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Thursday, 23 April 2020 09:04
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Development of a green economy in Vietnam in the context of global climate change

(LLCT) - Given that the “brown economy” model is destroying the environment and depleting resources, developed countries have gradually shifted to a “green economy”. Greening development is defined as a way and means to implement sustainable development in the context of climate change. Vietnam is one of several countries strongly affected by global climate change. The issuance and implementation of the National Strategy on Green Growth and the National Strategy on climate change with a vision to 2045 has shown the political determination of the Party and the State in developing a green economy associated with the country's sustainable development.

Keywords: green economy, green economy development in Vietnam.

1. The concept of green economy

The term “green economy” was officially used by the international community at the United Nations Conference on sustainable development (June 2012) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Rio +20). Before that, the adjective “green” had been used quite a lot in association with many activities geared towards sustainable development - green production, green consumption, green lifestyle, and green products - with the main meaning being “friendly with the environment”.

There are many different definitions of a green economy. The definition from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP, 2011) in the book Towards a Green Economy - Roadmap for Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction has been cited the most by scholars in Vietnam: “A green economy is one that enhances people’s lives and improves social justice while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological deficiency. Simply speaking, a green economy allows for low emissions, efficient use of resources and social justice”(1).

So far, the concept and perception of a green economy are still not really clear. There are many different ways of understanding and interpreting it. Western countries identify it as having a green economic model; developing countries orient towards a green growth strategy (China has carried out a transformation using an economic development method with a focus on green development and building ecological civilization as the key. Thailand is using a “sufficient economic model”).

Regardless of the approach, the concepts are unanimous in recognizing that a green economy consists of three pillars: economic development (issues of economic growth and employment), environmental sustainability (carbon energy reduction and degree of depletion of natural resources), and social cohesion (assurance of the poverty reduction targets and equality before the opportunities created by the green economy, bringing about a healthy living environment).

Thus, a green economy and sustainable development are closely related, with the concept of a green economy coming after discussions on climate change. The green economy not only includes economic targets but, more importantly, also extends to social and ecological environment targets. Indeed, a green economy also has sustainable development and, more specifically, it is a way of expressing sustainable development in the context of climate change, heavily emphasizing environmental resources. In a green economy, environmental resources are considered to be a decisive factor for economic growth, improving the value chain, and bringing long-term stability and prosperity. Sustainability in environmental resources and climate change responses are considered the focus of a green economy. The concept of a “green economy” does not replace the concept of “sustainable development”, but it is increasingly recognized as a suitable model for the basis of sustainable development. In other words, a green economy is an economic strategy to achieve sustainable development targets.

2. Guidelines and policies of the Party and the State on the development of a green economy associated with sustainable development and climate change adaptation in Vietnam

The policy of sustainable development and green growth has been a topic of discussion by the Party and the State for many years.

The 12th Congress of the CPV reaffirmed the “rapid and sustainable development” policy and green economy development, “ensuring rapid and sustainable development on the basis of macroeconomic stability and continuous improvement of productivity, quality, efficiency and competitiveness, developing harmoniously between breadth and depth, paying attention to the development of depth; developing a knowledge economy and a green economy. Economic development must be closely linked with cultural and social development, environmental protection, and proactively coping with climate change, ensuring national defense, security and maintaining peace and stability to build the country”(2).

In 2004, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 153/2004/QD-TTg dated August 17, 2004 on the strategic direction of sustainable development in Vietnam (Agenda 21 of Vietnam). This is a framework strategy and includes major orientations as a legal basis for the ministries, sectors, localities, organizations and individuals relevant to implementation, while demonstrating Vietnam’s commitment to the world. Strategic orientation of sustainable development in Vietnam specifies that sustainable development is an urgent need and an inevitable trend in the development process of human society. Therefore, it was agreed upon globally that countries would build an Agenda for development in each historical stage. In fact, many countries have developed and implemented Agenda 21 on sustainable development.

Strategic orientation for sustainable development in Vietnam addresses the challenges that Vietnam is facing and sets out guidelines, policies, legal instruments and priority areas of activities to be implemented for sustainable development in the 21st century. It is clearly stated that the most important activities in the economic field are the implementation of “clean industrialization” and the construction of “green industry”, namely(3):

 - Change the production model and technology and consumption model towards being cleaner and having a more environmentally friendly orientation based on the economic usage of non-renewable resources, minimizing toxic and difficult-to-decompose wastes, maintaining the lifestyle of individuals and societies in harmony, and being close to nature.

- Maintain fast and stable economic growth on the basis of constantly improving the efficiency, scientific and technological content, economic use of natural resources, and environmental improvement.

- Carry out sustainable agriculture and rural development. While increasingly manufacturing goods in order to meet market requirements, hygiene and food safety must be ensured, assuring conservation and development of resources such as soil, water, air, forests, and biodiversity.

- Carry out sustainable regional development and build local communities with sustainable development.

- Implement the process of “clean industrialization”, which means that right from the beginning, industrial development must be planned with specific industry structures, technology, and equipment to ensure environmentally friendly principles; developments must also actively prevent and treat industrial pollution and build up a “green industry”. The environmental standards should be included in the list of the most essential criteria for selecting industries that need to encourage investment, production technology and products, as well as planning industrial parks, export processing zones and building for preventing, treating and controlling pollution.

On April 12, 2012, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 432/QD-TTg, approving the Vietnam Sustainable Development Strategy for the period of 2011-2020, specifying that: “Sustainable development is a throughout requirement in the process of national development; closely, reasonably and harmoniously combining economic development with social development and protection of natural resources and the environment, ensuring national defense, security and social order and safety”(4); and “Science and technology are the foundation and driving force for the country’s sustainable development. Modern, clean and environment-friendly technologies should be given priority for widespread use in manufacturing industries”.

The main objective of the Strategy is “...transforming the growth model into a harmonious development between breadth and depth; step by step carry out green growth, develop a low carbon economy, economically and efficiently using all resources... It also aims for minimizing the negative impacts of economic activities on the environment; rationally and effectively using natural resources, especially non-renewable resources; preventing, controlling and overcoming environmental pollution, degradation, improving environmental quality, protecting and developing forests, and preserving biodiversity; limiting the harmful effects of natural disasters, proactively adapting effectively to climate change, especially sea level rise”(5).

The Vietnamese sustainable development strategy for the period of 2011-2020 also specifies the tasks, including “building up and implementing a green growth strategy, ensuring the development of a low carbon-oriented economy, economically and efficiently using energy; and developing clean and renewable energy to ensure national energy security; gradually marketizing energy prices, gradually increasing the proportion of clean and renewable energy in the total energy consumption in Vietnam; developing an environmental economic accounting system and supplementing environmental and social aspects to the System of National Accounts (SNA)”.

In addition to performing the task of “sustainable development of regions and localities, building sustainable development programs of the regions and localities”, the Prime Minister issued a “set of monitoring and evaluation indicators for local sustainable development for the period of 2013-2020” (Decision No.2157/QD-TTg November 11, 2013).

In order to implement the policy on sustainable development and green economic development, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 1393/QD-TTg dated September 25, 2012 to approve the “National Strategy for Green Growth for the period of 2011-2020 and vision towards 2050”.

This is the first comprehensive strategy in the field of green economic development in Vietnam, suitable to domestic conditions and keeping with the general global trend. The national strategy of green growth states: “Green growth is an important content of sustainable development, ensuring fast, efficient, sustainable economic development and making an important contribution to the implementation of the National Strategy on climate change... Green growth is based on increasing investment in the conservation, development and efficient use of financial sources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving environmental quality, thereby stimulating economic growth”(6).

As a result, the green economy development policy is an important measure for implementing the sustainable development policy that the Party set out in hopes of making the country more sustainably developed on the basis of a close, proper and harmonious combination between economic development and ensuring social progress and justice and environmental protection(7).

On August 26, 2016, the Government issued Resolution No. 73/NQ-CP, approving the investment policy of 21 Target Programs for the 2016-2020 period, including the Target Program, which will respond to climate change and green growth. The objective of the Program is to simultaneously implement measures to adapt to the impacts of climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring the safety of human life and assets. Other objectives include strengthening the capacity of people and natural systems to adapt to climate change, green growth, movement towards a low-carbon economy, and the enrichment of natural resources as the key trend in sustainable economic development. The Program will also work to restructure and perfect economic institutions in order to green existing sectors and encourage the development of economic sectors that efficiently use energy and highly-valued resources. Implementing the National Strategy on climate change, the National Strategy on green growth, and actively implementing Vietnam’s commitment to the international community on protecting the Earth’s climate are also important objectives. The Program set specific targets with the plan to plant and rehabilitate 10,000 hectares (ha) of coastal mangrove forests and watershed forests in order to adapt to climate change by absorbing 2 million tons of CO2 annually and creating a stable livelihood for the people. By 2020, the goal is to reduce the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions to from 8% to 10% compared to the 2010 level, reduce energy consumption per GDP from 1% to 1.5% per year, build a center for the research, training, application and transfer of green construction technology in Vietnam on a land area of 50 ha, and build up action plans on green growth at the sectoral, regional and local levels(8).

On October 28, 2016, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 2053/QD-TTg on the Plan to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change. The plan identifies five mission groups: mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to climate change, preparing resources, establishing Measurement, Reporting, Verification system (MRV), and formulating and perfecting policies and institutions. For two task groups, the plan is to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. 38 out of 68 missions focus on clean energy usage, green growth, restructuring of economic sectors, preventing and mitigating natural disasters, and stabilizing people’s lives(9).

It can be affirmed that the Party and State of Vietnam have clearly seen the role of sustainable development and green development and have made efforts to propose many programs and plans for implementation.

The Vietnamese State’s policy on green economy development is clearly defined in the issued documents and is being implemented at all levels. By the National Strategy and Action Plan on sustainable development and green growth, a green economy, and response to climate change, Vietnam has shown its determination and action in developing a green economy associated with sustainable development within the country.

To implement the green economy development policy in Vietnam in the context of global climate changes, some key solutions need to be focused. They have been written out below.

Firstly, in terms of awareness, it is necessary to focus on communication and education to shift the public’s awareness of the “brown economy” (the economy that only focuses on economic growth without paying enough attention to environmental protection) to that of a “green economy”, to create a high consensus in society, from leaders to people and businesses. In the professional education system, the plan is to renovate the curriculum and lectures to be based on a “green economy” approach.

Secondly, the development of mechanisms and policies should create favorable conditions for renewing the growth model, focusing on industrial restructuring, prioritizing the development of high-tech industries and low carbon emissions, developing environmentally friendly technology, using energy and resources economically and without polluting the environment, and restoring resources and ecosystems. The development should also accelerate restructuring and equitization of state-owned enterprises in the fields of natural resources, energy and heavy industry. It should also focus on promoting the roles of small and medium enterprises and the community in implementing green economic development policies. The proactive participation of the community will create a solid foundation for the realization of a green economy, so it is necessary to pay attention to raising public awareness of green economic development.

Thirdly, there should be an increased investment in science and technology development, while also promoting research and cooperation in green economic development fields, like using renewable energy, producing technology for saving resources and consuming less energy. Investment should be reoriented with an aim to invest about 2% of the total annual budget expenditure in ecosystem restoration and environmental protection.

Fourthly, land use should be renovated to plan for urban development, traffic development, industrial parks, and processing zones. Social welfare will work in the direction of allocating sufficient land for the development of green spaces that contain trees, lakes, and environmental technical infrastructure according to international standards.

Fifthly, in order to maintain and develop natural ecosystems, the plan will be to reform the natural resource tax system and review environmental taxes towards the adjustment of green economy development through economic instruments and financial/tax mechanisms to encourage the economically effective use of resources, especially rare and precious resources.

Sixthly, the plan will be to renew macroeconomic indicators, revise and perfect green GDP targets, and improve the SNA system to reflect all environmental calculation criteria in the national account balance.

Seventhly, there should be a review of mechanisms and policies related to ecosystem services and investment for development. Forest development should be associated with poverty reduction. Economic instruments related to forest environment service payments should be taken advantage of in order to supplement and perfect a tool that can be deployed throughout the country, including wetland, marine, and coral ecosystems.

Eighthly, international cooperation in green economy development in Vietnam needs to be strengthened. International support resources should be mobilized, especially the global GDP capital investment of 2% for green economy development as well as other financial mechanisms for forest development. Vietnam needs to promote coordination with international organizations, countries, and international financial institutions in order to overcome the negative impacts of the market relevant to the environment, strictly enforcing international laws and standards. For the Mekong Delta, a region that is very vulnerable to climate change, standards need to be planned and invested in appropriately and effectively.

Thus, in the context of global climate change, green economy development is the key to success, a breakthrough solution for Vietnam’s sustainable development. A green economy will contribute to the successful implementation of the targets, which are rapid and sustainable growth, ensured progress and social justice, a constantly improving quality of life, and attached importance to environmental protection.



(1) Extracts from the Vietnam Association of Nature and Environment Protection: Green economy for sustainable development in the context of climate change, National Political -Truth Publishing House, Hanoi, 2018, p.32.

(2) CPV: Document of the 12th National Party Congress, Office of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, 2016, p.270.

(3), (7) See the Prime Minister’s Decision No. 153/2004/QD-TTg dated August 17, 2004, promulgating strategic orientations for sustainable development in Vietnam (Agenda 21 of Vietnam).

(4) See Article 1 (I, 1) of the Prime Minister’s Decision No. 432/QD-TTg of April 12, 2012 approving Vietnam’s Sustainable Development Strategy for the period 2011-2020.

(5) See Article 1 (I, 2,4) of the Prime Minister’s Decision No. 432/QD-TTg of April 12, 2012 approving Vietnam’s Sustainable Development Strategy for the period 2011-2020.

(6) See Decision No. 1393/QD-TTg dated September 25, 2012 of the Prime Minister on approving “National Strategy on Green Growth for the period of 2011-2020 and vision to 2050”.

(8) See XIV. Target program for climate change response and green growth (Appendix attached to the Government’s Resolution No. 73/NQ-CP of August 26, 2016).

(9) See Appendix: The tasks of implementing Paris climate agreement (Issued together with the Prime Minister’s Decision No. 2053 of October 28, 2016).


1. Prof., Dr. Ngo Thang Loi - Dr. Vu Thanh Huong (Co-Editor), Sustainable Development in Vietnam in a new context of globalization, international integration and climate change, National Political - Truth Publishing House, Hanoi, 2015.

2. Tran Ngoc Ngoan (Editor), Ha Huy Ngoc, Nguyen Song Tung, Pham Thi Tram and Ha Huy Thanh: Policies to promote green growth: International experiences and practice in Vietnam, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2016.

3. Vietnam Association of Nature and Environment Protection: Green economy for sustainable development in the context of climate changes - National Political - Truth Publishing House, Hanoi, 2018.

Dr. Tran Thi Huong

Academy of Journalism and Communication


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