Session Chair: Eric DesRoberts, Ocean Conservancy

This session will take a deep dive into a case study of waste management opportunities in rural Vietnam and will share insights from NGO, industry, and local government representatives.

 Close to 75% of trash in the ocean is dumped directly into the natural environment by households, generally due to inadequate or nonexistent local waste services. While the total volume of marine leakage is highest from urban areas, the proportion of households who dump waste is highest in rural areas, where few, if any, waste services exist.  In Vietnam, over 60% of its population lives in close proximity to waterways and nearly 70% of the population lives in rural areas. Starting in early 2017, Ocean Conservancy worked with The Dow Chemical Company and many organizations in Vietnam to better understand the waste management challenges in rural areas and start to develop potential solutions to address this issue. This session will discuss the key findings of this project, highlight the need for locally appropriate solutions to addressing the entire waste stream, emphasize the benefits of a collaborative approach, and outline the potential to implement and scale solutions specific to rural areas.




A Local Perspective on Challenges, Opportunities, and Existing Efforts to Combat Marine Debris in Vietnam

presenting: Anh Ngoc Pham (Center for Environment and Community Research, Vietnam); authors: Ngoc Pham Anh 2) Hoang Anh (Center for Environment and Community Research, United States), Hoang Anh (Centre for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development (MCD))

In 2017 the Trash Free Seas Alliance worked with The Dow Chemical Company, through Dow’s Leadership in Action program, and many organizations in Vietnam to better understand the waste management challenges in areas surrounding Hanoi. During this time, there were strong relationships built with a number of local organizations active in environmental and marine debris initiatives. The Center for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development (MCD) and the Center for Environment and Community Research (CECR) are two organizations that are doing incredible work in this space and can bring incredible perspectives to this session.

MCD: With a focus on marine and coastal issues, MCD is uniquely positioned to share information on the challenges facing coastal communities in Vietnam. With a prominent role in the local engagement in Ha Long Bay Alliance, the interprovincial coordination of World Biosphere reserves in Red River Delta, and a long standing International Coastal Cleanup leader, MCD has demonstrated strong knowledge about the challenges on the ground as well as the opportunities and needs for coastal communities.\

CECR: Devoted to environmental protection projects based on community participatory approach to maximize social benefits, CECR has long-standing experiences in water governance, institutional analysis, and recommending solutions to change management practices, restoration and protection of the environment. CECR works closely with six provinces in Vietnam, mobilizing the participation of the local authorities, communities, scientists, entrepreneurs, and the media to control water pollution and water debris, and gradually restore polluted water bodies. CECR is currently applying this approach in a project in Danang, Central Vietnam to eliminate marine debris and increase plastic recycling.


Coastal Clean Ups in Vietnam – Looking Backwards and Facing Forward

presenting: Trang Nguyen Thi Thu (Centre for Supporting Green Development – GreenHub, Vietnam); authors: Nguyen Thi Thu Trang (Centre for Supporting Green Development – GreenHub, Vietnam), Boris Fabres (Centre for Supporting Green Development)

Since 2000 Vietnam has implemented numerous coastal and beach cleanup events. These have involved local communities, youth, students, government agencies and were mostly coordinated by Vietnamese and international non-governmental organizations, more recently with involvement of the private sector. On the positive side, these operations have stimulated much enthusiasm, especially among youth and provided a very useful overview of the diversity of coastal litter. This has helped to grow interest and concern about the state of litter pollution in Vietnam. At the same time, the inconsistency of coastal clean-up practices and incomplete data collection and lack of an overall marine litter program in the country to unite marine litter initiatives have compromised the value of these occasional events. This presentation and paper will review and summarize past clean-up events, lessons learned and specifically how these experiences may help to guide future corrective actions in Vietnam. It will also identify the main players in Vietnam that include coastal and marine litter activities in their work programs, relationships to wider waste management challenges, and issues of plastic pollution. The waste management, marine litter and plastics environmental, gender community and networking program initiatives of the new Vietnamese NGO, GreenHub – Centre for Supporting Green Development (website: will be presented.


Trash Free Seas Alliance Exploring Waste Management Challenges in Vietnam

presenting: Eric DesRoberts (Ocean Conservancy, United States); authors: Eric DesRoberts (Ocean Conservancy, United States)

Vietnam has been identified as one of the top countries contributing to plastic waste leakage into the ocean. This is largely a result of a relatively rapidly growing economy with a waste infrastructure that has not been able to keep pace. In 2017 the Trash Free Seas Alliance worked with The Dow Chemical Company, through Dow’s Leadership in Action program, and many organizations in Vietnam to better understand the waste management challenges in areas surrounding Hanoi. As this work comes to a close (officially in November of 2017), we are left with some interesting findings, including a new understanding of material flows and waste processing in areas surrounding Hanoi, confirmations on some of our research assumptions heading into this project – specifically around some of the challenges around waste collection and processing, new insights into the incredible efforts of many of the local organizations working to address these challenges, and additional questions that we had not considered.

During this panel, I would like to discuss this research experience, but more importantly I would like to include this in the context of building the relationships with the other panelists (tentatively MCD and CECR). Both are NGOs based in Vietnam and have active environmental and marine debris initiatives. Through this work and the newly established relationships, we hope to highlight opportunities for engagement to measurably reduce marine debris.