HCMC – Climate change has cost Vietnam 6%-7% of its gross domestic product per year and the Vietnamese Government appears slow in adjusting policies to deal with climate change, noted chief economist of the World Bank (WB) in Vietnam Jacques Morisse at a ceremony to release the WB’s report, titled “From Covid-19 to climate change: How Vietnam can become the champion of green recovery”.
Citing statistics from the World Health Organization, Morisse stated that air pollution in large cities in Vietnam is one of the reasons for the death of 60,000 people a year, causing losses of some US$400,000 for each fatality.
In the Mekong Delta, the rising sea level has led to the soil becoming impoverished, causing losses for the agriculture sector.
In addition, the development of projects without careful planning and taking into account possible risks of natural disasters and weather has led to unfavorable weather conditions.
According to the chief economist, Vietnam can apply four lessons from the fight against the pandemic to address environmental issues.
The first lesson is that the best way to cope with an external shock is to be prepared in advance and move in with early and bold actions to protect the environment, even pioneer in green recovery before becoming an upper middle-income country.
There can be no swap between the environment and economic development as the cost of environmental issues is higher, Morisse added.
In addition, the country should combine vision, capacity and motivation. The Vietnamese Government has a vision and capacity to deal with climate change but it is more important to create motivation.
It is necessary to provide information about climate change in a similar way as was done with Covid-19 to enhance residents’ and enterprises’ awareness and create motivation among them to jointly cope with the problem.
Moreover, policymakers must gain the confidence of residents if they want them to pay attention to environmental problems.
Providing and sharing information is also important to help residents and firms adjust their behaviors.
Morisse concluded that the environment and climate change should be considered the top priorities of the Vietnamese Government if it wants to become an upper middle-income country by 2045.
Carolyn Turk, WB Country Director for Vietnam, also urged the local authorities to tackle the environmental and climate challenges with the same sense of urgency as they have done with Covid-19 because the costs of inaction are already visible and will become increasingly irreversible.
“The recent tropical storms in Vietnam’s central region and rising air pollution in the country’s major cities are a good indication of this fragility,” Turk added.
By Van Phong