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Community health and safe living environment must be the priorities when Vietnam joins the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)

21/07/2016 | 11:44
That community health and safe living environment must be ensured when Vietnam joins the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is the message conveyed by social organization groups to agencies of Vietnamese Party, National Assembly and the Fatherland Front in the scientific workshop “Trans-pacific partnership Agreement (TPP) from the perspectives of community health and safe living environment” in the afternoon of July 19th at National Assembly Guesthouse, right before the 14th National Assembly of Vietnam.

The goal of the workshop is to provide a scientific and objective point of view on  advantages and disadvantages of TPP to community health and safe living environment. Among discussed topics, TPP’s impacts on health risks from industries like coal-fired thermal power plant, asbestos exploitation, tobacco and alcohol drinks were focused.
Vietnam would not harness TPP’s upsides if environment protection and coal-fired thermal power plant development policies were not revised seriously, said Mrs. Nguy Thi Khanh – the director of Green Innovation and Development Centre. Our environmental criteria system at the present are lower than international ones and implementation is conspicuously non-transparent.

She also said that Vietnam exporting products were tariff-free when exporting to TPP country members but would confront nontariff barriers, such as food safety standard, Malachite Green content, Carbon footprint. Markets and consumers in developed countries, TPP as well, tend to pay more attention to Green standard and low Carbon footprint, especially clean energy when they choose what to buy. Besides bad effects of coal-fired power plant’s emission, Vietnam’s products will suffer a loss while getting into those markets and even be unsold or returned if there is nothing changed in the development of coal-fired thermal power plant.

What is worse is the pollution caused by coal-fired thermal power plant. Through surveys conducted by GreenID in the area where coal-fired thermal power plants were located, there is at least 70 percent of people living around complaining about health risks that they have been facing since the day those power plants were built and run. However, this fact does not seem to be improved due to revised power development plan VII which says electricity from coal-fired plants is going to play the main role in Vietnam energyindustry. “In terms of number, there is almost one coal-fired plant every province”, said Khanh.
 
Sharing the same worry with Mrs. Khanh, Mr Do Van Ha, Director of Clean Energy, raised a question: “Is electricity from coal-fired plants really cheap when we have to spend more on healthcare; community health; air, water and land pollution and other expenditures for damaged agriculture and fishery caused by pollution…?”

“If electricity from coal-fired plants are developed, Vietnam’s air is as polluted as Beijing’s”, “TPP must equate to clean and sustainable development”, emphasized Mr.Ha. Focusing on renewable energy development and using nontariff barriers to stop outdating and poor quality technologies coming to Vietnam are the solutions for energy issues he proposed in the workshop.
    
Mentioning the development of electricity from coal-fired plants, Mr.Quyen Anh Ngoc, Deputy Head of WTO Division, Multilateral Trade Policy Department, Ministry of Industry and Trade, made an assumption that the investors in 12 TPP country memberswanted to develop coal-fired plants, Vietnamese government still had right to reject if this kind of electricity generator was not good for the country.

In the workshop, delegates also got to know that each year in Vietnam, nearly 200,000 people diagnosed cancers. It is the direct consequence of industrial pollution; asbestos; alcohol drinks and tobacco consumption.

According to Prof. Tran Tuan, Permanent Director of action, the essence of TPP is a free trade agreement with the goal of removing tariff barriers among country members. The tariff barriers are left together with the increment of capital streams among TPP countries are expected to promote the development of cross-border entrepreneurs and economic growth of 12 nations. However, TPP also poses a great challenge to community health and safe living environment in countries which have weak economy and lack policies shielding themselves from the bad influence of regional and international free trade.
The scientific workshop “Trans-pacific partnership Agreement (TPP) from the perspectives of community health and safe living environment” is an alarm to people about our responsibilities for protecting community health and safe living environment in the context of our country’s deeper, more active and profound integration.

To protect community health and safe living environment, before ratifying TPP, delegates recommended that climate change was a critical issue that should be brought in TPP to prevent and reduce negative effects of climate change on people’s life and our living environment. Other proposals were made during the workshop, for example the necessity of keeping foreign entrepreneurs’ producing process under community and scientists’ supervisor, including environmentally harmfully solid waste management from those entrepreneurs to avoid the repetition of Ha Tinh Formaso accident.

The workshop held by Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance (VSEA), Evidence-Based Health Policy Development Advocacy Group (EBHPD), Non-Communicable Diseases Viet Nam (NCDs-VN), the Vietnam Ban Asbestos Network (Vn-BAN) and Vietnam Public Health Association.

Link download presentations and documents in the workshop: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0BxVS_1USJUCqWE1ick0zS0hsQlk&usp=sharing
 
 Author: Nguyen Hong Thuy - GreenID.
Translator: Dinh Hoang Ha Diep.
 

 

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