Young Vietnamese keen on adopting, sharing green lifestyle

A number of young Vietnamese joined a green tour on Saturday to Dong Nai Province, which neighbors Ho Chi Minh City, as one of GetGreen Vietnam’s activities to promote a green lifestyle and sustainable consumption.


The group went to Kingfisher Nest Tourism Complex in Vinh Cuu District

GetGreen Vietnam is a project promoting sustainable consumption in the country which focuses on sustainable living and working for middle-income consumers in urban areas, according to its website.

Like its sister project SPIN (Sustainable Product Innovation), GetGreen Vietnam is also co-funded by the SWITCH-Asia Program of the European Union and implemented by the Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology, Vietnam Cleaner Production Center, and the Asian Institute of Technology in Vietnam.

The project is aimed at developing consumption groups which are aged from 18 to 45 and include students or office workers in a sustainable consumer community and at launching campaigns to promote environmental protection and combat climate change.

The project costs a total of €1.4 million, of which 80 percent is funded by the SWITCH-Asia Program of the European Union, and 20 percent comes as corresponding funds from the project’s partners, its website added.

Its implementation time is three years from April 2012.

A social network called “Song Xanh” (Green Living) is selected as GetGreen Vietnam’s partner.

Each group joins six get-togethers a week, which are centered on two topics: urban farming, recycling, saving energy, smart traffic, green offices and smart bathrooms/kitchens.

The activities aim to bring about changes among the members’ behavior and lifestyle before they themselves help change others.

Late last month, the members had enjoyable, beneficial urban farming experiences at Saigon Garden, which is located on the rooftop of the Saigontourist Hotel in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City.

Apart from seeing for themselves organic planting methods, the youths also adopted the model at their own homes.

Nguyen Le Toan, who loves gardening, shared the experiences taught him how to safely grow aromatic herbs and fruits on his home’s terrace.

They also took great delight in learning how to process food leftovers, such as turning remaining rice into mouth-watering fried rice, or leftover chunks of chicken into sizzling porridge.

“Discarded leftovers account for up to 30 percent of the total amount of food which we buy and spend time processing, while we can easily make use of them,” the members said.

They also learn to make the best of natural, environmentally- and people-friendly detergents such as lemons, salt and coconut oil to wipe out stains instead of using conventional chemical products.

The members are also interested in whether turning off their bike engine while waiting for red lights to turn green is beneficial regarding energy conservation and emission cut, among other various traffic issues.

Nguyen My, director of MMSoft, said she will coordinate with the social network “Song Xanh” to build a green corporate culture and lifestyle.

MMSoft is an IT consulting company where several of GetGreen Vietnam’s sessions were held.

Bui Viet Ha, chair of “Song Xanh,” revealed that after the GetGreen Vietnam project ends in April 2015, his social network will continue what the project is doing now.


Germany grants loan worth 200 mln euros for Vietnam’s energy sector

Germany has offered a loan worth 200 million euros for Vietnam’s energy sector during a recent visit by Dr. Friedrich Kitschelt, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, to Vietnam.


Dr. Friedrich Kitschelt, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, poses for a group picture in his visit to Lilama 2 vocational school in the southern province of Dong Nai during his visit to Vietnam from November 28- December 3, 2014. (Photo courtesy of the The German Embassy in Hanoi).

Dr. Kitschelt’s working trip, which lasted from November 28 to December 3, focused on the three following areas: vocational training, energy and environment.

During the visit, the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany granted the preferential loan package aimed at modernizing the network transmission and distribution of electricity in medium and small cities in Vietnam.

“Efficient energy use is the focus area in green growth strategy of Vietnam. We believe that improved power grids applying new technologies will reduce energy consumption and reduce CO2 emissions during transmission, while ensuring the supply of electricity at low cost,” said Dr. Kitschelt.

“Thereby, Germany has contributed significantly to securing supplies as well as regional economic development and environmental protection for Vietnam,” he added.

During the six-day visit, State Secretary Kitschelt also witnessed the signing of a loan agreement worth 100 million euros with the Ministry of Finance of Vietnam for the improvement of the power grids in the capital city of Hanoi.

In addition, State Secretary Kitschelt also joined high-level talks with the Minister of Planning and Investment and the Vice Minister of Finance about policies to promote the private sector, as well as the framework conditions for economic development in Vietnam in the future in accordance with the National Strategy for Green Growth.

State Secretary Kitschelt also visited a Germany – Vietnam vocational training project and lauded the close cooperation between vocational training centers and German Bosch Group.

“During the vocational training, young students participating in the enterprise will accumulate experiences and best practices. As a result not only the participants, but also the businesses that invest in the training process will benefit from the training process, because after graduation they can start work right away,” said the German State Secretary.

During the high-level talks, the German State Secretary also proposed that the government of Vietnam create conditions for local enterprises to adapt this training model.


Sustainable Pangasius supply chain in Vietnam

The EU co-funded project (SUPA) has being implemented by Vietnam Cleaner Production Centre (VNCPC), along with project’s partners: WWF Vietnam, WWF Austria and Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), aimed to promote sustainable and environmentally friendly Pangasius production in Viet Nam.

Green Growth on the Agenda for Vietnam PM’s Brussels Visit

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung shakes hands with Belgian officials after arriving at Brussels Military Airport on October 12. 2014. Photo credit: Vietnam News Agency

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung arrived in Belgium for the first leg of his week-long Europe visit on Sunday afternoon.

The visit was made at the invitation of Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.

The two sides are scheduled to seek measures to foster bilateral partnership in various areas, including freight transportation, logistics, green growth and hi-tech industries, Vietnam News Agency reported.

PM Dung will also visit the European Union (EU), Germany and the Vatican to discuss ways to further beef up the cooperation between Vietnam and its European partners.

He will also attend the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting themed “Responsible Partnership for Growth and Security” in Italy from October 16 to 17.

He is accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Nguyen Van Nen, Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang, Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son and other senior officials.

Vietnam and the 28-member European Union established diplomatic relations in 1990. The two sides signed a framework Partnership and Co-operation Agreement and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement negotiations are underway.

Vietnam has set up strategic partnerships with six EU members – the UK, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, France and Italy.

Trade is a pillar of ties between the two sides, since the EU is Vietnam’s second-largest trading partner and top export market for Vietnam.


Vietnam officials: Time for pangasius sector to focus on quality, not quantity


The balance between quality and quantity in the Vietnamese pangasius industry has not been right thus far, admitted deputy director general of the directorate of fisheries, Pham Anh Tuan.

Producers have not done a good job either of ensuring standards in the race to expand, or of addressing the needs of the local market while it focused efforts on the US, EU and Japan, said Tuan, addressing the GOAL 2014 conference in Ho Chi Minh.

Now is the time for industry to consider a restructure, added Vo Thi Thu Huong of the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The production growth rate has finally slowed following a rapid increase since 2000, and as input costs have risen (largely on feed), demand in key markets, and so prices, have fallen.

“Now is the time to think about restructuring, with a focus on quality and certifications,” said Huong. The Vietnamese government has been supportive of pangasius already, with its decree 36 turning the industry into a strongly regulated one, she said.

“I hope this support continues, and from exporters and buyers in other countries too. We need to shift focus to a better quality product, adding value to our exports.”

The monitoring of producers should remain a priority, added Tuan. “For too long producers focused on increasing volumes, and on their revenues, at the cost of quality and sustainable development.”

Huong called for cooperation and a multi-stakeholder approach in bringing small scale farmers up to the necessary standards, and was one of many speakers to praise the model being introduced by National Fish and Seafood of clustering small farmers.

Among challenges faced by the pangasius industry, Tuan noted disease was almost as great a threat for the whitefish as it is for shrimp – for which total sales are expected to reach $3.5 million in 2014, up from $3.3m last year.

Production costs for pangasius, going towards feed, chemicals, and the cost of upgrading to intensive production, now add up to around 80% of the selling price, he said.

Tuan echoed Minh Phu chairman Le Van Quang in speaking about the pressures, and costs, on producers trying to catch up to certification standards. He too suggested that one harmonized scheme could save companies, and end consumers, money.

Vietnam aims to have 100% of its pangasius farms certified to its own VietGAP standard by December 2015, and this will need to be benchmarked against the many other standards, he said.

Source: Neil Ramsden,

8 lessons from Egypt in building a cleaner chemicals industry

The technology is there to reduce the environmental impact of Egypt’s chemical sector, but finance and capacity are still lacking.

Feluccas on Nile River
The Nile River is Cairo’s main source of water but how clean is it when factories are discharging untreated effluent into its waters? Photograph: Dallas and John Heaton/Alamy

In previous blogs, I have looked at the impacts of the chemicals sectorand innovations like green chemistry. But how do we share the technologies that are making the chemicals sector more sustainable, especially in rapidly emerging countries?

To answer this question, I’m going to shine the spotlight on Egypt – where factories are discharging 2.5m cubic metres of untreated effluent into the rivers every day, much of it laced with toxic chemicals. The country also faces a water and energy crisis. But three Egyptian companies are tackling these environmental issues through technology adoption and transfer.

The first is Arab Steel Fabrication Company (El Sewedy), which has applied a technological solution to recover hydrochloric acid from its galvanisation process. Besides the obvious environmental benefits, the company is saving 345,000 Egyptian pounds (£30,000) a year. The second company, Mac Carpet, has used technology to create an automatic system for recycling of thickener agents, which saves it about EGP5m per year.

The third case is El Obour for Paints and Chemical Industries (Pachin), which manufactures paints, inks and resins. As with many chemical companies, the manufacturing process is very energy intensive. As part of a government programme to promote renewable energy in Egypt (part-funded by the EU), a technology company in Germany has installed solar collectors at the Pachin facility. These heat the water to 65C, then by using a heat exchanger, recover the heat and use it to keep the fatty acid store at an optimal temperature, saving the company EGP100,000 a year.

In all three cases, there are lessons to be learned.

1. Economic drivers

When asked about the top three benefits from implementing sustainable technology, El Sewedy and Mac Carpet Company both mentioned resource productivity and economic development. Environmental improvement was also a key factor (in the top three for both), but would have been insufficient on its own to motivate the technology change.

2. Skills development

Significant barriers to technology adoption for both companies were the lack of local qualified workers and institutional capacity. To overcome this, the technology provider and the Egyptian National Cleaner Production Centre (ENCPC) had to do training. Ali Abo Sena, an ENCPC representative, said that education was needed not only on the specific technologies, but also more broadly on the seriousness of the water crisis in Egypt.

3. Business continuity

For Pachin, energy consumption is not just an environmental issue, but one that is business critical. In 2013, the Egyptian government announced plans to ration subsidies for petrol and diesel fuel, and hiked fuel prices for heavy industry by 33% at the beginning of the year. Power outages have become more commonplace, resulting in significant disruption to business continuity and loss of economic value.

4. Market potential

The German solar company was prepared to part-fund, install and support the technology transfer to Pachin in Egypt because it enabled them to show a working demonstration of a project in a market that has massive potential for the business. The marketing benefits of sustainable technology in developing countries should not be underestimated.

5. Macro conditions

It is unlikely that the Pachin project would have been embraced so enthusiastically had Egypt not experienced an energy crisis – and accompanying rises in energy costs – in recent years. Although these macro conditions are beyond the control of sustainable technology providers, being sensitive to the opportunities that they can provide can help ensure that the correct markets are chosen for deployment.

6. Financial support

Although long-term economic development is an important benefit of the adoption of sustainable technologies, the high initial cost of the these projects and the relatively long payback period can be a significant barrier. In the case of Pachin, this was overcome by getting financial support for the project (from the EU and the technology provider).

7. Plan for scaling

A lack of qualified workers to install, operate and maintain Pachin’s solar technology was overcome by providing the relevant skills training. However, in order to ensure future scaling, a plan was also devised for moving towards local manufacturing (possibly through a joint-venture).

8. Local adaptation

The ENCPC – working as an intermediary – determined that the German solar technology was over-engineered for the local conditions. In particular, since the technology was made in Germany and had to comply with EU specifications and perform in a region with ambient sunlight, it was found that the insulation materials could be replaced with less expensive substitutes, which performed adequately under local conditions.

Major reductions in the environmental impacts of the chemicals industry – as well as economic benefits – can be achieved by adopting and transferring existing best practice sustainable technologies. The problem, therefore, is not our lack of sustainable technologies, but our ability to finance, incentivise and build capacity for their deployment where they are most needed in the world.

Source: ,