Source-to-Sea Management: An Opportunity For Reducing Mismanaged Plastic Waste In Viet Nam

To save the world’s oceans and water resources, more effective tools are needed to tackle pollution. Important answers on how to achieve this are expected from a new pilot project in Dan Nang, Vietnam, where the Source-to-Sea approach will be used, with collaboration between communities upstream and at sea-level. The initiative comes from the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Source-to-Sea approach is gaining more and more attention around the world as a promising way to combat water pollution, since it integrates land, freshwater, and marine resource management, taking into account new research on the complex interlinkages between different ecosystems. The concept will now be applied at the Vu Gia – Thu Bon, which is the ninth-largest river basin in Viet Nam and stands out as the only large river system in Central Viet Nam discharging into the East Sea near Hoi An. Upstream land and water use can have a disproportionate impact on estuaries and coastal environments. Plastic pollution is a scourge in many of the world’s river basins, including those in Viet Nam and an effective holistic approach is needed to manage this form of pollution from land to river and on to the sea.

To address and tackle these challenges IUCN, SIWI and the People’s Committees of Quang Nam Province and Da Nang City organized a stakeholder engagement workshop “Foundations for Source-to-Sea Management: Addressing Solid Waste in Vu Gia – Thu Bon River Basin, Viet Nam” in Ho An City on 14 December.

The local stakeholders decided to initially focus on solid waste, in line with a strong commitment from Quang Nam, Da Dang, and the Government of Viet Nam to combat plastic pollution. At the workshop, the project’s Joint Coordination Committee presented initial results from the Vu Gia – Thu Bon plastic waste flow assessment. Representatives of Viet Nam Urban Environment Company (URENCO) gave their opinions on the solutions that might exist and discussed their experiences from “waste auditing” at a household level in Cu Lao Cham

The participants also used innovative tools from SIWI, such as its new Source-to-Sea Framework for Marine Litter Prevention and Implementing the Source-to-Sea Approach: Guide for Practitioners, the first of its kind. More activities will follow in the project to engage stakeholders and build capacity to improve the management of plastic waste.

The source-to-sea framework for marine litter prevention emphasizes the connection and interdependence of river basins and coastal areas and holistically addresses management of land, freshwater, and marine systems to gain control of plastic waste, preventing it from entering freshwater and marine environments. The approach is spearheaded by the Action Platform for Source-to-Sea Management (S2S Platform), of which both SIWI and IUCN are members, with the financial support of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).