Environmental protection should predominate HCMC marine economy plan: experts

By Huu Cong   April 12, 2021 | 07:56 pm PT
Environmental protection should predominate HCMC marine economy plan: experts
Part of Thanh An Island off Can Gio District, HCMC, April 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
Experts are cautioning that HCMC's long-standing marine economy development dream should not damage its "most precious green lung."

Ngo Viet Nam Son, an architect with 30 years of experience in design consultancy and architectural planning, says that while developing the marine economy that it has been envisioning for the last 20 years, HCMC should not consider this primarily as a pillar for economic development.

He said that in the context of climate change, the coastal area of the southeast of Vietnam, which includes HCMC, its Can Gio District - the focus of the new development plan - and the Mekong Delta, have been listed among regions at highest risk of damage due to their population density.

Son said HCMC should only boost the development of the marine economy for Can Gio in areas where a large population is not required, like high-tech agriculture, marine tourism and fisheries.

If the city decides to increase the population in Can Gio, it will have to spend a lot of money building dykes and lifting traffic infrastructure once the sea level rises, he noted.

He also drew attention to the fact that boosting development in Can Gio means one of the nation's global biosphere reserve will lie between two highly populated urban areas, making it difficult to protect it.

"HCMC now has a very precious green lung in Can Gio, and we must find a way to preserve it," Son said, adding that the city should be careful and do multidisciplinary research when it targets the sea for economic development and plans to build an international "urban sea chain" by connecting Can Gio with Vung Tau in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province and Go Cong Town in Long An Province.

With a coast length of 23 km, the district has an area of more than 71,300 hectares, 70 percent of which is taken by mangrove forests and waterways.

Son's concern about the reserve was echoed by Hoang Van Huay, former Deputy Minister of Science and Technology.

Huay said developing the marine economy and investing in port and urban areas in Can Gio was a right long-term direction that can contribute to ensuring regional security.

However, the investment projects for Can Gio should apply the most advanced technologies, he stressed.

"Can Gio should be developed with low-carbon urban areas to avoid affecting the biosphere reserve," he said.

A low-carbon urbanization approach would focus on curtailing the anthropogenic carbon footprint of cities by minimizing or abolishing the utilization of energy sourced from fossil fuels.

Exploiting the socioeconomic potential of the marine economy via the Can Gio Bay has been a notion nurtured for decades, but it has begun to take concrete shape recently.

Late last month, vice chairman Vo Van Hoan said at a city conference that HCMC has now decided to develop towards the sea and that the Can Gio Bay should help the city leverage a switch from a land-based to a sea-based economy.

"Identifying a strategic direction for the city to develop its marine economy and have marine urban areas connected with the global and regional economies has become an urgent need now," he said.

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