Vietnam has identified the importance of shifting away from traditional models of growth in order to sustain the development gains of recent decades. The country has adopted a National Green Growth Strategy (VGGS) and developed a corresponding Green Growth Action Plan. However, the cost to implement the VGGS is estimated to be at least US$30 billion, requiring a significant increase to current financing levels.
Vietnam is undergoing significant rural to urban migration, which has led to increased social and environmental challenges. Over the past decade, 700 square kilometres of land have been converted into urban areas, inhabited by 7.5 million new city residents.
In addition, transitioning to renewable energy will be a major stretch for Vietnam. Vietnam’s GHG inventory (2010) revealed a 602% increase since 1990, with emissions per unit of GDP surpassing all other Asia-Pacific developing countries except for China. GHG emissions are fuelled by domestic coal consumption, which has increased by 21% between 2013 and 2014 alone. Coal currently accounts for 36% of electricity supply and is projected to increase 56% by 2030. While over 98% of the population is connected to the grid, demand is expected to increase by a further 10% a year until 2030.
Key policies and governance approach
In the Decision No.1658/QĐ-TTg issued October 2021, the Prime Minister approved the National Strategy on Green Growth for the period of 2021-2030, with a vision to 2050 (called “The Strategy”); to replace the existing and expired Strategy for the period 2011-2020, as well as to address the remaining gaps and challenges.
The Strategy for the period 2021-2030, with a vision to 2050, sets out goals, including general and specific goals for each aspect of green growth such as: (i) reducing the intensity of GHG emissions; (ii) greening economic sectors; (iii) greening lifestyles and promoting sustainable consumption; and (iv) equality, inclusion, and resilience in the green transition.
Successes and Remaining Challenges
After 8 years of implementing the previous Strategy, the people's and community's awareness of the role and meaning of green growth has been significantly improved, gradually changing production and living behaviour and taking many necessary actions, which significantly contributed to the implementation of green growth.
Some key objectives, tasks and targets of the Strategy for the period 2011-2020 have achieved positive results such as: Solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been widely deployed in all sectors; greenhouse gas emissions from energy activities have decreased by 12.9% compared to the normal development option; energy consumption as a percentage of GDP has decreased by an average of 1.8% per year; clean production enterprises increased from 28% in 2010 to 46.9% in 2020; forest coverage reached 42% in 2020; and outstanding green credits reached about 238 trillion dong in 2018 (235% more than in 2015).
Initiatives and Development Plans
A report by HSBC Vietnam highlighted that Vietnam's economy, which has developed rapidly over the past decade, is a fertile land for investors who are seeking growth. As such, millions of US dollars have been poured into green growth projects in Vietnam.
French development finance organization, Proparco, recently provided a US$50 million loan for the Ho Chi Minh City Development Joint Stock Commercial Bank (HDBank) to lend green projects to promote sustainable development.
The International Financial Corporation (IFC) said the implementation of the national target on reducing total GHG emissions by 9% by 2030 to mitigate the effects of climate change will provide a climate investment opportunity worth about US$753 billion for the country in the 2016-2030 period.
In July 2021, the IFC gave a US$100 million long-term loan to the Orient Commercial Joint Stock Bank (OCB) to further promote the contribution of the private sector in green and sustainable growth in Vietnam. The purpose of this credit was to extend lending to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), especially to promote the financing for climate-friendly projects in Vietnam.
In May 2021, the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) received a US$100 million loan and technical assistance worth 300,000 euros (US$366,000) from the French Development Agency (AFD). The capital is used to finance businesses investing in the fields of environmental protection, climate change response, and green growth.
Earlier, a series of banks including the Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam (Agribank), Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank), Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank, Nam A Commercial Joint Stock Bank also got long-term loans from international financial institutions to fund green growth projects in Vietnam.
Goals and Ambitions
Through its new Green Growth Strategy, Vietnam has set specific goals and targets for the economic sector by 2050.
Key targets until 2030 include: the primary energy consumption per unit of GDP reduces by 1.0–1.5% annually on average for the 2021-2030 period; the proportion of renewable energy in the total primary energy supply reaches 15-20%; the digital economy accounts for 30% of the GDP; the forest cover remains stable at 42%; in at least 30% of the total irrigatable dryland crop area, advanced and water-saving irrigation methods shall be applied.
Key recommendations and solutions have been highlighted in the latest draft of the new National Green Growth Strategy for the period 2021-2030, Vision to 2050. Cross-cutting solutions include: (i) develop and improvement of the institutions, policies; (ii) communication and awareness enhancement; (iii) development of human resources and green jobs; (iv) resource mobilization; (v) science and technology, innovation, digital transformation; (vi) green culture and lifestyle; (vii) green and sustainable consumption; (viii) waste management; (ix) water resources and land resources management; (x) international cooperation; and (xi) ensure that various groups, especially the entities affected by the change of growth model, the vulnerable groups (such as women, ethnic minority people, poor people, persons with disabilities) have equal access to opportunities, information, infrastructure, essential social services to adapt to new industries and employment during the green transition.
The second set of solutions is by priority industry clusters, such as energy, transport, industry, construction, agriculture, forestry, health, and tourism.
 Viet Nam National Green Growth Strategy (2012). Available: https://www.giz.de/en/downloads/VietNam-GreenGrowth-Strategy-giz2018.pdf
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 [Online]. Available: https://gggi.org/country/vietnam/
 [Online]. Available: http://www.mpi.gov.vn/Pages/tinbai.aspx?idTin=49910&idcm=140