The United Nations Environment Programme raised the question: "Green growth: Does it include you?" as a global theme for this year's celebration. The discussion seemed to be quite positive at a televised ceremony held at Bai Chay Youth Summer Camp overlooking the stunning Ha Long Bay. About 1,000 participants from all walks of life, including Government leaders, local leaders, workers and youth, braved the scorching sun to attend this outdoor activity.
This year's host site lends itself well to the theme, highlighting the importance of green growth against the backdrop of ever-serious environment pollution and resource depletion. The northern coastal province of Quang Ninh epitomises the classical development-environment dilemma which developing countries like Vietnam face. Quang Ninh is home to Ha Long Bay – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also acts as the major manufacturing site for some of the most resource-intensive industries, particularly coal mining.
As Minister of Natural Resource and the Environment Nguyen Minh Quang conceded, the economic development over the past few decades, while bringing in remarkable growth, had also increasingly wrought havoc on the environment, recently exacerbated by the negative impacts of climate change. This, in turn, undid some socio-economic achievements.
According to the ministry's national research, the total economic loss as a result of environment pollution accounted for at least 1.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. In addition, each year the health cost of environmental pollution was estimated to be $780 million.
Addressing the national meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai affirmed Vietnam's strong commitment in pursuing the green growth model towards more sustainable development that would enable Vietnam to achieve economic growth without compromising goals of social equity and environmental protection.
Hai said Vietnam had taken concrete steps to lay the foundation for a green economy. For example, Vietnam has put in practice the Law on Energy Conservation and Efficiency and cleaner production strategy until 2030, is developing a green growth strategy for 2011-20, and is considering amendments to the Environment Protection Law to better adapt itself to the new reality.
The Deputy Prime Minister on this occasion called for everyone from every sector to engage in building a green economy with low carbon emissions, resource efficiency and social inclusion. What is no less important is for people to adopt a green lifestyle and better resource consumption behaviours.
Following the meeting, Hai joined the youth and soldiers in planting mangroves at Ha Phong Ward, Ha Long City.