Amanda M. Rye

The People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City has issued a plan to green up the city and create more public space for locals until 2022, which aims to add at least 10 hectares of parks and two hectares of public green spaces, and plant or rehabilitate 6,000 trees this year.

The People’s Committee has instructed districts and Thu Duc city to make plans with specific targets to realise the scheme.

The city has also told them to quickly review and make a list of public lands that are zoned for green parks but leased out or used for other purposes, and report to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

HCM City has a 10-year plan (2021-30) for increasing public parks and the green coverage, under which it will add at least 150ha of public parks and 10ha of public green spaces by 2025.

By 2030 there will be one square metre of park per capita and 3-4 sq.m of overall green space per capita.

A recent report by the General Department of Environment said the city targets turning 10,300ha of land into green spaces, but has only managed 445ha so far.

The average rate of greenery per capita in the city is around 2sq.m, with parks only accounting for 0.55sq.m, while each urban dweller needs around 10sq.m of green space to ensure a healthy life, it said.

According to statistics from the Department of Transport, the inner city (comprising 16 districts and Thu Duc city) has 495.8ha of parks and greenery, accounting for nearly 99 percent of the city’s total.

National scientific-technological development and innovation strategy approved

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has signed a decision to issue a strategy for scientific-technological development and innovation until 2030.

Accordingly, science, technology and innovation will play important roles in developing key industries in Vietnam, with a focus on the processing and manufacturing industries, contributing to restructuring the national economy toward modernity by 2030.

Science, technology and innovation are hoped to significantly contribute to building and developing Vietnam’s cultural, social and human values, providing scientific grounds for developing national development guidelines and policies, and contribute to the human development index (HDI).

To achieve these goals, attention will be paid to boosting scientific-technological and innovative activities nationwide, and setting up innovative ecosystems in industrial, agricultural and service sectors in connection with domestic and global value chains and industry clusters, in which large enterprises and State management agencies are responsible for creating favourable conditions and policies.

A system of national innovative centres will be linked with hi-tech zones, residential areas, financial centres, venture capital funds, universities and research institutes.

Additionally, open innovation platforms and networks will be developed to attract domestic and foreign investment resources towards creating new technologies and products, and setting up new enterprises.

Another key mission in the strategy is to develop scientific human resources with a high level of innovation and creative capacity.

The Government will also put an emphasis on building highly qualified scientific human resources, including leading scientists that can match the level of their counterparts in developed nations.

Other policies and mechanisms should be introduced to provide financial support and facilitate immigration as well as working permit procedures for overseas Vietnamese or foreigners who wish to participate in domestic scientific activities.

A network to connect talented overseas Vietnamese scientists should be also formed.

Moc Chau hosts VN Trail Marathon in harvest season

Runners from around the world will run up to 70km on trails through the hills, ethnic minority villages, orchards and tea fields of Mộc Châu District, Sơn La Province today. 

Established in 2019, Việt Nam Trail Marathon (VTM) has grown to become one of the largest mountain runs in the nation.

The race usually takes place during blossom season, but this year the COVID-19 pandemic forced a date change, so now runners will see Mộc Châu in harvest season — another very special time of year in this region.

The route will take runners along stunning trails through orchards and remote ethnic villages before eventually finishing in the Đồi Chè Trái Tim (Heart-Shaped Tea Field).

On the starting line will be some of Việt Nam’s top trail runners, as well as some strong international competition, particularly from French and Japanese runners.

This race is part of the Việt Nam Trail Series by Topas, which also includes Sa Pa’s Việt Nam Mountain Marathon and Pù Luông’s Việt Nam Jungle Marathon.

The Mộc Châu event was the third race added to the series. Mộc Châu was chosen for its spectacular trails and unique landscapes as well as the hospitable welcome extended to organisers and runners by both the local authorities and people.

Hanoi needs to combine green growth with urban development

Bảy Mẫu Lake and Thống Nhất Park in Hai Bà Trưng District, Hà Nội. 

The capital Hanoi is focusing on urban development towards green and sustainable growth and building a smart and modern city.

According to the Hà Nội Construction Department, the city has paid attention to implementing environmental protection and improvement toward green and sustainable urban development.

The city has also invested in and completed the environment monitoring system in polluted areas and publicised monitoring results in the media to improve the capacity and efficiency of management, forecasting and control of environmental pollution.

Accordingly, the city has put 10 automatic air monitoring stations, one mobile monitoring vehicle, one wastewater and air monitoring station at the Nam Sơn Waste Treatment Complex, and six automatic water surface monitoring stations.

The station data is transmitted to management centres for monitoring and processing.

The work of undergrounding the electric and communication cables, planting trees, and embellishing the street pavement have been done synchronously. Thanks to that, the face of the city is getting greener, cleaner and more beautiful.

Besides, the development of public green outdoor spaces has been gradually meeting the needs of urban residents. From 2015-to 2020, the city has built 382 works of public spaces.

In recent years, the municipal authority has paid special attention to renovating and upgrading the flower gardens and parks system in the central urban area to create typical architectural and landscape spaces of the capital.

The current large parks such as Thủ Lệ and Bách Thảo parks in Ba Đình District, Thống Nhất and Tuổi Trẻ parks in Hai Bà Trưng District have an area of ​​10-50ha each along with natural lakes and flower gardens make the city’s landscape beautiful and improve the microclimate for the areas.

Along with the projected investment by the State budget, many public works such as parks, flower gardens, squares and lakes in new residential areas are invested in and built by the investors.

Five water supply projects have been completed, bringing the total capacity of the water supply of water plants in the city to about 1.5 million cu.m per day. This means 100 per cent of the city’s population can have access to clean water.

Currently, the rate of public green land area in inner cities reaches 7.87 sq.m per person, and the average rate of garbage collection in urban areas is over 97.6 per cent. The city’s waste is treated by landfilling and incineration.

National Music festival to launch latest works concludes in Dak Lak

A three-day music festival has been launched in the Central Highlands to attract songwriters from across the country.

Local chapters of the Musicians Associations have mobilised the latest works of the writers, who chose to use local and ethnic melodies, beats and rhythms as inspirational themes to convey their musical messages.

This is the first phase of putting together the new works that make it to the stage. 

The song’s theme includes musicians’ impressions of President Hồ Chí Minh, as his birthday fell on May 19, and ongoing activities in the country in protecting the islands and marine territories, the new rural lives in the country and their love for common homeland. 

The festival also presents new works in music theory studies, as well as those of music critics. They especially get peer reviews and criticism for new works, which use regional folkloric traits as well as vibrant colours and rhythmic beats of the Central Highlands and south-central coast, as well as some regions that produce generations of great singers and musicians that the whole country loved.

The festival also attempts to provide a larger picture of the preservation of folk music as well as bringing the music of the Central Highlands to describe the beautiful landscapes of the country. The second leg of this festival shall continue later this year. 

Pink Silk collection accentuates northern highland folk traditions

Northern highland women and their lifestyle is the premise of a new collection called Tơ Hồng (Pink Silk) by designer Thuỷ Nguyễn. 

The collection comprises 30 designs for women in cotton, silk and satin in vivid colours like blue, red and pink that the designer has created after visiting northern mountainous areas and interacting with the ethnic minority women who live there. 

She said she was inspired by both the remote areas and how the women lived their lives there.

Each design in the collection is linked to stories and dreams that the women living in remote mountainous areas nurture, she added. 

A Hà Nội native, she studied painting at a university in Ukraine in 2003 and went on to become a self-taught fashion designer. She opened her first store in HCM City in 2011. 

In 2016, she was invited to be a costume designer for Cô Ba Sài Gòn (The Tailor), an award-winning romantic comedy produced by movie star and producer Ngô Thanh Vân.

The film features Vietnamese women living in Sài Gòn (now HCM City) in the 1960s. Its leading character, actress Ninh Dương Lan Ngọc of HCM City, was named the Face of Asia at the 22nd Busan International Film Festival in South Korea in 2017. 

For Cô Ba Sài Gòn, Thủy created many áo dài (traditional Vietnamese dress) for the actors to wear. She said she loves working with Vietnamese satin, silk and velvet. 

Thuỷ is still involved in painting and the arts. She is a founder of The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, an institution in HCM City that encourages young artists in different fields.  

V4 countries share agricultural innovation

Experts from the Visegrad Group (V4) – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia –  shared experience in agricultural innovation at a workshop held in Hà Nội on May 20.

Őry Csaba, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Hungary in Việt Nam, said agriculture was an ever-changing, dynamic sector, the experts of which need to be ready to answer various emerging challenges, from the effects of climate change, through excessive use of inorganic fertilisers, to the high demand of agricultural products.

At the event, participants had the chance to hear the introduction of V4 institutions leading agricultural research and innovation in their respective countries, as well as the opportunity to get familiar with several companies, who have innovative solutions to offer, such as those in smart agriculture, soil regeneration, nutrition, non-chemical farming, premixes and feed supplements.

According to participants, innovation focuses on alternative protein, sustainable agriculture, targeted nutrition, sustainable aquaculture, digital traceability, and circular food systems.

They shared experience in bio-economy, a tool for reinsurance of the sustainable use of natural resources, respectively sustainable agriculture, forestry and aquaculture, food and feed production, international research collaboration, and smart agriculture.

Deputy director of the Export Support Department under the National Support Centre for Agriculture of Poland, Adrian Gawlowski, said the centre was a Polish governmental agency supervised by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Its goal is to support Polish producers and exporters of food and build a positive image and brand awareness of Polish food abroad. It also offers business matching services and innovative solutions for agriculture and investment opportunities.

A representative of CleverFarm from the Czech Republic said its vision was to make farming automated, sustainable and economically efficient. He shared the use of a data integration platforms and the transformation of precision farming. 

Reforestation planned to replace forestlands cleared in construction of North-South Expressway

The Government has recently submitted to the National Assembly Standing Committee a report on converting forests, forest land and wet-rice land for the North-South Expressway in 2021-25.

Accordingly, the Government proposed changing the land use purpose of 1,054 hectares of forest to ensure no major impact on the environment and to reach the project schedule.

The total forest land includes 111.84 hectares of protective forest, 4.45 hectares of special forest, 802.91 hectares of forest for wood production, and 135.43 hectares of other forests.

Among these forest lands, Quảng Bình Province in the central region has the largest converted forest area with 437.25 hectares, including 11.84 hectares of natural forest and 425.41 hectares of planted forest.

According to the review by the Department of Construction and Traffic Work Quality Management (Ministry of Transport), seven provinces have forest land that needs to be converted to serve the North-South Expressway in 2021-2025, including Hà Tĩnh, Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, Quảng Ngãi, Bình Định, Phú Yên and Khánh Hoà.

Currently, the provinces of Hà Tĩnh, Quảng Bình and Khánh Hoà have developed alternative afforestation plans.

The localities have planned that one hectare of planted forest converted for the highway will be replaced by one hectare as a replacement, while one hectare of the natural forest will be replaced by three hectares of planted forests.

The People’s Committees of the provinces and cities will decide the price for afforestation, the amount of assistant money, and the time for replanting forests by investors.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has been focusing on examining and reviewing the status of forests that need to be converted to to ensure consistent data and locations for publication.

Meanwhile, the Department of Construction and Traffic Work Quality Management said that as of May this year, the North-South Expressway project in 2021-2025 met the schedule set by the Government.

Twelve localities where the expressway passes through had written agreements on the direction of the route, and the Ministry has approved nine out of ten component projects of national defence.

Poor infrastructure stymieing growth of north-west HCM City

HCM City’s north-west comprising Hóc Môn and Củ Chi districts is not achieving its full economic potential due to poor infrastructure and land planning, experts have said.

In April, at a conference held to solicit investment in the two districts, businesses signed 31 memorandums of understanding for future investments of US$16.2 billion. Ten projects worth over $430 million were also licensed at the time.

President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc told the conference that the two districts had great growth potential, and referred to them as “sleeping dragons.”

But they suffer from underdeveloped traffic infrastructure compared to other districts.

National Highway No. 22 (connecting the city centre with its north-western part) is often overloaded while roads connecting adjacent provinces are in poor condition and congested.

Nguyễn Văn Phong, a retired official of Hóc Môn District’s Xuân Thới Thượng Commune, told Người Lao Động newspaper that roads leading to Long An’s urban areas and industrial parks had only been widened slightly in the past few years despite traffic volumes increasing enormously.

Trần Văn Khuyên, the Hóc Môn Party Committee secretary, said though the district had abundant lands, inefficient planning was hindering business activities.

He gave the Nhị Bình flower field as an example. It is very popular among youths, and the owner wants to expand it but is unable to do so since the surrounding lands are earmarked for city development plans that have been in limbo for a long time.

Many other projects have also been delayed for many years, and they are simply taking up land.

For example, the 6,000ha North-western HCM City Urban Area located between the two districts and touted as one of HCM City’s satellite cities with many commercial, educational and medical facilities was announced around 20 years ago.

But it has been a non-starter despite the city making numerous efforts to attract investors.

Thousands of households living in the project area have been hesitant about spending money to fix their deteriorating houses.

Students enjoy expressing their road safety knowledge through art 

As part of Safety Delivered programme, supported by The UPS Foundation, AIP Foundation has hosted a day of fun learning about road safety for young students and announced the winners of the helmet safety-drawing contest in the northern province of Thái Nguyên.

In cooperation with the Provincial Traffic Safety Committee and the Department of Education and Training of Thái Nguyên Province, AIP Foundation is gathering at Tràng Xá School to bring together students, teachers and local government representatives.

During Phase III of the Safety Delivered program (2021-22), 62 per cent of students who participate in the programme are from underrepresented communities. These children often lack access to safe and sustainable commutes. The helmets and road safety education received through the programme make a life-saving difference for vulnerable children on their way to and from school.

In April, students from five project schools projects across Võ Nhai District in Thái Nguyên Province entered the drawing contest. Each class was encouraged to draw a picture in their classroom following the topic: “Correct helmet wear – Safety Delivered”. All students were given full free creative reign to draw what safe helmets represent to them.

Some students drew about our Protec helmets, expressing the importance of how a quality helmet can have a life-saving impact. It was particularly endearing to see the drawings where students expressed through pictures how important it is for their parents to be aware of road safety skills and using quality helmets.

In this extracurricular activity as part of the Safety Delivered programme, students are learning the importance of wearing a helmet to protect themselves. It also gives the students an opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned during the programme and express their own ideas on helmet safety by creating their own artwork.

With support from the 2022 FIA Global Action Grant, the day will be filled with interactive activities for all students including a photo exhibition to raise road safety and helmet safety awareness for all attendees, a photo booth to promote the worldwide #StreetsForLife campaign, and a handover of the Global Action Plan as part of the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-30.

The Global Plan will be handed over to the local government in Thái Nguyên Province to amplify all campaigning efforts and to secure future commitment for change. Việt Nam’s National Road Safety Strategy supports meeting the goals of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development as part of the Global Plan, ensuring maximum traffic safety for all school students across the country.

Hanoi hosts Francophone running tournament

A Francophone running tournament entitle “Elle Peut!”  (She can!)  took place at Hoan Kiem Lake in downtown Hanoi on May 21, attracting the participation of over 1,200 runners.

The event was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Hanoi People’s Committee, the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) and the Francophone University Agency (AUF).

The race conveyed the message about the ability of women, especially those with disabilities, who are often considered vulnerable in society, to do useful things.

It is also the commitment of each individual in the Francophone community to contribute to the sustainable development of French-speaking countries and society.

According to Laurent Sermet, regional director of AUF in Asia-Pacific, the event is a valuable opportunity to promote the values of friendship, sharing,  sports spirit in the French-speaking community, and  the international community in general.

Vietnam, Cuba promote cooperation in justice

A delegation of Vietnam’s Supreme People’s Court led by Deputy Chief Justice Nguyen Van Du paid an official visit to Cuba from May 18-21 to promote cooperation between the two court sectors and attend the 10th International Meeting on Justice and Law.

At a working session with the Chief Justice of Supreme People’s Court of Cuba, Rubén Remigio Ferro, the Vietnamese deputy chief justice informed the host on the main reforms in the Vietnamese court system in the recent past, including enhancing the publicity of sentences, improving judicial service quality for the public and modernising material conditions.   

He stressed that in its judicial reform strategy, the Vietnamese State aims to enhance the capacity of judges, build electronic courts and intensify international experience exchange.

The Cuban chief justice also shared the orientation for the modernisation of the Cuban court system, and noted the similar points in the process of completing the judicial system in the two countries.

He paid attention to Vietnam’s experience in judicial reconciliation and suggested holding knowledge exchanges or thematic workshops on the issue.
On the occasion, the Vietnamese delegation handed over some laptops as a gift from the Vietnam Supreme People’s Court to the Cuban counterpart.      

Spain committed to accompanying Vietnam in renewable energy growth: ambassador

The Spanish government and enterprises will accompany Vietnam in accelerating energy transition and expanding bilateral cooperation in other areas, according to Ambassador of Spain to Vietnam Pilar Méndez Jiménez.

She highly appreciated Vietnam’s strong commitments made at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) last year and its efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, saying Vietnam must forge major reforms to realise its sustainable development ambitions.

Referring to the progress of bilateral relations, she said that in the past Spain had boosted development cooperation with Vietnam, with emphasis placed on sustainable development and gender equality.

The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) has provided 19 million EUR in financial assistance for projects supporting women in Vietnam, particularly victims of gender-based violence, she added.

With Vietnam now becoming a middle-income country,  the bilateral cooperation has shifted its focus to economic fields. 

Regarding activities marking the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties, the ambassador said they will be mainly organised online given the COVID-19 pandemic.

The embassy has coordinated with Casa Asia (Asia House) and agencies at the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the celebrations, with activities including the launch of a special website.

The website will feature an exhibition displaying works by female comic authors from Vietnam and Spain; provide information to improve mutual understanding between the two peoples; and introduce outstanding scientific research studies.

A number of photos capturing milestones in the bilateral relations are being displayed outside the embassy’s headquarters in Hanoi, the diplomat said.

For economic and trade ties, she noted that the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which came into force in 2021, has established a legal framework and mechanism facilitating cooperation between the two countries.

Méndez Jiménez expressed her belief that there remains substantial potential in this regard as the deal took effect amid the pandemic.

The agreement will accelerate the reduction of tariffs and non-tariff barriers, thus helping Vietnam and Spain tap their potential for bilateral cooperation, she continued. 

Hanoi Cuisine Festival opens

The Hà Nội Cuisine and Handicraft Villages Tourism Festival has opened to visitors in Lê Quang Đạo Street in Nam Từ Liêm District (opposite the F1 track) to entertain SEA Games visitors.

The event gathers hundreds of handicraft villages, artisans and food suppliers in the city and throughout the country.

The festival introduces the top dishes of the city and some neighbouring localities, typical handicraft villages, which offer tourism services, and demonstrations of traditional handicrafts.

Bamboo booths host cuisine spaces offering popular dishes such as rice pancakes, shrimp cakes, coffee, young rice cake, and tea scented with lotus from the West Lake.

Handicraft shops introduce notable villages like Vạn Phúc Silk Village, Bát Tràng Ceramic Village and Sơn Đồng Wood Craft Village, where visitors can listen to guides explaining the village production processes.

“This festival aims to advertise the images and destinations of Hà Nội’s tourism and introduce local cuisine to both domestic and foreign visitors,” said Nguyễn Thị Mai Anh, deputy director of Hà Nội Investment, Trade and Tourism Centre, at the opening ceremony on Friday night.

The event highlights the importance of cuisine and handicraft villages as tourism products to contribute to the local economy and preserve intangible heritage, she said.

Hà Nội has been considered a hub of delicious dishes, which represent the creativity and talent of local residents.

She said that the city had been voted as a city with alluring cuisine by various international travel magazines.

Hà Nội hosts more than 1,350 handicraft villages, many of which are popular destinations for tourists.

The festival will last until May 23, and is part of a series of activities to advertise the capital as a safe, friendly and attractive destination. 

Source: VNA/SGT/VNS/VOV/Dtinews/SGGP/VGP/Hanoitimes

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