Environmental managers throughout Southeast and East Asia face similar challenges, and during the week of 9-12 March, they convened at an IUCN VN-supported course in Hanoi to share ideas for sustainable solutions
The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) chose Vietnam’s capital for the second phase of its advanced training program, Environmental Governance and Management in the Public Sector, with coordination and administrative support from IUCN VN.
The course brought together professionals from government departments dealing with the environment in Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Viet Nam, with the overall objective of strengthening capacity in areas of crafting and enforcing green legislation.
“The fast growth if this region is very much built on the utilization of natural resources,” Johanna Palmberg, of the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency in Viet Nam (Sida), told participants. “I hope you can network about how the planet can be used in a more sustainable way and bring this experience home to your various institutions.”
Hoang Thanh Vinh of the Viet Nam Environment Administration (VEA) introduced pecific environmental issues in Viet Nam, as well as management challenges like inadequate enforcement of laws, low public awareness of legal rights, and limited infrastructure, technology and resources for environment protection.
With industrialization and modernization as government priorities, “the challenge for us is how to balance economic development with sustainable development,” he said.
The Hanoi training was the second time the environmental leaders met. They first gathered in Stockholm, Sweden, from 15 September – 10 October, 2008, where they discussed current trends in environmental policy, international agreements, and management approaches and tools.
Each of the participants submitted a project idea addressing a challenge in the field of central environmental management and spent the intervening time between the Stockholm and Hanoi courses working to further their concepts.
During the week in Hanoi, participants continued individual work and presented their projects for group discussion. Topics ranged from public participation in environmental conflict management in Thailand to waste management in Laos and biodiversity loss in China’s Shanxi province.
Participants also toured a craft village in the outskirts of Hanoi and visited the Halong Bay World Heritage site – activities they said reminded them that issues affecting Viet Nam’s natural landscape were at play across the region.
“We are also facing a situation with pollution in river basins and the need for wastewater treatment in China,” said Shi Min of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau. “I think these similarities mean we will really be able to work together now and in the future.”