Viet Nam Connects with the World Wide Web of Life

Jun 5, 2001

Ha Noi - Viet Nam's imperial city of Hue has been selected as one of the four main places around the world to be the focus of World Environment Day activities this year, together with Torino in Italy, Havana in Cuba, and Nairobi in Kenya.

This year's World Environment Day's theme, Connect with the World Wide Web of Life, reflects the need to make the connection, in whatever way we can, between ourselves and all life on Earth. As Edouard A. Wattez, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Viet Nam, noted in his statement, "the more connections there are, the stronger the Web of Life. The simple fact is that all connections in this Web of Life are supported by the environment. If we do not protect our environment, the connections begin to break and disintegrate. If too many connections are broken, the entire web is lost and gone."

Viet Nam has made significant progress in protecting the environment, such as making the forest sector more sustainable with the Five Million Hectares Reforestation Programme - nearly one sixth of Vietnam's area - and several environmental funds have been established to help polluting industries fund cleaner production methods.

From 1943 to 1997, forest cover fell from 43 per cent to 28 per cent of the country's area, as a result of expanding agriculture, commercial logging, and firewood collection. This in turn has caused increased soil erosion, flooding and species loss.

Since 1975, the population of Viet Nam has increased by nearly 30 million people. This growth has brought increased population pressure on the environment. Over 700 species are listed as threatened in the Red Data Book of Viet Nam. About ninety per cent of industries have no wastewater treatment facilities. Air pollution levels in the major cities regularly exceed two to five times Viet Nam's national standards.

"In a country like Viet Nam, striving to achieve ambitious objectives in modernisation, industrialisation and poverty alleviation, protection of the environment to strengthen this web of life is critical," said Mr Wattez. "The United Nations is committed to helping Viet Nam to implement the National Environmental Action Plan 2001-2005."

Under the "Connect with the World Wide Web of Life" initiative, a wealth of events have been being organized in Hue city and various localities throughout the country, including meetings; student environmental competitions; signing ceremonies for new environmental protection projects; television specials; cultural exchanges; seminars on economical use of energy and on environmental pollution; treatment of hospital waste and rubbish; a volunteer youth forum; a film festival; painting and photograph exhibit; bicycle parade and kite-flying performance; and Green Sundays to mobilize youths, students, and people to make the cities cleaner places.

World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Another resolution adopted by the General Assembly the same day, led to the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme.
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