“BRIDGE for Cities – Belt and Road Initiative: Developing Green Economies for Cities”

“BRIDGE for Cities – Belt and Road Initiative: Developing Green Economies for Cities” event organized conjointly by UNIDO and the Finance Center for South-South Cooperation. The annual “BRIDGE for Cities” event aims to advance the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals as well as the New Urban Agenda.

The 2nd “BRIDGE for Cities” event, which was held in September 2017, attracted over 650 participants from over 136 cities located in 67 countries.

Based on the success of the previous events, we are happy to share with you that the 3rd “BRIDGE for Cities” event will take place from 9 to 11 October 2018 at UNIDO Headquarters in Vienna, Austria. The 3rd event will showcase concrete city cases including urban-industrial development challenges and solutions.

Four case cities – Trieste, Shanghai, Vienna and Chengdu – have been identified for the 3rd event to represent, respectively, the ideal-type of “sustainable city”, of “smart city”, of “liveable city” and of “park city”. Each case city will be the focus of a thematic session on the second day of the event and will organize a booth in the exhibition area to showcase successful projects in the urban development domain, both public- and private-driven.

The registration webpage and the event website for the 3rd “BRIDGE for Cities” event are accessible at: https://www.unido.org/bridge.


106 poor families received financial support from SUPA – a EU-funded project

The first pilot pangasius batch that was raised and harvested in a model farm under the EU-funded project – “Establishing a Sustainable Pangasius Supply Chain in Vietnam” (SUPA) – was sold to give financial support to 106 poor families in Tan Phu Ward with the approval of the European Union.

This is an unexpected significant achievement of the project after 2 years of construction and 6 months in operation of the model farm. It is located at the study site of Can Tho University to serve research, placement, experiment, and professional training, as well as demonstrate new technologies before applying in pangasius farms and households.

Speaking at the event, Mr Nguyen Van Tam (Chairman) was on behalf of Tan Phu’s People Committee, acknowledged the European Union, SUPA project, and Can Tho University for the contribution, kindness, and humanity to help the poor in the project site, especially on the occasion of upcoming Tet holiday.


The pictures at donated event

Participating in this event were representatives of Tan Phu ward, Can Tho University, and SUPA project. On behalf of Tan Phu ward, Mr. Nguyen Van Tam – Chairman, Mr. Pham Hung Thong – Party committee secretary, and representatives of the organizations and unions of Tan Phu ward participated in the event. Dr. Tran Ngoc Hai and Dr. Nguyen Thanh Long – Vice dean of College of Aquaculture and Fisheries of Can Tho University, Dr. Pham Thanh Liem – Deputy Chairman of Freshwater Aquaculture Department, Dr. Nguyen Van Trieu – Director of Centre of High-tech Aquaculture, were representatives of Can Tho University. Importantly, Mr. Le Xuan Thinh, Deputy director of VNCPC/ Project manager of SUPA and 106 poor households presented.


The speech of Tan Phu’s chairman


Representatives of the poor and beneficial households

To close the event, Tan Phu’s People Committee highlighted contribution of SUPA and Can Tho University by giving a thankful certificate. Hopefully, the project will be successful and generate more meaningful activities for local people in Mekong Delta region.


Can Tho University and SUPA received the certificate from Tan Phu’s People Committee


Representatives from all participated organizations


Source: VNCPC Admin

World’s coal power plants consume enough freshwater to sustain 1 billion people – Greenpeace

The world’s rapidly dwindling freshwater resources could be further depleted if plans for hundreds of new coal power plants worldwide go ahead, threatening severe drought and competition, according to a new Greenpeace International report.


The report is the first global plant-by-plant study of the coal industry’s current and future water demand. The research also identifies the regions that are already in water deficit, where existing and proposed coal plants would speed up the depletion of water resources.

“If all the proposed coal plants would be built the water consumed by coal power plants around the world would almost double. We now know that coal not only pollutes our skies and fuels climate change, it also deprives us of our most precious resources: water,” said Harri Lammi, senior global campaigner on coal at Greenpeace East Asia.

Globally, 8,359 existing coal power plant units already consume enough water to meet the basic water needs of 1 billion people. A quarter of the proposed new coal plants are planned in regions already running a freshwater deficit, where water is used faster than it is naturally replenishing, which Greenpeace calls red-list areas.

The top countries with proposed additional coal plant capacity in red-list areas are China (237 GW), India (52 GW) and Turkey (7 GW).  Almost half of the proposed Chinese coal fleet is in red-list areas. In India and Turkey this figure is 13%.

Coal is one of the most water-intensive methods of generating electricity. According to the International Energy Agency, coal will account for 50% of the growth in global water consumption for power generation over the next 20 years. Greenpeace research shows that if the proposed coal plants come online, their consumption of water will increase by 90%. Given the deepening water crisis in the major coal power bases, it is unbelievable that plans for hundreds of new coal plants are even being considered.

“Governments must recognise that replacing coal with renewable energy will not only help them deliver on their climate agreements, but also deliver huge water savings. It’s more urgent than ever that we move towards a 100% renewable future,” said Iris Cheng, lead author of the Greenpeace International report.

Greenpeace proposes three key policy steps, which, taken together, can turn around the coal industry’s water use:

  • An immediate moratorium on coal expansion in regions with high water stress, and a transition from thirsty coal to energy that uses little or no water, like solar PV and wind.
  • Replacing the planned coal plants in the red-list areas with renewable energy, such as solar PV and wind power, would avoid consumption of 1.8 billion cubic metres of water per year in China, and 1.2 billion cubic meters per year in India.
  • Closing plants that have been operating for 40 years. The US could save a staggering 9 billion cubic meters of water by shutting down its old coal power plants.

Source: Greenpeace.org

The Global Atlas for Renewable Energy

The Global Atlas for Renewable Energy is an initiative coordinated by IRENA, aimed at closing the gap between nations having access to the necessary datasets, expertise and financial support to evaluate their national renewable energy potential, and those countries lacking such elements.

Source: assets.inhabitat.com

As of January, 2015, 67 countries and more than 50 institutes and partners were contributing to the initiative.

The Global Atlas facilitates a first screening of opportunity where further assessments can be of particular relevance. it enables the user to overlay information listed in a catalog of more than 1,000 datasts, and to identify areas of interest for further prospection. IRENA is continuously adding information to the system.

Currently, the initiative includes maps on solar, wind, geothermal and bioenergy resources along with one marine energy map. The initiative will eventually encompass all renewable energy resources, providing global coverage through the first-ever Global Atlas for Renewable Energy.

The GIS interface enables users to visualize information on renewable energy resources, and to overlay additional information. These include, population density, topography, local infrastructure, land use and protected areas. The aim is to enable users to identify areas of interest for further prospection. The GIS interface will progressively integrate software and tools that will allow advanced energy or economic calculations for assessing the technical and economic potential of renewable energy.

On the GIS interface, users can edit the map and add several other datasets from the catalog. The new map can be saved under the user’s personal profile.

Users of the Global Atlas can also launch the Catalog directly and search collections of descriptive information (metadata) for every dataset listed in the catalog. These include, the title of the dataset, the source, the contact person for the dataset and any information on data quality. The web map service (WMS) for the dataset is also included for use in third party applications.

Selected datasets are also accessible through the Global Atlas pocket. The app allows to seek and search renewable energy resource arround you or for any point on the globe. Available on Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Phone stores.

Available at globalatlas.irena.org

Vietnam rice boom heaping pressure on farmers, environment

Rice farmer Nguyen Hien Thien is so busy growing his crops that he has never even visited Can Tho, a town only a few miles from his farm in the southern Mekong Delta.

“When I was a child, we grew one crop of rice per year — now it’s three. It’s a lot of work,” 60-year-old Thien, who has been farming since he was a child, told AFP on the edge of his small paddy field.

Experts say Vietnam’s drive to become one of the world’s leading rice exporters is pushing farmers in the fertile delta region to the brink, with mounting costs to the environment.

The country is already the world’s second largest exporter of the staple grain. But intensive rice cultivation, particularly the shift to producing three crops per year, is taking its toll on farmers and the ecosystem.

“Politicians want to be the world’s number one or two rice exporter. As a scientist, I want to see more being done to protect farmers and the environment,” said Vietnamese rice expert Vo Tong Xuan.

A major famine in 1945 and food shortages in the post-war years led to the government adopting a “rice first” policy.

This now generates far more of the crop than needed to feed Vietnam’s 90 million population and has catalyzed a thriving export industry.

Workers load paddy onto a boat for a customer at Co Do Agriculture Company in the southern Mekong delta province of Can Tho. Photo:AFP

Rice yields have nearly quadrupled since the 1970s, official figures show, thanks to high-yield strains and the construction of a network of dykes that today allow farmers to grow up to three crops per year.

The amount of land under cultivation in the Mekong Delta has also expanded and quotas are in place to prevent farmers from switching to other crops.

But experts are questioning who really benefits.

According to Xuan, farmers don’t reap the rewards of the three crop system — the rice is low quality and they spend more on pesticides and fertilizers, which become less effective year by year.

Falling quality

He argues the delta would be better off if farmers cultivated a more diverse range of crops, from coconuts to prawns, with just the most suitable land used to grow rice.

The country should consider abandoning the third crop and focus on improving quality and branding to sell Vietnamese rice at higher prices, he said.

Currently, the bulk of Vietnam’s rice is exported at cut-price costs on government-to-government contracts through large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) like the Southern Food Corporation, known as Vinafood 2.

“Over the last five years, the trend is towards lower-quality rice,” admitted Le Huu Trang, deputy office manager at the firm.

Some argue that such SOEs have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo as they earn lucrative kickbacks from the huge contracts.

A farmer throws fertilizer on his family rice field in the southern Mekong delta province of Can Tho. Photo: AFP

But even as salt water intrusion, drought and flooding increase in the delta — to say nothing of agricultural chemical pollution — it is also hard to convince farmers to change.

“The prevailing mindset is to grow three crops… we have to explain two crops is better,” said Nguyen Tuan Hiep from the Co Do Agriculture company.

Over the last 20 years, Co Do — which is state-run but a flagship model of how the industry could evolve — has identified the best rice-growing land in the delta and helped farmers expand their farms.

They now work with 2,500 families on 5,900 hectares (14,600 acres) of land, enough for each family to make a living — typically the average rice farm in the delta spans less than one hectare.

The firm invests heavily in high-quality seeds and improving irrigation, while also advising farmers on the best chemicals to use.

“Two crops is more sustainable long term — the soil is not degraded, the environment isn’t polluted, and value of the rice increases,” Hiep said.

‘Ground zero’

Climate change is another factor threatening the delta, according to the World Bank Group’s vice president and special envoy for climate change Rachel Kyte.

“This is really ground zero for some of the most difficult adaptation, planning challenges that any country in the world has,” she said.

Nguyen Thi Lang walks among new rice varieties she is developing at the Vietnam Rice Research Institute in the southern Mekong delta province of Can Tho. Photo: AFP

Ultimately Vietnam has tough choices to make, including whether to help people transition from a rice-based economy to aquaculture (fish or shellfish farming) or other crops, Kyte added.

The environmental costs of maintaining Vietnam’s current level of rice production are also rising.

The system of dykes, which blocks flood water, are preventing soil nutrients from flowing freely and over time “soil fertility will fade”, said Tran Ngoc Thac, deputy director of Vietnam’s Rice Research Institute.

Scientists there are busy trying to breed new strains of rice that require fewer fertilizers and can survive in extreme weather.

“If farmers don’t change, if we can’t find a suitable new rice strain, pollution will continue and incomes will drop,” Thac said, adding these measures were essential to save the delta.

Source: tuoitrenews.vn

As Vietnam struggles to attract foreign tourists, more Vietnamese take overseas trips

While Vietnam has been losing its tourism appeal to holidaymakers worldwide, tourists from the Southeast Asian country are valued customers of many tour organizers in other countries as they are willing to pay for overseas trips.


Vietnamese tourists are seen on Boracay Island in the Philippines

Around five million Vietnamese people spent their holidays outside the country last year, a healthy growth rate of up to 20 percent, according to the Vietnam Travel Association.

The figure is expected to continue rising this year and Vietnam has emerged as a potential market for travel firms around the globe, the association said.

“If each Vietnamese vacationer spends an average of US$300 per trip, Vietnam loses some $1.5 billion from tourist spending annually,” said the association’s deputy chairman Vu The Binh.

This is quite contrary to the fact that the number of international tourists choosing to spend their holidays in Vietnam during the first two months of this year dropped 10.6 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.

Industry insiders have pointed to the country’s lack of diversified tourism products, rigid visa rules, and a polluted environment.

But these shortcomings cannot be found in other regional countries.

With Japan easing visa requirements for Vietnamese on organized tours starting late last year, the number of Vietnamese tourists traveling to the East Asian country has soared dramatically, according to industry insiders.

“Long lines could be seen in front of the Consulate General of Japan in Ho Chi Minh City on a daily basis after the Lunar New Year [in February],” Thu Pham, a tourist guide, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, referring to the visa application for trips to the East Asian country.

“You would not see this a year earlier.”

The general director of a tour organizer in Ho Chi Minh City also said bookings for Japan packages to watch the cherry blossoms have increased 40 percent compared to last year.

His company has also managed to find customers for packages to the EU, the U.S., and such regional destinations as Cambodia and Thailand.

The company received 150 bookings worth a total of VND920 million ($42,874), more than 50 percent of which are for packages to the said destinations, during its first day attending the week-long Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Festival 2015, which concluded Sunday, according to the executive.

Many other major Vietnamese travel companies told Tuoi Tre there are huge numbers of bookings for tours to South Korea, Taiwan, and the U.S.

The third annual Vietnam International Travel Mart, the country’s largest such event, is slated to run in Hanoi from April 3 to 6.

Representatives from other countries’ tourism administrations will account for nearly a third of the booths at the event to attract Vietnamese customers, according to the organizers.

Enviable approaches

The approaches other countries apply to attract Vietnamese vacationers could make travel firms in Vietnam envious as they seem unable to receive such support from local tourism authorities.

Many websites of the national tourism administrations of other countries are available in the Vietnamese language, and they provide detailed information on where to stay, what to do, or how to use public transportation in their countries.

“We feel upset seeing that they have such a professional approach to promoting tourism,” the director of a local travel agency said.

While Vietnam has been criticized for failing to introduce their tourism beauties to the world through effective marketing campaigns, the travel agencies of other countries are hugely supported by their tourism authorities to do so.

“The tourism administrations [of other countries] give financial support to run ads in Vietnamese media or to print leaflets or brochures,” said Nguyen Quoc Ky, general director of Vietravel, a leading travel firm in Vietnam.

“Their ultimate goal is to have as many Vietnamese tourists visiting their countries as possible.”

The mayor of the Japanese city of Sapporo has also come to Vietnam to meet with local travel companies and proposed helping them with bringing Vietnamese holidaymakers to Japan.

“He came and asked what they could do for us to bring [Vietnamese] tourists to Sapporo,” Ky recalled.

Vietnamese tourists usually follow the ‘golden itinerary,’ which covers Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Osaka, and Kyoto for their Japan trips, and other Japanese localities are trying to attract these vacationers to their own destinations.

“Representatives from authorities of many Japanese localities have also come to Vietnam and asked us to bring tourists there,” said Lam Tu Khoi, director of outbound tours with Saigontourist.

“They are willing to cut prices, reduce or exempt airport fees, and provide shuttle buses for us, as long as Vietnamese tourists will visit their localities.”

Source: tuoitrenews.vn