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Green Infrastructure: A Multi-Purpose Solution for Cities

Translated from article on: Sai Gon Times Online

Investing in urban green infrastructure is a growing trend in many of the world’s cities. Cities in Vietnam are also beginning to talk about investing in green infrastructure, which is considered as a multi-purpose solution to their existing urban concerns.

Can Tho City is taking its first steps in urban green infrastructure development. In the “Community training workshop on green infrastructure development” event organized in Can Tho on October 12, Mr Tran Van Giai Phong from ISET-Vietnam emphasized that green infrastructure has a significant role in promoting sustainable development in a city, especially in the context of adverse climate change and environmental pollution impacts.

Mr Phong shared that he had worked with stakeholders in Can Tho from April to September this year to conduct a research on the shocks and stresses faced by the city. The first and foremost shock and stress issue for Can Tho City is flooding, which originates from various causes, including tidal surges, urban development and local rainfall.

Although Can Tho had extended various efforts in addressing flooding issues, especially through projects funded by the World Bank, such as those to build river embankments, roads and drainage culverts to reduce the pressure of flooding. However, as Mr Phong stated, it is critical to develop more integrated measures, ones that can address multiple objectives at the same time.

Besides flooding, Can Tho is also experiencing stress from both water and air pollution. “We had seen a large number of urban drainage infrastructures in Can Tho City, and find that they are often built to fulfil only one particular objective. For example, existing drainage channels only contribute to addressing drainage issues, and the objective of reducing environment pollution has not been integrated,” said Mr Phong, who also added that green infrastructure and green space development is an opportunity for environment pollution reduction objectives to be integrated.

Another type of stress of growing concern in Can Tho City as well as other Cuu Long Delta provinces is riverbank erosion. According to Mr Phong, “When we build hard embankment structures along riverbanks, much of the natural landscape value will be lost. Therefore, in many cities, people have tried to develop technical measures to integrate biological elements into hard structures to ‘soften’ them and to improve local the landscape.”

Above: Mr. Tran Van Gian Phong, representative from ISET-Vietnam presenting at the workshop on October 12. Photo: Trung Chánh

Mr Phong also added that urban green infrastructure is not only about the area of trees planted, but also about how green trees can be incorporated in structural measures to at the same time alleviate water pollution and reduce runoff, flooding and erosion. “These are necessary considerations in new green infrastructure projects in Can Tho,” Mr Phong emphasized.

Another expert, Mr Nguyen Nguyen Minh, representative from the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) shared that green infrastructure can help to address many practical problems in Vietnam cities. Specifically, green infrastructure will improve the landscape, air quality, reduce noise, promote biodiversity and boost economic development. “Regarding biodiversity, the fact is that in cities such as Ho Chi Minh or Can Tho, there are much less birds today than there were before,” Mr Minh provided an example.

According to Mr Minh, CSIRO’s calculations revealed that if green infrastructure is promoted further in Australia, it could help to reduce energy use by 20%, and reduce local temperature by 2-8oC, depending on the specific location and time.

Another benefit of green infrastructure development, according to Mr Minh, is that it helps to increase the quality of urban life, thus increasing real estate prices and promoting investment, tourism and trade. “People prefer areas with green coverage. In Australia, people are willing to pay a premium for houses in a greener area.”

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