Urban migration is occurring at a rapid pace in Vietnam, threatening the sustainability of big cities, experts warned at a conference held in Hanoi Tuesday.
“About 1-1.2 million people migrating to cities every year,” Do Viet Chien, deputy secretary of the Association of Cities of Vietnam, said at the conference titled “How to think and develop a sustainable city” held by French Development Agency (AFD).
Rapid urbanization has created multiple difficulties, including traffic gridlock, inundation, pollution and lack of funds for urban investment.
Statistics released at the conference showed Vietnam had an even higher average urbanization rate of 3.4 percent in the past 30 years, the fastest in Southeast Asia.
Some 36 percent of Vietnamese live in urban areas, with the rate expected to increase to 40 percent in 2020 and 60 percent in 2050.
Chien said Vietnam has no criteria for “green” cities.
“Following recent environment disasters, the issue of environment protection needs to be prioritized in urban development,” he said.
Rémi Genevey, AFD Vietnam director, hailed Vietnam for its commitment to maintaining greenhouse gas emissions at 8 percent of accepted target between 2021 and 2030.
Antoine Mougenot, director of multidisciplinary consultancy AREP Vietnam, said Vietnamese cities should plant more trees and control air pollution in big cities.
Both Genevey and Emmanuel Cerice of Institut des Métiers de la Ville (IMV) called for improving public transport.
“Currently only 10 percent of people in Hanoi use buses. There should be more public means of transport to reduce private vehicles,” Cerice said.
Tran Thi Lan Anh, deputy director of the Ministry of Construction’s Department of Urban Development, said Vietnamese cities are facing challenges like climate change and sea-level rise.
“Vietnam has up to 400 urban areas that could be affected by sea-level rise and 140 others face flash flood threats. Thus, coping with climate change should be prioritized rather than green development or energy conservation.”