A draft national urban development programme that includes the creation of an urban development investment fund and development of so-called intelligent urban areas has been submitted by the Ministry of Construction to the Prime Minister for approval.
Under the plan, Viet Nam would strive to achieve an urbanisation rate of 38 per cent, with 870 urban areas by 2015, and a 45 per cent rate, with 940 urban areas, by 2020. Indoor living spaces would be at least 26 sq.m per person by 2015, and 29 sq.m by 2020. The rate of solidly-built houses would be at least 65 per cent of total housing by 2015, and 75 per cent by 2020.
Land area for transport infrastructure would be between 15 and 20 per cent, depending on the kind of urban areas.
The development of urban areas is in line with the government's socio-economic development strategy for the 2012-2020 period, which aims for a green economy.
The national development strategy on urban areas includes provisions related to clean water supply, waste water and solid waste treatment, street lighting, urban trees, water drainage and environmental improvement.
To help achieve these goals, an urban development fund would be created, according to experts at the ministry.
The money for the fund is expected to come from the state budget and other capital resources, such as official development assistance (ODA), in addition to capital from various economic sectors.
To ensure the effectiveness of the fund, a mechanism to support urban development investments will also be built.
Tran Ngoc Chinh, chairman of the Viet Nam Urban Planning and Development Association, said building intelligent urban areas was an integral part of the national urban development programme.
The model of "intelligent urban areas" is being used in two cities, Da Nang and Thai Nguyen.
The model emphasises several features, including environmental sustainability, heritage conservation, appropriate technology, infrastructure efficiency, transit-oriented development, regional integration, institutional integrity, and life on a human scale.
Since 2008, Da Nang has been applying this model through the Eco2 cities criteria outlined by the World Bank.
Eco2 Cities create economic opportunities for their citizens in an inclusive, sustainable, and resource-efficient way, while also protecting and nurturing the local ecology and global public goods, such as the environment, for future generations.
The central city of Da Nang, with nearly one million residents, has embarked on a comprehensive modernisation programme that is expected to result in the country's first "e-city" by 2020.
Under this programme, information and communications technology will be used in all major areas of governance, including healthcare, citizen services and transportation.
The e-city programme is being implemented in two phases with six main tasks, which include an e-city and a legal framework for such tasks.
In addition, IT models will be applied in city businesses and throughout the community, and infrastructure for IT will be improved.
Besides Da Nang, Thai Nguyen City in Thai Nguyen Province is also on the path of being built into an intelligent urban area.
In late March, the Thai Nguyen People's Committee and the Viet Nam Urban Planning and Development Association signed an agreement with South Korea's Jungdo Engineering to develop a US$3.5 million intelligent city project in the two districts of Yen Binh and Phu Binh.
Chinh said that ICT infrastructure and facilities were critical in achieving intelligent-city status and sustainable development.
Meanwhile, director of the Centre for Urban and Development Studies Ton Nu Quynh Tran said the national urban development programme must balance the relationship between economic growth and human development.
The urban development focusing on economic growth in the past decades has resulted in "an urban crisis" with headache of environmental pollution, chaotic traffic, disordered urban scenes and increasing crimes.
"It's time for Viet Nam to shift its focus from economic growth to improving human living standards," she said.
Tran pointed out that issues of resettlement and employment must be tackled; or else, social instabilities would be on the rise.
As a measure, any urban development project must have a report assessing its social impacts, Tran said.
Currently, Viet Nam has 755 urban areas, including two special urban types, Ha Noi and HCM City. Urban areas contribute about 70 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) each year .
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