New center aims to facilitate more long-term planning in Vietnam.
The Asian Institute of Technology along with international development partners have established a Vietnam Learning Center for Environmental and Social Sustainability to foster the exchange of knowledge and the capacity to build according to environmental and social safeguards and standards in Vietnam.
The center is being established with initial funding from the Australian Government. Other development partners have committed to provide technical support. A memorandum of understanding was signed to this effect. This was the result of efforts by different developmental partners, including The World Bank Group, Asian Development Bank (ADB), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Asian Institute of Technology Center in Vietnam.
"Vietnam's social and economic development strategies are in need of more environmentally responsible and sustainable thinking. This requires attention to environmental and social safeguards in executing the country's huge infrastructure development program," said Victoria Kwakwa, the World Bank Country Director for Vietnam. "The mission of this center is to help fill the gap in Vietnam's social and environmental safeguards capacity."
The learning center, housed at the Asian Institute of Technology Center in Vietnam, will offer services to project management units, district and provincial authorities, consultants and other stakeholders in social and environmental issues.
The first activity of the center is a 2-week course for its trainers. Specific programs targeted to local institutions, including program management units that are implementing donor-funded infrastructure, will be designed to promote sustainable infrastructure and ensure integration of environmental and social issues within the life cycle of projects.
Given the surge of investment in Vietnam's infrastructure sector and challenges regarding environmental pollution and climate change, the center is expected to play a critical role in the long term planning of development projects and programs in Vietnam and making sure that they are sustainable.
"Investments in Vietnam's infrastructure will be more durable and effective, and benefit from a lower risk of serious problems, if Vietnam finds ways to incorporate social and environmental safeguards," said USAID Vietnam Mission Director Joakim Parker. "The center will help provide the country with the latest information and capacity to achieve this, as will other efforts like USAID's to support a broader base for decision-making."