Challenges and Opportunities in Green Urban and Industrial Park Development

3:40:22 PM | 6/10/2024

The National Strategy on Green Growth, for the 2011-2020 period, with a vision to 2050, emphasizes the necessity for the construction and development of green buildings, green urban zones and ecological urban areas. This is in alignment with Vietnam’s aspirations for swift and sustainable urban development. As urbanization progresses on the backbone of industrialization, the establishment of functional areas and industrial parks assumes an important role in Vietnam’s socioeconomic advancement through to 2030.

According to data from the Department for Economic Zones Management under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, as of February 2024, Vietnam had 418 established industrial parks (IPs) with a total land area of 129,900 ha, of which the rentable industrial land area is about 89,200 ha. Among them, 298 IPs are operational and 120 IPs are under construction. The total area of leased industrial land in IPs reached about 51,300 ha, or an occupancy rate of 57.5%.

The National Strategy on Green Growth (2011-2020, vision to 2050) emphasizes the need for developing green buildings and ecological urban areas

Obstacles in applying specific land targets

The Vietnamese government launched the National Strategy on Green Growth and provinces and cities accordingly had their own solutions. This is an important basis in fostering research and application of green urban planning criteria in Vietnam.

Dr. Nguyen Xuan Hinh, former Dean of the Planning Department, Hanoi University of Architecture, said that in urban development and construction planning, all perspectives focus on green space. This aspect is not simply about arranging green park and water surface spaces but also requiring more than a systematic arrangement of public spaces, forming environmentally friendly works, and utilizing characteristics of natural conditions in creating urban landscapes and industrial parks, and above all, aiming to establish a foundation for green industrial development and green lifestyle.

In addition, it is about establishing green infrastructure, aiming to effectively use investment sources, identifying key investments in urban infrastructure and industrial parks to minimize natural changes, adapting to climate change, improving the operating capacity of urban areas and industrial parks, increasing labor productivity and fostering community cohesion. At the same time, conditions for green economic development must be ensured.

However, in fact, it is still difficult to apply the above perspectives and aspects in urban area and industrial park planning in Vietnam, notably applying specific land criteria to clearly classify factors about green space and green infrastructure and establishing production chains, he said.

These headwinds are challenging pro-green planning. Given Vietnam’s specific planning characteristics in terms of decentralization and diversity in project planning levels, it is urgent to construct and determine indicators and criteria. Besides, the green approach to urban area and industrial park planning also requires sectoral coordination, especially in boosting economic development, utilizing advantages as well as perfecting link chains. The approach to green urban development trends requires synchronous implementation of legal documents, instructions for execution and new changes in application methods.

Required consent on relevant laws

According to Dr. Hinh, to address these complications, it is essential to reach agreement on regulations on green urban development to reduce conflicts and contradictions in relevant laws (like Construction Law and Urban Planning Law), decrees and circulars on execution instructions. To solve these impediments, there is a need for specifying two directions: quantifying and qualifying green urban requirements in application and implementation. This reality is still challenging, for example in determining green urban targets. Quantification is manifested by the promulgation of standards and norms for implementation. Qualification is specified in criteria, with evaluation, comparison and reference with international and actual practices taken into consideration.

Regarding the core content of green urban and industrial park planning, land-use planning must be clarified with criteria and regulations in spatial distribution, urban structure and the role of each specific function, said Dr. Hinh. The green approach may have certain impacts on the land system and associated standards. In addition to decentralization and distribution in the urban system, there needs to be instructions specific to regions, terrain, natural conditions, social organizations, and economic activities to ensure the sustainability and reconstruction of a perfect environment for economic, social and environmental entities.

Key factors regarding the form of green urban space such as greeneries and water surfaces need to have clear definitions of functions, roles as well as standards and criteria for land and space ownership.

The transportation network is the lifeblood of urban development. It not only plays an active role in promoting trade and regional connectivity but also exerts an influence on the urban environment. Specific proposals on appropriate criteria and targets should be proposed for green urban application.

Methodologically, planning is largely about arranging landscape and architectural spaces with related techniques, experiences and theories. Common planning trends in developed countries show a shift towards the definition of city development strategies (CDS), featured by the integration of many professional and specialized areas, the unification and mutual support in line with defined goals.

Specially, it is necessary to improve the capacity of planning authorities, put forth recommendations for changes in subjects, tasks and methods of green planning. The performance assessment of relevant professional planning units needs to be defined and added to current regulations.

Quynh Chi (Vietnam Business Forum)