Viet Nam urged to play it safe in chemical use: report

Feb 24, 2003

Ha Noi - Viet Nam requires an overall strategic plan to manage the increased use of chemicals and reduce their impacts on environment and public health as the country pursues its drive for modernization and industrialization, says a report released today on toxicological problems.

The report, entitled “Environmental Toxicological Problems Resulting from Chemical Uses in Viet Nam - Training need assessment”, was launched in the presence of Her Royal Highness Chulabhorn Mahidol, the Princess of Thailand and President of the Chulabhorn Research Institute, Bangkok.

The report, prepared by the Department of Science, Technology and Environment of Ha Noi and the Chulabhorn Research Institute of Thailand, notes that the Viet Nam’s fast growing chemical industry has caused environmental and health side effects that must be addressed and prevented in the future.

With support from the UN Development Programme (UNDP), experts have carried out a comprehensive study on environmental toxicology focusing on chemical use in enterprises and agricultural activities throughout Viet Nam to assess the environmental impacts of such chemical usage.

According to the study, the chemical industry is characterized by old technologies, low efficiency of materials use and inadequate management that can lead to losses or leakage of toxic chemicals to the environment. The report says the environmental quality of Viet Nam in recent years has been decreasing partly due to chemical pollution from industrial and agricultural activities.

“This report is a landmark document which will enable decision makers and planners in government, in academia and in the industrial sectors to chart the future course for sustainable development for the benefit both of Viet Nam and of our region”, says Princess Chulabhorn.

“By mapping out the status of chemical and pesticide usage in all stages, from production, usage, to management and distribution, the report is the first step to address this challenge of Viet Nam”, says Jordan Ryan, UNDP Resident Representative.

Ryan stresses the link between poverty and environment: “The poor suffer most from the degradation of their land, air, water and biological resources. An estimated 20% of the death and disease of the poor is associated with environmental factors – affecting women and children in particular. Therefore, the link poverty-environment will be critical to achieving sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals”

The report recommends Viet Nam formulate and implement an appropriate legal framework on chemical safety, carry out intensive training programmes for the different stakeholders involved, including in the government and private sector industry. The country also needs to raise the awareness of environmental toxicology among decision-makers, scientists and the public at large to ensure concerted action in this regard.

This report is part of a regional project, supported by UNDP, that has successfully helped the Government of Viet Nam develop training and analytical capacity in environmental toxicology. During the past three years, the project has provided training to 416 officials, experts and researchers. The project has also helped introduce local scientists and researchers to the Asian technical networks in this field.

Contact informationNguyen Viet Lan, Tel: (84 4) 942 1495 Ext.186