Two projects aiming to combat waste and plastic pollution in Vietnam were launched on the occasion of the World Oceans Day, due on June 8.
The projects are funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad).
The Norwegian agencies run them in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the People’s Committee of Quang Ninh Province, the Vietnam Administration of Seas and Islands (VASI), and the Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, UNDP announced in a press release on Monday.
The first project, entitled ‘Scaling Up a Socialized Model of Domestic Waste and Plastic Management in 5 Cities’ (DWP5C), aims to develop integrated local models of domestic waste and plastic management in five sites in Da Nang City and the provinces of Quang Ninh, Binh Dinh, Binh Thuan, and Binh Duong.
DWP5C is said to collaborate with local organizations such as farmers’ unions and women’s unions to boost waste segregation, collection, recycling, and composting; speed up markets for secondary materials; and join hands with businesses to introduce the circular economy approach and foster investments in green technologies.
The UNDP will also work closely with local authorities to formulate and implement waste regulations.
Representatives from the UNDP, the Norwegian Embassy, VASI, and the People’s Committee of Ha Long City, which is Quang Ninh's capital, also offered personal protective equipment to waste workers from the five cities and provinces targeted by the DWP5C project as an expression of their continued support for Vietnam’s efforts to recover from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The second project named ‘Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge’ (EPPIC) is intended to solve plastic pollution problems in coastal areas of Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Within the framework of the project, a call for applications proposing innovative solutions will open to all member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on June 25.
Winners will receive technical and financial support from the UNDP to further scale up their solutions, which will be then implemented in the project sites with assistance from local authorities.
The project’s first phase in 2020 will tackle the challenges taking place at Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh and Thailand’s popular tourist destination of Koh Samui.
|UNDP resident representative in Vietnam Caitlin Wiesen speaks at the launch of the two projects to tackle waste and plastic pollution funded by Norway on the occasion of the World Oceans Day (June 8). Photo courtesy of UNDP|
According to the UNDP, the exponential growth of plastic and the inadequate management of the resulting waste threaten marine biodiversity and many fragile ecosystems.
ASEAN countries are the largest sources of marine plastic, it said.
Vietnam alone produces 1.8 million metric tons of plastic waste annually, which is increasing at a rate of 16 percent every year while only 27 percent of the plastic waste is currently recycled.
There are more than 900 landfills in the country, of which over 70 percent do not comply with environmental standards.
Leakages from mismanaged waste contaminate the air, soil, and water, damaging the environment and threatening human health, the UNDP added.
Speaking at the launch in Quang Ninh, Norwegian Ambassador to Vietnam and Laos Grete Lochen said that oceans have always been one of the top priorities in Norway’s international cooperation agenda.
“As coastal nations, Norway and Vietnam understand better than anyone else the importance of oceans to our economy,” she said.
“Marine litter is one of the world’s fast-growing environmental concerns, and Norway, as a consistent partner, is actively raising this issue in many global and regional forums including the UN and ASEAN.
“We are very eager to cooperate with Vietnam and UNDP to jointly tackle the marine litter challenge through these two projects.
“We believe that global challenges require global solutions and joint efforts. This has been proven true in the current COVID-19 pandemic.”
Meanwhile, UNDP resident representative in Vietnam Caitlin Wiesen said that plastic is destroying marine life and polluting the earth.
“Tackling plastic pollution will take joint responses across nations with innovations that engage governments, citizens, and businesses at local, national, regional, and global levels,” she underlined.
“UNDP is proud to partner with the governments of Norway, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and informal sector waste workers, to promote innovative solutions that address local plastic pollution challenges in the ASEAN region."
Speaking at the launch event, Deputy Director-General of the Vietnam Administration of Seas and Islands Nguyen Que Lam expressed his appreciation for the new projects.
“We are committed to making these projects a success, as they will bring numerous environmental, social, and economic benefits to vulnerable people and to the country as a whole,” he stated.