As part of the European Union Climate Diplomacy Weeks 2019, from October 12th-13th, the European Union (EU) delegation supported Keep Hanoi Clean's effort to organize a clean up event at Red river and Long Bien bridge.

Speaking at the event, the Ambassador Designate of the European Union Delegation to Vietnam, Mr Giorgio Aliberti, said: “Although I’ve been in Hanoi only for a short time, I know that the Long Bien bridge is one of the most iconic parts of Hanoi. Therefore, the EU is proud to support this initiative. The EU is engaged in a global campaign on annual beach clean-up efforts. While there is no beach in Hanoi, cleaning up our living area is a good example of action that we can take ourselves. If we want to achieve more sustainable development, we have to ensure nature will be in a position to continue providing benefits: clean air, clean water, foods and medicines through healthy soils, healthy oceans… And for this, we all need to change our behavior and be more respectful to nature. The purpose of the event is not only to cleanup but also to raise awareness".

Photo: Khanh Hung

Behind the Long Bien market there is one small community with around 300 to 500 people living in metal shacks without waste management services. The alley leading to their houses is too long and narrow for the environmental service companies to enter and remove the waste that is generated daily by local residents. Due to lack of access, the local people throw most of their waste into a ravine alongside the river which when flooded connects directly to the Red river. When trash is not taken away by the Red river, it’s often burned by locals.

Keep Hanoi Clean organized a cleanup event in November 2017 and achieved great results. The waste management company estimated that 14 tons of wastes were removed from the location. The area stayed clean for five months after the event, but then slowly returned back to its previous condition.

Photo: Khanh Hung

Mr James Joseph Kendall, the founder of Keep Hanoi Clean, shared that: “The first step of our plan to permanently solve this disastrous problem is to organize another cleanup event, to once again bring attention to the problem. After that, we would initiate planning a system for waste removal with the government and local residents, ensuring the system for waste removal be implemented before April 2020. After the program is initiated, one more final cleanup event will be organized in April of next year.”

As part of the program, the area would be provided large trash cans and families would share the daily task of making sure the trash cans are taken to the street, where waste removal is possible. Due to many poor families in the area, implementing an incentive based program for a period of time to reward local families who take the responsibility to keep their neighborhood clean would both benefit their community financially and would reduce the waste released into the Red river.

The target audience of the EU Climate Diplomacy Weeks is the young generations, whose futures are the most threatened by the impact of climate change. Climate change is a pressing reality today and, if we fail to act now, it will increasingly affect the future of the young, their children and grandchildren. It is time to respond to this call to action.

Photo: Khanh Hung

According to Mr Giorgio Aliberti, the EU wants to show our support to the youth and value their efforts in bringing awareness to such a worrying and pressing issue like climate change and environmental degradation. Earth's future depends on our engagement, and so does life as we know it.

Vietnam has been ranked among the five countries likely to be severely affected by climate change and its related disasters. Consistent to its international commitments regarding Climate Change and Sustainable Development Goals, the EU is actively helping Vietnam on mitigation through support for an energy transition, and adaptation through funding studies on climate change impact and support for adaptation measures.

Under its 2014-2020 budget, the EU allocated EUR350 million for programs on environment, natural resources and climate change in the nation, and for sustainable investment projects./.