Nov 24, 2021 / 21:42

Fostering collaboration for developing Vietnam’s smart and sustainable cities

Building smart and sustainable cities is at the forefront of societal development globally.

Like other cities worldwide, Vietnam’s major cities also are challenged to become more sustainable on the eve of significant population growth. Fostering collaboration among stakeholders in the development of smart sustainable cities should be a focus to materialize the country’s goals, local insiders said.

Vietnam is on track to build its smart and sustainable cities. Photos: RMIT

Speaking at the online Smart and Sustainable Cities Forum on November 24, Nguyen Hoa Cuong, Vice President of the Central Institute of Economic Management under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, stressed: “It’s important for policymakers to engage urban developers, digital solutions providers, innovators, researchers, and all relevant stakeholders early on in the process and consult them along the way as we build and improve our cities.”

He added a key policy challenge the country is trying to address is how to enable more efficient use of infrastructure, while being environmentally sustainable and increasing cities’ innovation capacity.

Cuong underlined the field requires efforts of many domestic and international organizations, businesses from countries which have been developing sustainable smart cities.

Being of the same mind, Marc Forni, Lead Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Specialisty, World Bank said: “Authorities of provinces and cities need to be involved in decisions and policies of the central government because investing in any development project, the local authority is the decision maker.”

In addition, it is necessary to develop a mechanism to encourage the participation of the private sector in investing in sustainable development projects in cities. Vietnam should develop a roadmap for easy and convenient implementation of energy efficiency solutions and administrative procedures for procurement, Forni added.

 Delegates at the forum. 

From her view, Do Thanh Huyen, UNDP Vietnam National Policy Analyst on Governance and Participation remarked that Vietnam has been making significant progress, adopting smart cities initiatives in 41 out of 63 of its provinces and municipal cities, and contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

She said Vietnam’s major cities should strive to become not only smart but also sustainable in order to meet the increasing demands for economic development and pressures as a result of population growth.

“The challenge facing these cities is how to apply appropriate technological and non-technological solutions to accommodate all present and future needs - from all economic, social and environmental fronts - of their diverse urban populations, including immigrants, people with disabilities, and people living in poverty,” Huyen said.

Professor Prem Chhetri, Head of Supply Chain department, College of Business and Law at RMIT Melbourne raised another concern which is how the country can protect its own smart cities from the risks of natural disasters, technological waves as well as collecting and building a secure national database for building smart and sustainable cities.

On the occasion of the forum, RMIT’s Centre of Digital Excellence and School of Business & Management launched the whitepaper “Digital Transformation in Vietnam: the SME and SOE experience”, based on a study conducted with managers of small- to medium-sized enterprises and state-owned enterprises in Vietnam.

The forum was built on the success of the first one held by RMIT University and the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee in January, and the memorandum of understanding signed by both parties.