The head of the Vietnam Rivers Network, Dao Trong Tu, was speaking at the network's annual workshop in Hanoi on December 4.

The benefits from rivers are huge but protection seems to be ignored, he said.

A rapid increase in population and fast socio-economic development are resulting in uncontrolled and unsustainable tapping of rivers' potential.

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An aerial view of the Mekong River in Vietnam

Rivers are associated with human life, so protecting rivers helps to ensure the survival and prosperity of the country, he said.

The workshop was an opportunity for relevant parties and the community to discuss measures to protect rivers and work towards sustainable development, said Tu.

At the seminar, participants gave presentations on issues such as water security in the context of climate change and socio-economic development in Vietnam, as well as the development of hydro-electricity on the Mekong River and exploiting, using and protecting sustainable water resources.

Delegates also discussed energy development and water pollution, including small/medium hydropower development in Vietnam such as Sapa Hydropower Plant in Northern Lao Cai province and Mu stream hydroelectric plant in Northern Hoa Binh province.

Director of Center for Sustainable Development of Water Resources and Adaptation to Climate Change (CEWAREC) Dang Ngoc Vinh said a huge amount of land is needed to build a small/medium hydroelectricity plant.

One megawatt of a medium/small hydroelectricity plant occupies about 7.41ha of land on average.

The construction of a hydroelectric plant will also greatly affect households living in the areas that are planned to house the hydroelectric plant.

Vietnam needs to eliminate hydroelectric works that have great impacts on the environment and tourism landscape and people's livelihoods, according to Vinh.

It is also necessary to develop a system to monitor minimum flow in some rivers and streams in the provinces and policies to mobilize capital from people investing in construction of power projects to link the interests of both businesses and people for sustainable development.

For hydropower projects located in tourism areas or related to cultural heritage, appropriate policies should be in place to exploit the benefits of both hydropower and tourism projects and protect the environment, Vinh said.

Speaking at the workshop, Dr. Bui Duc Hien, Division of Environment and Natural Resources Law under the Institute of State and Law, said Vietnam needs to enhance the role of agencies in protecting water resources sustainably and raise awareness for people about this issue.

The use of science and technology in prevention, detection and treatment of water environmental pollution as well as forest protection and development also needed to be improved, he said.

There should be a national strategy on attracting investment in line with the strategy of sustainable development, green growth and environmentally-friendly industries, Hien added.

Source: VNA