Innovation in environmental management is needed to reduce pollution

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The Nam Rom River in the northern mountainous province of Dien Bien is severely polluted, affecting the living conditions of local residents. — Photo VNA/VNS

The occurrence of extreme weather events, pollution hotspots in river basins and air pollution are among the main sources of pollution that have worsened in recent years.

Experts say extreme weather events used to occur in specific seasons, but have recently occurred year-round, even in months when they rarely occurred before, such as severe cold spells in mountainous regions. north, drought and rains in the central region and drought and saltwater intrusion in the south.

In 2020, Vietnam suffered 16 types of natural disasters, including storms, whirlwinds, heavy rains, flash floods, landslides, earthquakes, droughts and saltwater intrusions, causing great human and material losses.

In the first 10 months of 2021, Vietnam was hit by eight storms; three tropical low pressure fronts; 109 small earthquakes; 316 episodes of hail, whirlwinds and lightning; 140 heavy rains and flash floods; 157 riverside landslides; seven periods of extreme heat; and six cold spells. Total damage was estimated at over 1.4 trillion VND ($60 million).

Drought and saltwater intrusion have become more severe. In 2016, people in the central and southern regions suffered the most severe drought and saltwater intrusion in 90 years, which affected 50 provinces and cities. Many localities have had to announce a state of drought and saline intrusion emergency.

During the 2019-2020 dry season, salt water intrusion affected 10 of the 13 provinces of the Mekong Delta, causing water shortages for nearly 96,000 households.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has also reported an increase in pollution in many important canals, especially at the Bac Hung Hai irrigation system, which includes a main dredged canal over 232 km long. secondary canals of about 2,000 km, as well as dams, dykes and pumping stations – covering the three northern provinces of Hai Duong, Hung Yen, Bac Ninh and part of Hanoi.

Due to the rapid industrialization and urbanization of the region over the past decades, untreated sewage from industrial areas, handicraft villages and residential areas has seriously polluted the irrigation system.

The total amount of sewage discharged into the Bac Hung Hai system has reached more than 453,000 cubic meters per day, according to the deputy director of Vietnam’s Environment Administration, Hoang Van Thuc.

More than 58% was domestic wastewater from residential areas. Nearly 60% of domestic wastewater discharged into the system has not been treated.

Air pollution

Air pollution continues to be one of the hot issues of great public concern, especially in big cities, urban areas and industrial areas, especially PM10 and PM2.5 pollution.

According to the Vietnam Environment Administration, the concentration of PM10 and PM2.5 measured by all automatic observation stations in Hanoi in 2018-2020 was 1.1 to 2.2 times higher than the national mandatory threshold.

In 2020, Vietnam recorded 10 out of 63 provinces and cities with PM2.5 concentration levels higher than the national mandate.

The main sources of PM2.5 pollution in Vietnam came from the burning of agricultural by-products, cooking, transport, forest fires, industrial activities and thermal energy.

Vietnam is ranked 115th for air quality for household solid fuel use and average PM2.5 exposure, according to the biannual Environmental Performance Index compiled by scientists from US universities Yale and Columbia.

According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is one of the greatest environmental risks to health. By reducing levels of air pollution, countries can reduce the burden of diseases such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma.

The organization estimated that in Vietnam around 60,000 deaths each year are linked to air pollution.

Solutions

While the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to continue to develop in a complicated way, negatively affecting all aspects of life, Vietnam is expected to continue to face environmental challenges, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has identified key tasks to improve environmental protection.

Environmental protection should focus on building and developing the circular economy; innovative methods of environmental management in digital transformation; strengthen household solid waste management to fully exploit the value of resources; and improving nature and biodiversity conservation, according to the ministry.

The ministry implements the national environmental protection strategy until 2030, with the main missions of promoting the circular economy, green growth, sustainable production and consumption; management of major environmental issues; improve the quality of the environment, the conservation of nature and biodiversity; and build capacity to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The ministry has established a system of national technical standards on the environment, including standards on waste management. Solid waste management will focus on household solid waste and plastic waste with the implementation of a pilot program on classification of waste from sources.

A national action plan on marine plastic waste management until 2030 and an implementation plan for the master project on improving plastic waste management in Vietnam have been published.

The country has implemented a National Climate Change Adaptation Plan for 2021-30; accelerate scientific research and application of technology as well as stimulate international cooperation to address climate change; and improving forecasting capacity to prevent natural disasters and mitigate their impact.

The revised Environmental Protection Law, which will come into force from January 2022, is expected to create a breakthrough in environmental protection with many comprehensive policies.

Deputy Director of Vietnam’s Environment Administration, Nguyen Hung Thinh, said the law introduces a series of comprehensive policies such as a national environmental protection strategy, environmental impact assessment, household solid waste management; dealing with climate change; environmental observation; prevent and manage environmental incidents; and environmental protection inspection.

Implementing these policies will help improve the effectiveness of environmental protection, he said.

Source: Vietnam News

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