Can Tho clean air plan avoids air quality pitfalls of development

Can Tho (3)

The Clean Air Action Plan is an opportunity to consolidate actions so there is one concerted direction towards better air quality in Can Tho city

The development of a Clean Air Action Plan in Can Tho, Vietnam’s fourth largest city, will enable national and local authorities to ensure that, unlike many other cities and countries throughout the region, economic development doesn’t come at the expense of air quality.

At a consultation meeting in Can Tho on February 17, Clean Air Asia Head of Programs Kaye Patdu said while the results of air quality monitoring and an emissions inventory showed that air pollution levels in Can Tho were as yet not particularly severe, a Clean Air Action Plan was necessary to prevent the city repeating the situation being faced elsewhere in Asia.

“We want to avoid the situation in cities and countries in the region wherein development has led to poor air quality. Through our Integrated Programme for Better Air Quality in Asia and our Guidance Framework for Better Air Quality in Asian Cities, we want to support you as you implement your local socio-economic development plan.”

At the meeting, organized by Clean Air Asia, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, the Center for Environmental Monitoring and the Pollution Control Department (PCD), 25 representatives from government departments and Can Tho University discussed the city’s draft Clean Air Action Plan and its alignment with local development plans, and identified priority measures and focal agencies for its implementation.

“This is a much-needed project,” said Nguyen Minh The, Vice-Director of the Can Tho Department of Natural Resources and Environment. “We need to find ways we can work together to address air pollution in Can Tho and share what we learn with other cities in Vietnam.”

Broken into three groups based on the emissions sources relevant to their departments – stationary, area and mobile – participants provided inputs on the proposed Clean Air Action Plan and suggested ways it could be improved and finalized, including a timeline for implementation, the identification and mobilization of financial resources, and clarification of the key actors involved.

Nguyen Truong Huynh, Vice-Head of the PCD’s Division for Pollution Control for Air and Recycling Materials, said the latter was particularly important given that at present Can Tho lacked the staff to undertake a range of air quality management activities.

“In the Clean Air Action Plan, we need to provide clear information on who will play key roles, as well as identify supporters and collaborators for proposed projects and measures, as well as sources of funds for the indicated budget,” he said.

“This project is in line with the national government policy. From the central government, we are collaborating with experts and organizations in compiling and designing a circular to direct the activities of different local areas in Vietnam.”

Dr Chung from Can Tho University said the most pressing issues that needed to be addressed as part of the Clean Air Action Plan were the absence of a strategy to assess air quality risks and an emergency plan in the event of episodes of extreme air pollution, and inadequate industrial emissions-control technologies.

Ms Patdu said while there were several targeted air quality initiatives underway in the city, these needed to be consolidated to avoid potential overlaps.

“The Clean Air Action Plan is an opportunity to consolidate actions so there is one concerted direction towards better air quality in Can Tho city.”