Sinh made the remark in a talk held by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) and the Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment in Hanoi recently.
According to environmental experts, environmental security is a component of national security and a prerequisite for sustainable development. Environmental and natural resource issues can be the root of societal conflicts, so resources must be well-managed and potential disasters forestalled.
The Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment pointed out that Vietnam faces many threats to its environmental security, of which climate change is the most serious.
The country is one of the countries projected to suffer the most from climate change, with serious damage predicted from storms, floods and droughts.
Water resources have been badly affected by the impacts of climate changes. More than 50 percent of the area of river basins is located outside of the country, so many Vietnamese people depend on water from foreign countries - a big challenge in the current context.
Despite many bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms on water resources development and protection, Vietnam still lacks the ability to maintain autonomy and satisfy its water needs.
Regarding the ocean environment, according to researchers, 80 percent of coral reef area in the East Sea is declining, leading to decreases in fish populations. In addition, 70 – 80 percent of marine waste comes from factories, industrial zones and residential areas that are discharging untreated wastewater and solid waste into rivers or the sea.
Natural calamities, especially storms, floods and droughts, have increased dramatically in terms of quantity and seriousness in recent years.
Economic losses resulting from environmental and natural resources issues have been rising year by year.
According to the MONRE statistics, the losses are estimated at about 3-5 percent of annual GDP.
Environmental security is considered as a strategic issue in many other countries.
Assoc. Prof. Pham Danh Son, an expert from the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, said the Government should consider issuing a national strategy on environmental security with a vision to 2035, with a key target of sustainable environment development and preparedness for climate change.
“Environmental security should be involved in the state management of natural resources, environment and sustainable development at all levels, ranging from strategy and planning to sustainable development policies,” Son said.
The environmental status reports at national and local levels should be included in assessments of environmental security, he said.
In the long run, Vietnam should also work to develop legal mechanisms to enhance national environmental security.
Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Sinh said that the issue of environmental security has not been properly considered for many years. He suggested that in the short term, it is necessary to develop suitable criteria and a set of environmental security indicators designed specifically for Vietnam.
This set of indicators would guide management and policy making by providing information to managers and policymakers. They could use the information to assess the level of environmental security, and then calibrate policies and solutions to ensure environmental security increases over time.
MONRE Deputy Minister Vo Tuan Nha said that Vietnam would need to work hard to begin developing measures and regulations to achieve environmental security in all aspects.
“Sectors, localities, enterprises and the media agencies should jointly make efforts to protect the environment,” said Nha. “Step by step we can handle conflicts on environmental security issues related to natural resources, ecological services, recovery of disaster and environmental incidents and trans-boundary pollution management.