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Tuesday, June 15, 2021, 06:56 (GMT+7)
Directions and measures for the Military’s environmental protection nowadays

Environmental protection will help ensure the people’s health and the quality of their life, while greatly contributing to boosting socio-economic development, maintaining political stability, consolidating defence and security, and encouraging the country’s international integration. Environmental developments are closely connected with troops’ health, the Military’s combat readiness capacity, and the building of a revolutionary, regular, elite, gradually modern Vietnam People’s Army (VPA). Therefore, it is necessary to define breakthrough measures for protecting the environment to meet the task requirements in the new situation.

Grasping resolutions, directives, and guiding documents on the protection of environment, the whole VPA has actively performed this work regularly and effectively taken part in protecting the environment in its stationed areas. It should be noted that between 2016 and 2020, the Military achieved a huge positive change in its cadres and soldiers’ awareness and responsibility towards the protection of environment. The entire VPA has made and appraised 146 reports evaluating impacts on the environment by defence projects in a close, qualitative manner on schedule. It has undertaken and applied 26 advanced technical and technological models and solutions to control, minimise, and settle environmental pollution within logistics-technical support and defence industry units, depots, hospitals, training centres, and shooting ranges. It has performed 12 tasks of marine environmental investigation, assessment and monitoring and chemical, radioactive, and acid rain monitoring, while undertaking researches into the protection of natural resources and environment in line with the defence of sea and island sovereignty. It has also settled post-war bombs, mines, unexploded ordnance in the heavily contaminated provinces, such as Quang Binh, Binh Dinh, and Ha Giang. It has dealt with Agent Orange/Dioxin in the airport of Da Nang, initiated the Dioxin treatment project in the airports of Bien Hoa and Asho (Thua Thien - Hue), and opportunely, effectively participated in responding to environmental incidents in some other localities.

Sr. Lt. Gen. Phan Van Giang addressing the launch of the tree planting movement in response to the Prime Minister’s Campaign to plant one billion trees for a green Vietnam

In the upcoming time, the issues, namely environmental pollution, degradation, and incident, climate change, and sea level rise will continue to be complex and intense. The decrease in forest resources, biodiversity, ecosystem as well as disputes over natural resources on land and at sea will possibly take place in various degrees. Meanwhile, natural disaster, epidemics, and non-traditional security challenges will profoundly impact on the country’s development and the performance of the military-defence task. Therefore, to meet the requirements of environmental protection set by the State and the Ministry of National Defence (MND), offices and units should well implement several main measures as follows.

First, master the key issues relating to the protection of environment within the VPA. They include (1) preventing and controlling sources of environmental pollution in military-defence operations, (2) maintaining the operations of the environmental pollution treatment system at military units, (3) ensuring clean water and environmental hygiene at military units, (4) effectively, sustainably using natural resources, safeguarding biodiversity, and protecting the environment at sea and on islands, (5) raising the quality of environmental monitoring, (6) proactively responding to climate change, reducing greenhouse gas, combating environmental incidents, preventing and mitigating natural disasters, (7) handling Agent Orange/Dioxin, chemicals, pesticides, and post-war bombs, mines, and unexploded ordnance, (8) actively taking part in environmental protection campaigns launched by the country and localities in the stationed areas.

Second, grasp and fulfil the targets, requirements and tasks set by the State and MND’s resolutions, directives, and regulations on the environmental protection. Emphasis should be placed on grasping and executing the Law on Environmental Protection passed by the 14th National Assembly on November 17th, 2020, the Resolution 06/NQ-CP, dated January 21st, 2021 by the Government on issuing the Action Programme for the 11th Party Central Committee’s Resolution 24-NQ/TW, dated June 3rd, 2013 on “proactively responding to climate change and enhancing the management of natural resources and environment” according to the Politburo’s Conclusion 56-KL/TW, dated August 23rd, 2019 in line with the VPA’s function, task, and practical condition. At the same time, it is important to continue grasping and executing the Resolution 791-NQ/QUTW, dated December 30th, 2021 by the Central Military Commission on leadership over the scientific, technological, and environmental work within the VPA towards 2020 and beyond as well as the MND’s directives and circulars, namely the Directive 88/CT-BQP, dated November 17th, 2016 on preventing and settling environmental pollution within offices and units and the Circular 133/2015/TT-BQP, dated November 27th, 2015 releasing the Regulations for the VPA’s environmental protection and response to climate change. In this regard, it is essential to be fully aware that environmental protection is a “combat mission in peacetime.” Party committees and commands of offices and units shall take responsibility for the performance of this task before higher echelons’ party committees and commands.

Third, step up the work of propagation and education to raise offices and units’ awareness and responsibility for environmental protection. Significance should be attached to disseminating the legal knowledge of environmental protection. Due regard should be paid to renewing the contents, forms, and methods of propagation relating to environmental protection and including this work in units’ activities. Competent offices should identify responsibility of collectives and individuals for letting serious environmental issues happen within units due to violations of regulations on environmental protection, while considering the results of environmental protection as a criteria for collective and individual assessment and commendation.

Fourth, continue completing legal normative documents, developing environmental protection strategies, and enhancing the capabilities in law management and enforcement across the VPA. Consideration should be given to perfecting mechanisms and policies for environmental protection and including this work in defence plans, strategies, and policies under the direction of sustainable development. Due regard should be paid to completing and supplementing the VPA’s Regulations on protecting the environment and responding to climate change (2014), and  executing the Law on Environmental Protection (2020) in accordance with the Military’s organisational structure and practical condition. In addition, it is vital to design an Environmental Protection Strategy within the MND in the period of 2021-2030 as the basis for units and offices across the VPA to establish targets and tasks of environmental protection in the new period against non-traditional security challenges relating to environmental pollution, degradation, and incidents that will greatly impact on the country’s security, politics, and social order and safety as well as the performance of the military-defence mission.

Fifth, enhance environmental research and apply high technologies to protecting the environment. In the medium terms, emphasis should be placed on undertaking researches into the use and management of natural resources for military-defence operations, into environmental elements for the protection of troop health and the management of weapons and technical equipment, into technological solutions to treat sewage, emissions, and solid wastes during logistics-technical support, defence industry production, and military training, into clean production, the use of clean and renewable energy, and the reuse of wastes as well as into the defence of marine natural resources and environment. Besides, consideration should be given to organising military forces in charge of responding to environmental incidents and climate change, taking part in national environmental monitoring, and controlling cross-border and marine environmental pollution.

Sixth, promote the work of inspection and investigation, handle violations of environment-related law, and settle letters of complaint and denunciation concerning environmental issues. On a yearly basis, competent offices and units shall conduct investigations into the observance of the regulations for assessing impacts on the environment, treating wastes, preventing and fighting against environmental degradation, pollution and incidents during the exploitation of environmental components. Offices and units shall also cooperate with ministries, sectors, and localities in settling letters of complaint and denunciation against violations of environmental protection law as well as in preventing and combating environmental crime.

Seventh, diversify investments in environmental protection. Investments could be from the defence budget, the State’s funds for environmental protection, scientific research, economic development, national target programmes, international cooperation as well as from environmental charges and other types of legal funding. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure reasonable investment in environmental protection from defence projects and guarantee funding for the operation of environmental pollution settlement systems from offices and units’ production, business, and services.

Eighth, proactively, actively take part in domestic and international cooperation to attract resources for environmental protection. Great value should be attached to maintaining cooperation to train cadres in charge of the environmental work and scientific research, transfer environmental technologies, respond to environmental incidents and security and climate change, handle Agent Orange/Dioxin and post-war bombs, mines, and unexploded ordnance, provide information and documents, and conduct the work of propagation so as to raise public awareness of environmental protection. Due regard should be paid to effectively taking part in domestic and international forums on military environmental protection and proactively, actively proposing initiatives on regional and international bilateral and multilateral cooperation relating to the prevention, management, and control of inter-regional, cross-border environmental pollution and incidents.

Environmental protection represents a routine mission of urgency. Grounded on their function and practical condition, offices and units shall develop appropriate, effective, timely measures and plans to protect the environment as the basis for ensuring troops’ health, increasing the Military’s combat readiness capacity, and building a revolutionary, regular, elite, gradually modern VPA.

Maj. Gen., Associate Prof. NGO VAN GIAO, PhD, Head of the Military Science Department

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