“Sustainable Cities – Challenges and Opportunities” Conference

By 2015 our planet will have 550 cities with a population of more than one million. Cities are the engines that drive future growth, thereby offering opportunities for development, employment and prosperity. However, the special needs of cities present enormous challenges. So how can we make cities more energy-efficient, more environmentally friendly and thus more livable? How many resources do they consume today and what measures and strategies are in place to build a more sustainable future? These questions have been raised and discussed at the workshop titled: “Sustainable cities – Challenges and Opportunities” which was co-hosted for the first time by the Ministry of Construction, Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Siemens Vietnam on 10 July 2012. This event attracted more than 250 participants who are senior government policy and decision-makers, business leaders, city planners and media to come together and address emerging challenges and opportunities of cities with a view to long-term and sustainable development.
One in two people worldwide currently lives in a city. According to recent forecasts, there will be two billion new city dwellers by the year 2030 – roughly 60 percent of the world’s population will be living in urban environments. In addition to their increasing economic importance, urban centers are responsible for rising demand for energy and resources around the world. They consume around 75 percent of the world’s energy and about 60% of the world’s freshwater, and produce more than 80 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, mostly CO2.
The vigorous development of cities presents decision-makers and urban planners with enormous infrastructure challenges. Not only is it important to guarantee a high quality of life for city dwellers, but also to ensure that metropolises remain economically competitive and that resources are handled responsibly.
Vietnam is also facing the same challenges as a result of city booming and vigorous urbanization countrywide. The key challenge is how to support economic growth while also keeping under control the ecological, infrastructure and social impact associated with continuing urbanization, as well as how to bring a good quality of life for city residents.
”The Government of Vietnam has paid a lot of attention to the on-going urbanization process. We understand very well the role and importance of urban centers in supporting the integration of Vietnam’s economy to the world’s economy as well as in promoting sustainable growth in the region. Our government’s target is to establish a system of sustainable urban centers with suitable capacity and diversity across the country. Urban development is not just for socio-economic purpose but also for national security”, stated the Minister of Construction Trinh Dinh Dung.  
According to Dr. Vu Tien Loc, Chairman and President of VCCI: “Being the driver for city development, our business community has already realized the necessity of having a more active voice and role in coordinating with the Government and related agencies to develop sustainable and prosperous urban centers thus increasing the competitiveness of the national economy in general and of the local business in particular”.
“We understand very well the challenges which Vietnam is facing, and we have been working side by side with Vietnamese partners and customers to address them. Providing cities with the best possible products, solutions and services is a strategically important task for Siemens, and is part of our company’s growth strategy. Our comprehensive portfolio of products, systems and services offers solutions to the challenges facing cities in the areas of transportation, buildings, lighting, power supply, healthcare, water and security in sustainable ways”, said Mr. Lothar Herrmann, Siemens CEO for ASEAN-Pacific Cluster.
Welcome remark by Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Hoang Trung Hai
Panel discussion: (from left to right) Ms. Do Tu Lan – Deputy Director of Urban Development Agency, Mr. Le Manh Hung – Vice Minister of Transport, Dr. Dao Duy Khuong, Vice Chairman of VCCI, Mr. Lothar Herrmann – CEO of Siemens ASEAN-Pacific Cluster, Mr. Hoang Quoc Vuong – Vice Minister of Industry and Trade, Mr. Do Nam Thang – Deputy Director of Natural Resources and Environment Management Institue, Mr. Le Vinh – Director of Hanoi Institure of Construction and Planning.