Major development partners join Vietnam in building successful circular economy

November 30, 2021 | 14:00
Today, the Norwegian Embassy in Hanoi, its commercial section Innovation Norway, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA) under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) organised a webinar titled “Multi-stakeholders approach – a key to successful circular economy”.
Partnership for a successful circular economy in Vietnam
Vung Tau will receive technical assistance from international partners to develop a circular economy

The event was held in collaboration with Vung Tau People’s Committee, the Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA), the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Vietnam, Norwegian Siam Cement Group (SCG), TOMRA AS, and the Norwegian Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research (SINTEF).

The event spotlighted the attendance of Norwegian Deputy Head of Mission Jan Wilhelm Grythe, ADB Vietnam country director Andrew Jeffries, and VEA deputy director general Nguyen Hung Thinh. The webinar also welcomed the participation, online and physical, of the event’s partners, keynote speakers including UNDP Vietnam, and over 100 people representing international donors, foreign missions in Vietnam, relevant departments of MoNRE and VEA, local and international institutes, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), universities, and the business community who are active in supporting and promoting a circular economy in Vietnam.

Speakers at the webinar shared their insights and experiences concerning holistic solid waste management and climate change; the importance of government and local collaboration to reach circular economy and net zero-emission goals; how to catalyse collective actions and investments in the circular economy, and holistic resource system and solutions for optimised waste management towards circularity and carbon neutrality.

The Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA) is committed to providing technical assistance to Vung Tau city. Within the framework of this technical assistanceagreement, CDIA will prepare a holistic solid waste management investment programme for Vung Tau city that includes waste disposal, collection, sorting, recycling, and treatment, as well as final disposal. It will first prepare a feasibility study exploring priority plastic waste project components in partnership with the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (Alliance).

The project aims to build a strong stakeholder network among international and local organisations, research institutes, businesses, and national government (MoNRE, Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Vung Tau People’s Committee) to manage the solid waste across the value chain and catalyse investment to help minimise plastic waste leakage into the nature. Having world-leading organisations and industry stakeholders in the project could help leverage the knowledge and successful experiences to local authorities in Vietnam in general and in Vung Tau city in particular to achieve circularity and climate change goals.

“Norway’s multi-stakeholder model where the government agencies work and coordinate closely with researchers/academia, private sector, and NGOs in policymaking and implementation has been proven successful in all sectors including circular economy for plastics. We would like to share this model with Vietnam as it has enabled Norway to achieve our circularity goals. The Norwegian participants at the workshop reflect this model of synergies particularly with the presence of international development organisations and financing institutions such as ADB – a close partner of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Asia and the UNDP,” said Norwegian Deputy Head of Mission Jan Wilhelm Grythe in his opening remarks.

“Urbanisation and the rapid generation of waste have accompanied Vietnam’s growth in recent years. Even as many cities have become the centre of economic activities, many of them require improvements in key urban infrastructure and services, including solid waste management. The Vung Tau Solid Waste Management Project Preparation Study is one of the pathways by which ADB is supporting the government of Vietnam toward a green recovery post-COVID-19 and a low-carbon growth strategy. The pandemic offers an opportunity to rebuild our communities using more sustainable models to create a better, greener future for all. And one approach is by transitioning to a circular economy,” said ADB country director Andrew Jeffries.

An estimated 9.3 billion tonnes of virgin plastics were produced globally up to 2019. Out of this, 6.3 billion tonnes have already ended up as plastic waste. 9 per cent of this was recycled, 12 per cent incinerated, and 79 per cent dumped – implying that more than 5 billion tonnes of plastic waste is today accumulated in dumpsites/landfills around the world. This will slowly break down and be released to groundwater and rivers and constitute a continuous source of microplastics to our oceans.

Vietnam has set ambitious targets to reduce, reuse, and recycle (3R) plastic wastes. An example is Decision No.1316/QD-TTg issued on July 22, 2021 by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on strengthening the management of plastic wastes in Vietnam, which targets 85 per cent of generated plastic wastes being collected, reused, recycled, and disposed of; 50 per cent of marine plastic wastes being reduced; 100 per cent of tourist attractions, tourist accommodation establishments and hotels not using non-biodegradable plastic bags and single-use plastic products.

Most recently, MoNRE, in partnership with UNDP Vietnam, launched the Vietnam Circular Economy Hub to raise awareness and build the capacity of all stakeholders, including public authorities, businesses, civil society, academia, in adopting the circular economy principles, creating synergies and integrating financial and technical resources to support the transition towards a low-carbon and circular Vietnam.

Deputy Chairman of Vung Tau People’s Committee Vo Hong Thuan said, “Reducing plastic waste is extremely important and practical. We see this as the task of not only the city’s administration, our departments but also local people, entities, and the business community. Everyone has a role to play. Although we have issued a plan for waste sorting and reducing undisposable plastic products, it is yet to be effective due to the social distancing measures and limited public awareness. As the plastic waste treatment infrastructure remains incomplete, it is difficult to initially collect, sort, transport, and dispose of the plastic wastes properly. Therefore, we hope to have more opportunities to work with local and foreign partners to develop and implement feasible and sustainable models for Vung Tau.”

“Vietnam is among the global pioneers in adopting system changes to accommodate the building of a circular economy for plastics… For it to succeed and to reduce plastic pollution, the government, research agencies, and people of Vietnam as well as the world at large need to proactively implement policies on promoting sustainable practices for production, business, and consumption; waste management towards treating waste as a resource; expanding producers’ responsibility for waste recycling and treatment; promoting reuse and recycling of the plastic waste in tandem with limiting uses of single-use non-biodegradable plastic packages,” said VEA deputy director general Nguyen Hung Thinh.

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2021 (COP26), Vietnam signed a Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh made a bold commitment that Vietnam targets a net-zero goal by 2050. This shows Vietnam’s strong political will to make a significant contribution to keeping 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach, and stop catastrophic global warming as aimed in the Paris Agreement. Indeed, this is the right time to mainstream a circular economy for plastics to use resources wisely, reduce emissions efficiently, and restore the environment. PM Chinh also emphasised the need for international support and cooperation to help Vietnam reach this goal.

At the event, all stakeholders including Norway, international donors, academia, and the private sector showed their commitment to supporting the government of Vietnam in building a successful circular economy for plastics and thus helping Vietnam to fulfil its environmental commitments and to ensure a sustainable and greener economic growth.

By Norwegian Embassy

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