At the “CEO 100 Tea Connect” event on Thursday, Phan Van Mai, chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee, said the city faces challenges such as climate change, traffic congestion, labor shortage work and the impact of the economic cycle on economic growth. To overcome them, the city is starting to restructure and make the green economy a key driver of its growth.
The Ho Chi Minh City-based event saw 100 CEOs from local and international organizations come together to taste specialty tea, as part of the “Ho Chi Minh City Economic Forum 2023”. This was the first time HCMC organized a professional networking event under the “tea party” concept.
Han Sang Doeg, executive vice president of Samsung Engineering Vietnam, said he is observing and considering investing in wastewater treatment and waste-to-energy in HCMC.
His company also proposed a strategy it called the “integrated environmental complex.” This would involve a circular economy, on-site treatment of water, waste and biogas, and self-generated energy rather than electricity from external sources.
For Han Sang Doeg, from the planning stage, Samsung and related parties must work together to find optimal solutions.
“After receiving policy support from the government, we will take responsibility for the entire value chain through promotions, technological applications, investment launches and the provision of solutions for financial structuring, design, construction and operations management,” he said.
Gabor Fluit, president of EuroCham, said the European Green Deal (EGD) and the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism provide opportunities and challenges for companies exporting their goods to his region. As a result, the group would be willing to help find ways to operate within the law.
“We hope to help through technology transfer, model sharing, project capacity building and from there help HCMC become an export hub to the EU. In the coming months “Coming soon, EuroCham will organize a series of events to encourage Vietnamese businesses to adapt to the EGD,” he said.
Nguyen Thi Mai Thanh, CEO of refrigeration electrical engineering company REE, also said that HCMC has not yet met the demand of the circular economy. She also hopes her company’s projects will be approved more quickly.
REE waited 18 months to determine the location of a 2,000 tonne per day energy recovery plant.
“We can invest in solar power on all office and school roofs and sell electricity at power company prices,” she said.
The three-year-old proposal has not yet been considered.
Some international banks are looking for opportunities to disburse “green” financing (loans for sustainable development projects) to HCMC.
Tracy Wong Harris, head of sustainable finance in Asia at Standard Chartered, said her bank had a substantial budget for areas of sustainable innovation and hoped to work with the city on disbursements.
According to Ramachandran AS, CCO of Citi Vietnam, HCMC is a center of green finance, with many multinational companies committed to sustainable growth. However, the private sector still lacks capital for the green economy.
“We plan to provide medium and long-term financing for green projects, ensuring increased competitiveness for manufacturers,” he said.
To attract sustainable sources of investment and help businesses feel secure when contributing to the development of a green economy, experts at the event offered their experience and recommendations.
Ricardo Valente, municipal councilor for economy and finance of the city of Porto (Portugal), proposed that HCMC creates “a circular business conundrum that businesses will have to solve.” Accordingly, the best solution will be chosen.
Tax exemption can also be an incentive. “We built environmental indices and tax exemptions for companies meeting those indices,” he said.
Ichisaka Hirofumi, director of international relations of Osaka Province (Japan), said that in 1973, this province was the first to implement a management model with clear regulations on environmental factors.
Osaka has thus become a pioneer in solving pollution problems and maintaining stable growth.
In the immediate future, businesses believe that HCMC must provide central ministries and branches with the means to develop standards and criteria considered “green” for each industry.
“HCMC should work with associations and departments to establish criteria and legal barriers to make the textile and clothing industry green,” said Pham Van Viet, CEO of VitaJean and vice president of the HCMC Clothing, Embroidery and Knitting Association.
Lê Anh, sustainability director of DUYTAN Plastic Recycling, said he hoped the city would have a specialized agency to help out companies in the recycling sector.
“We also need a set of regulations for recycled products and safety standards for recycled products,” he said.
Standard Chartered wants the State Bank to create a more favorable environment for green finance.
According to Phan Van Mai, HCMC is developing a green strategic framework for 2030 and beyond. It also identifies people and businesses as the center of transformation, focusing on four areas.
First there are green resources, notably highly qualified human resources, green finance and international cooperation. Second, there is green infrastructure, including energy conversion, water conservation and resource circulation. Third, there is ecological behavior in terms of consumption, transport and construction. Fourth, there are the industries and areas pioneering green transformation, such as high-tech manufacturing, startups, innovations, tourism, agriculture, food and the transformation of Can Gio district into a green destination (carbon neutral by 2035).
Mai said currently HCMC has certain groups of issues requiring suggestions from experts and businesses.
The first is energy conversion. Currently, the city consumes around 90 million kWh per day, with external sources being the main source of supply. Thermoelectricity and clean energy only generate 7.6%. HCMC’s goal is to have 25% clean electricity by 2025 and 35-40% clean electricity by 2030. Obstacles to this goal lie in policies, institutions, capital and technology.
Second, there is green transportation. The urban traffic system is dominated by personal vehicles, mainly motorcycles. HCMC had 777 motorcycles and 81 cars per 1,000 residents in 2019. The work here is to reduce the number of personal vehicles.
Third, there is waste and sewage treatment. Every day, HCMC generates approximately 9,500 tons of solid waste, or an average of 0.98 kg of household waste per person per day. The current problems remain politics, capital and technology.
Fourth, there are carbon credits. The city needs expert advice on legal issues, pilot models and modes of operation.
The HCMC president said the city will take into account the comments during the tea party to complete the green development strategic framework until 2030, this September.
“We will also propose to issue standards based on the research of international standards governing production, consumption and green development activities,” he added.