A policy research forum was held in Hanoi on March 15 to look into the enhancement of Vietnam-Japan cooperation for the sustainable energy development in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) in the post-pandemic period.
The event provided an occasion to review impacts on cooperation in energy development and issues affecting the building of sustainable energy policies in the GMS, thereby suggesting some policies to promote the two countries’ cooperation and their contributions to sustainable energy development in the subregion.
Dr Tran Thi Hong Minh, Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), said the Vietnamese economy has been growing relatively fast, and economic growth is also among the important targets set by the Party and Government for the decade to come.
That will lead to huge demand for energy. To sustainably meet this need, the country is considering the development of different energy sources, without relying on only fossil fuel or hydropower, she noted.
Vietnam has realised the importance of sustainable energy development in the GMS and frequently and proactively discussed this issue with other member countries, she said, highly valuing the active participation and support from partners both inside and outside the subregion.
In recent years, the cooperation among the GMS countries, comprising Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and China’s Yunnan and Guangxi provinces, have increased substantially.
Together with the intensive integration in ASEAN and ASEAN Plus, the GMS nations have also issued many initiatives and boosted ties in numerous fields, from trade – investment to infrastructure development, energy, telecommunications, human resources development, and environmental protection, among which energy is an important area strongly linked with the cooperation and development in other sectors, according to Minh.
She held that although the GMS countries are forecast to need more energy in the next decade, it will be hard for them to develop sustainably and effectively if their energy policies are built separately and inharmoniously.
They should enhance cooperation towards a sustainable and harmonious energy policy at the regional level, the CIEM director went on.
Fukunari Kimuara from the Faculty of Economics at Japan’s Keio University said the GMS is assessed as the most successful subregion with fast economic growth and poverty reduction over the last three decades.
However, he noted, the development gap here remains wide, and sustainable development-related issues like water resources management and the environment have become urgent issues in the subregion.
Nguyen Anh Duong, head of the CIEM Department for General Economic Issues and Integration Studies, pointed out the importance of ensuring energy security, noting that Vietnam needs a more balanced energy structure, facilitate the reasonable export and import of energy, and promote more substantive discussion on energy and sustainable development with other GMS nations.
At the forum, Minh said there remains much room for Japan to bolster energy cooperation with the GMS countries, suggesting that besides taking part in suitable energy projects, Japan can also share experience in monitoring and assessing projects’ impacts and building plans and solutions to deal with related risks.
With Japanese firms’ increased presence in the GMS, a sustainable energy policy of this region will also benefit the Northeast Asian nation, she added.