From 13-15th of September 2010, UN-HABITAT together with Portland State University (PSU) and the Peoples Committee of Hoi An organized a joint scoping study workshop in Hoi An with the intent to create new ideas regarding the development of the first eco-city in Vietnam, namely Hoi An.
The plan of eco-city development in Hoi An has been approved to build "a living laboratory in Viet Nam" from now until 2030 and will go through three phases. The first phase which is between 2010-2015 is to find approaches that potentially include encouraging public transportation, developing eco-tourism, promoting environment preservation, establishing pollution control mechanism, and developing other eco friendly practices.
In this context, Hoi An eco-city scoping workshop gave an opportunity to the local authority of Hoi An to learn best practices of urban sustainability from the leader of (PSU), to share concepts of "integrated urban sustainability" and "interdisciplinary approaches" among local officials and PSU faculties, to have a solution-oriented discussion on current challenges and seek for innovative localization approaches for the plan in the future, to identify applicability and feasibility of future projects in the form of PSU-Hoi An cooperation, based on a local thinking and planning perspectives, and to establish a concrete long term collaborative mechanism in the field of joint research and consultation for urban sustainability practices.
"This normative idea is a starting point to join efforts of researchers, related partners and local authorities to contribute for the "Green Growth" of Hoi An. UN-HABITAT is committed to work together with other UN agencies such as ILO, FAO, UNESCO and UNIDO to find resources from One Plan to implement this idea." Dr Nguyen Quang, UN-HABITAT Programme Manager said.
Participants brought with very interesting and comprehensive presentations. These includes Hoi An's current approaches and practices in sustainable development, and best practices and innovative ideas of Portland sustainability practices. They were "Overview of development contexts and sustainability issues" from UN-HABITAT, "Hoi An sustainable development issues and Hoi An Eco-city development strategy by 2030", "Sustainable tourism development and management strategy" from UNESCO, "Sustainable Urban planning for Hoi An city" from Da Nang University, "Green production in Hoi An" from UNIDO, "Urban Rural linkage impacting Hoi An as an Eco-city from FAO, and especially introduction of PSU sustainability initiative.
"Knowledge of Portland is to serve not only to Portland but the whole world. We have many different ideas about how to help Hoi An become eco-city. We will introduce effective tools, innovative ideas and initiatives which make Portland become the greenest city in America so that Hoi An can apply it into the long-term plan" Dr Marcus Ingle from PSU said. Principally, it is UGB (Urban Growth Boundary) in which every city must have the line to demarcate urban and rural land, and growth – compact and sustainable growth – that preserve resources and create a liable city with vibrant downtowns. It is also innovation based on a participatory planning with many subsequence plans such as regional transportation plans, urban renewable plans for specific neighbourhood, bicycle master plan, and adoption of carbon reduction plan. More importantly the newest initiative "Eco-district" is introduced a concept of highly integrated district or neighbourhood that is a) resources efficient, captures, manages and reuses a majority of energy water and waste on site, b) home to range of transportation options, provides a rich diversity of habitat and open space, and enhance community engagement and wellbeing - to scale up sustainable development across the city.
In line with the definition and application of the initiatives of Eco-district in Portland, PSU and Hoi An focused on four priorities to develop a concept note for the eco-city plan: Renewable energy and Habitat conservation, Urban management and Infrastructure, Social development and Cultural preservation, and sustainable Leadership/Governance.
In the workshops, all participants not only had an opportunity to share and discuss the experiences and ideas about urban sustainable development but also visited Tra Que vegetable village, Hoi An water supply factory and the ancient town of Hoi An. Three site visits created a chance for them to some extent to come up with practicable ideas to discuss about the four focused thematic areas. Through such active thematic group discussions, a comprehensive pathway to develop eco-city of Hoi An appeared clearer with establishing inspirational visions, identifying high priority challenges, conducting, contextual assessment with critical trends and forces influencing solutions, and finding feasible solutions to address challenges and detailed action plans.
The workshop was finalized with witnessing such a strong commitment of stakeholders including the Chairman of Hoi An. "It is such a useful and practical workshop for Hoi An eco city plan because we can find very good and new ideas from the experience of Portland as well as from different sectors of society of Hoi An. The contents of ideas are practicable and applicable explicitly for Hoi An with options of localization of the concepts and approaches. But the most important thing is that we have to connect strength of all partners to implement the plan. The concept of eco-city is very broad and it includes eco-thought of people. I believe that with the help of PSU, UN-HABITAT and Da Nang University, we can improve knowledge and change the attitude of the leaders about this issue of Urban sustainability practices. Together with selecting suitable ideas with high priorities, preparing a concrete plan, making a strong commitment of all partners will make the ambitious plan of building an eco-city of Hoi An become true" Mr Le Van Giang, Chairman of City people's Committee of Hoi An, said.
UN-HABITAT, PSU, Hoi An, and Da Nang University plan to collaborate long term to establish the first ever Eco-city of Vietnam, which would make a promising future for whole nation within a green sustainable land, making great contribution to the world.
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