For a sustainable ocean

Vietnam has issued many policies on natural resources management, environmental protection, climate change adaptation and sustainable development of the marine economy, contributing to protecting the environment and preserving blue and sustainable oceans.
Waste collection on Cua Lo beach, Nghe An Province.
Waste collection on Cua Lo beach, Nghe An Province.

Oceans, seas and coastal areas are important for food security and public health, making an essential contribution to hunger eradication and poverty reduction, through the creation of sustainable livelihoods. However, humanity faces problems such as climate change, unsustainable exploitation and use of marine resources, and marine environmental pollution, especially ocean plastic waste pollution. These are global problems, requiring each country’s response efforts, as well as close cooperation of the international community.

Vietnam is a maritime country and the sea is an integral part of its sovereignty, a living space and a gateway for international exchanges, closely linked to the cause of national construction and defence. Therefore, sustainable development of the marine economy is always one of the major policies of the Vietnamese Party and State. The country focuses on sustainable marine economic development as the foundation of green growth and biodiversity conservation and ensuring the harmony between economic and natural ecosystems, between conservation and development, and between the interests of coastal and landlocked localities. It also promotes the potential and advantages of the sea and creates motivation for the country’s economic development, towards turning Vietnam into a powerful sea-based nation.

With about 50% of the country’s population living in lowland and coastal areas, Vietnam is considered one of the most vulnerable countries, suffering from many negative impacts of climate change and rising sea levels. Under socio-economic development pressure and recent cross-border marine environmental pollution, Vietnam is encountering many challenges related to the aquatic environment, such as domestic solid waste pollution and pollution of coastal seawater, especially ocean plastic waste pollution.

The Party and State have issued many important guidelines and policies on resource management, environmental protection, climate change adaptation and sustainable marine economic development, including Resolution No. 24/NQ-TW dated June 3, 2013, of the 11th Party Central Committee on proactively responding to climate change, strengthening resource management and environmental protection; Resolution No. 36/NQ-TW dated October 22, 2018, of the 12th Party Central Committee on the Strategy for sustainable development of Vietnam’s marine economy to 2030, with a vision to 2045; Law on Environmental Protection 2020; and Law on Environment, Marine and Island Resources 2015. The country also built a Strategy for sustainable exploitation and use of resources, protection of marine and island environment until 2030, with a vision to 2050; a National environmental protection strategy until 2030, with a vision to 2050 and many other legal documents related to this issue. These legal documents are expected to gradually raise awareness about the role of the sea and islands in socio-economic development, national sovereignty and security, and climate change adaptation.

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Le Minh Ngan, said the ocean nourishes humanity and all life on earth, but knowledge about the ocean remains very limited. The catastrophic impacts and consequences caused to the ocean are alarming in many parts of the world. Therefore, World Oceans Day (June 8) 2024, with the theme “Awaken New Depth”, calls on countries and organisations to jointly explore and awaken knowledge about the ocean, and work together to make changes to protect the ocean, for a blue and sustainable ocean.

Responding to World Oceans Day, Vietnam Seas and Islands Week (from June 1 to 8, 2024) had the theme “Sustainable management and use of marine space”. This is an opportunity for Vietnam to affirm its potential and determination to sustainably develop marine economic sectors while protecting environmental resources and national sovereignty at sea.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment requests relevant ministries, sectors and localities to focus on communicating the State’s policies and laws about the sea and islands, Vietnam’s legal and legitimate rights and interests at sea, the importance of islands and oceans, and the minimisation of conflicts in the exploitation and use of marine space, to achieve sustainable development goals. On the other hand, it is necessary to foster science and technology and ensure national defence, security and effective international cooperation, gradually building Vietnam into a strong sea-based economy.

For coastal localities, it is advisable to better manage and use marine and island resources in combination with protecting marine biodiversity. They should proactively and effectively respond to climate change and rising sea levels while strengthening the collection and treatment of waste and plastic waste along the coast and on islands.