VN-Belgium expert network established for sustainable neighbourhoods

A network on building sustainable neighbourhoods was established between Vietnam and Belgium on Wednesday in the capital city.


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Central Ha Tinh Province’s Phuong My Commune was flooded due to heavy rainfall and floodwater discharge in October 2016. The province is one of the localities most frequently affected by natural disasters in Vietnam. 

An initiative of the Belgian Catholic University of Leuven (KUL), the network aims to increase the sustainability of urban development for flood and drought-sensitive areas in Vietnam, using a multidisciplinary approach.

It will bring together Belgian and Vietnamese university professors and experts in urban planning, sustainable energy, greening and hydrology, as well as architects, engineers, social scientists and project developers to support the building of sustainable neighbourhoods in Vietnam.

Central Ha Tinh Province and Da Nang City are the first two localities where these experts will work to help increase resilience to climate extremes in the future.

The launch ceremony of the network was organised yesterday in the form of a knowledge-sharing workshop at the National University of Civil Engineering (NUCE) in Hanoi.

During the workshop, experts from the two countries discussed flood risk mitigation, impacts of urbanisation and industrial development on rural areas, the role of green networks in urban cities, as well as new housing materials, water management, and how to encourage civil participation in developing sustainable neighbourhoods.

Speaking at the workshop, Belgian Ambassador to Vietnam Jehanne Roccas said a knowledge-sharing network is an excellent idea since Vietnam is among the countries most affected by climate change, and Belgian universities are also working very hard to find solutions to the problem.

“When I went to the sea shores [in Vietnam], I saw a lot of damage, not only from climate change, but also from urban planning mistakes and poor construction,” she said.

“I hope the network will provide lots of opportunities for academics, the private sector and institutions of the two countries to work together and come up with practical, sustainable solutions,” she said.

Adequate attention has not been paid to the preservation of suburban and rural areas in Vietnam in this time of economic development, Dr Pham Hung Cuong, head of NUCE’s Department of Architecture and Planning, said.

Residential zones in these areas are under severe pressure from urbanisation and industrial production, which sometimes do not go hand-in-hand with environmental preservation, he said.

“We want to take advantage of this network to practically assess the current conditions of these zones and identify opportunities and challenges in making them sustainable in the future,” he added.

“Vietnamese experts have done quite a lot of research on sustainable development, but how to turn the research findings into reality is something we need to learn from the Belgium experts,” he said. 

VNS



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