thao, UNIDO representative in Vietnam, said the pilot projects have been successful in encouraging enterprises to improve their management and production process towards more efficient and greener methods, reducing pollution and increasing recycling. According to Le, 72 enterprises have applied technology to reduce more than 24,880 tons of CO2, saving more than 429,000 cubic meters of water and 18 million kWh of power annually.