Innovation in environmental management is needed to reduce pollution

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The environment is under great pressure from socio-economic activities with increasing environmental pollution both in quantity and scale, calling for more effective solutions to deal with the problem.

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

The onset of extreme weather conditions, pollution hot spots in river basins and air pollution are among the main sources of pollution that have worsened in recent years.

Extreme weather events used to occur in certain seasons, experts say, but have recently occurred all year round, even in months where they had rarely occurred before, such as severe cold spells in the city. the mountainous regions of the north, drought and rains in the central region and drought and salt water intrusion in the south.

In 2020, Vietnam suffered 16 types of natural disasters, including storms, eddies, heavy rains, flash floods, landslides, earthquakes, droughts and salt water 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 attacks of hail, tornadoes and lightning; 140 heavy rains and flash floods; 157 landslides along rivers; seven episodes of extreme heat; and six cold spells. The total damage was estimated at more than 1.4 trillion dong ($ 60 million).

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

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

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has also reported an increase in pollution in many large canals, especially in the Bac Hung Hai irrigation system, which includes a main dredged canal of over 232 km, secondary canals of about 2,000 km, as well as dams, dikes 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, craft villages and residential areas has severely 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 head of the Vietnamese Environment Administration, Hoang Van Thuc.

Over 58 percent was domestic wastewater from residential areas. Almost 60% of the domestic wastewater discharged into the system was not treated.

Air pollution

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

According to the Vietnamese Environment Administration, the concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 measured by all automatic observation stations in Hanoi in 2018-2020 were 1.1 to 2.2 times above the mandatory national threshold.

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

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

Vietnam is ranked 115th for air quality for domestic use of solid fuels and average exposure to PM2.5, according to the biennial environmental performance index compiled by scientists at US universities Yale and Columbia.

According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is one of the greatest environmental health risks. 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 were linked to air pollution.

Solutions

While the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to continue to develop in complicated ways, 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 must focus on the construction and development of the circular economy; the innovation of environmental management methods in the digital transformation; strengthen the management of household solid waste to take full advantage of the value of the resources; and improving nature conservation and biodiversity, according to the ministry.

The ministry is implementing the national environmental protection strategy until 2030, with the main missions of promoting the circular economy, green growth, sustainable production and consumption; manage major environmental issues; improving the quality of the environment, conserving nature and biodiversity; and build capacity to deal with 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 the classification of waste from sources.

A national action plan on the management of marine plastic waste until 2030 and an implementation plan of the framework project on the improvement of 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 the application of technology as well as stimulate international cooperation to deal with 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.

Vietnamese Environmental Administration Deputy Chief Nguyen Hung Thinh said the law introduced a series of comprehensive policies such as a national environmental protection strategy, environmental impact assessment, management of household solid waste; deal with climate change; environmental observation; prevent and manage environmental incidents; and environmental protection inspection.

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

Source: Vietnam News

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