Vietnam has enjoyed rapid economic growth regularly exceeding 6 per cent in recent years. This growth, however, has been based on a limited number of sectors and on export products with low local added value. In order for its growth to continue, Vietnam has had to increase ‘in a sustainable way’ the local added value of the goods and services that its produces. Goods exported to Europe need to meet environmental and social standards in addition to quality and price. An efficient way to address these issues is via sustainable product design and the promotion of resource-efficient and cleaner production methods.
Towards a Solution
The Vietnam Cleaner Production Centre has been a pioneer in tackling this challenge since 1998. The aim of the Centre is to promote clean, renewable industrial production and consumption by offering clients cutting-edge scientific and technological approaches and services. Since its establishment, the Centre has played a catalytic role nationally in improving the environmental performance of industry through its cleaner production services. These include in-plant assessments, training and policy advice that contribute to the promotion and dissemination of cleaner production. Through UNIDO and its partners, the Centre offers a network of expertise, skills, training and experiences extending across 50 countries that clients can use when adopting a sustainable approach to industry, production and consumption. The types of industries and production technologies used in Southeast Asia are very similar and the Centre’s practical experiences are a major advantage in disseminating and applying the methodology throughout the region.
The Centre begins by helping companies, especially small and medium-size enterprises, to assess and identify how their production affects the environment and their economic performance. In turn, it works with the client to find potentially more efficient solutions and options for implementation that are also attractive financially and have long-term economic benefits. The Centre also functions as a research and reference institution for the dissemination of best practices and learning. It is currently expanding its client base, geographical reach and regional visibility and will continue to offer its tried and proven services through a network of service providers. This has made it a centre of excellence in the region for sustainable and competitive modes of production and a partner for the Government and international clients in this market niche.
The Centre has successfully helped over 500 Vietnamese companies in various industrial sectors to boost both their environmental and their economic performance, including reduced water and raw material consumption and waste generation and the safe handling of chemicals. It has ensured safer working conditions and job creation through the green technology service sector and has helped the private sector to engage more fruitfully with the sustainable goods and services market. Through its activities in capacity-building and Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) assessments in Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, it has helped to start up RECP centres in these two countries.
The Centre uses South-South technical exchanges to develop local capacities and bolster local institutions while it tests and adapts concepts from one country to another. A strong capacity-building and training component ensures the assimilation and long- term sustainability of projects. The Centre also helps to strengthen national regulatory frameworks, for example, through the introduction of cleaner production laws and by establishing national centres of excellence in Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic as well as the National Cleaner Production Roundtable in Vietnam.
The model and approach of the Centre have high potential for replication, given its solid understanding of the local technical context, easy adoptability, and strong potential impact on the environment and the economy. It has already extended to countries in the region, such as Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. All industries and companies must deal with resource productivity and efficiency, for which reducing production costs and reducing emissions are key drivers. The enforcement of environmental laws and the price of energy, water and materials facilitate the introduction of RECP services and the replication of RECP centres.
The main partners include local industries, small and medium-size enterprises, academia, ministries of industry, UNIDO, UNDP, UNEP, ILO, Switzerland, the European Union, SWITCH-Asia, RECPnet, BÁCH KHOA, Hanoi University of Science and Technology, and industrial associations in Vietnam. Some of the partners are clients, donors or facilitators in approaching industries and in offering capacity-building courses.