UNDP Chief hails Viet Nam’s progress on the millennium goals; says environmental issues could be addressed through cleaner energy use

Jun 15, 2010

Ha Noi  – On the second day of her official visit to Viet Nam, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark visited Bat Trang village, an ancient center for ceramics, to encourage the use of cleaner energy in their kilns.  UNDP supports a project which provides short term loans to business owners to switch from coal fired kilns to cleaner gas, significantly reducing CO2 emission and saving energy

"I think there are big opportunities for Vietnam with the climate finance coming available for both adaptation and also for mitigation, by which I mean cleaner energy technologies.  And that is what we have come to see here today. It's very exciting and it needs to be happening on a very large scale right across Vietnam," said Helen Clark.  "Having clean technology is good for the community’s health and in this case it is also cheaper.”

Since the late 1990s the ceramics production in Bat Trang has grown rapidly – but at the expense of the environment. More than one thousand coal burning kilns are currently in use in Bat Trang commune. These kilns cause serious air pollution and as a result more than 70 per cent of the village residents have been diagnosed with respiratory diseases.

However, by switching to kilns which use liquefied petroleum gas, rather than coal, it is possible to significantly reduce air pollution and save energy equal to about 25, 000 tons of equivalent oil. This UNDP-supported project helps the commune authorities, the ceramic association, and individual households make the switch through short-term loans to purchase the new, cleaner kilns.

"Vietnam has been very successful on the Millennium Development Goals," said Helen Clark.  "It is going to meet the poverty goal, the education goal, the child and maternal health goal, it will probably achieve the gender equality goal and the sanitation goal.  The two things to pay attention to are HIV/AIDS, which is low by comparison to many countries but will need constant attention so that it doesn't grow as an epidemic, and environmental issues."

As a direct result of the project, 131 kilns have so far been installed to replace both coal burning and inefficient liquid gas petroleum kilns. This has helped reduce the overall energy consumption in Bat Trang by 10-15 per cent and the more modern kilns have also improved the quality of the ceramics produced. Since 2007, the total amount of energy saved equals 25,000 tons of oil and about 134,000 tons of C02 emissions have been avoided.

The five-year project is funded by the Global Environment Facility/UNDP (US$ 5.5 million) and the Government of Viet Nam (US$ 23.5 million).

The Ba Trang project is part of a wider UNDP supported initiative to green Vietnamese SMEs. So far, more than 400 businesses in the country have been given access to energy-efficient technology, helping them to reduce their energy consumption. At the same time, profits of the participating businesses have increased – both through the direct energy savings and through an improvement in product quality, such as in the bricks and ceramics sector which now use more modern kilns.

While in Bat Trang, Helen Clark visited a small-scale ceramic workshop owned by Nguyen Van Hop to discuss the switch from a coal kiln to the cleaner gas kiln and how it has affected his business and his family’s health.

Hop said that as a result of the switch, there is now a lot less smoke in the workshop and Hop feels his health, and that of his family, has improved. In addition, the new kiln has also helped the family produce better products and he has been able to hire additional employees.

“When we used the coal kiln, I felt so scared each time I started the kiln, dust was everywhere …Since we changed to gas kiln, our house is cleaner and we breathe in fresh air,” Hop said. “The gas kiln requires higher technique and skill but it gives more stable and quality products. I am now able to produce big vases.”

Contact information

Christina LoNigro  Tel: +1 212.906.5301;

Nguyen Viet Lan  Tel: (84-4) 38224383;