The rapid development of industrial zones in Vietnam posed serious environmental challenges in terms of wastewater, solid waste and exhaust fumes, said Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Pham Khoi Nguyen.

"Those challenges, if not well managed, could lead to critical environmental disasters and contribute significantly to climate change which would result in negative impacts on the population, particularly the quality of life," he said.

"In addition, it would destroy all of our industrial growth achievements in particular and our economic development and social advancements in general," Nguyen said.

These potential problems were the motivation behind the national environmental report for 2009 which took a close look at the environment in Vietnam's IZs.

The report, which was funded by the Danish International Development Agency, gave a thorough analysis of the environmental pollution situations in 223 IZs nationwide and the related management mechanisms used by the authorities, said Bui Cach Tuyen, director of the ministry's General Department on Environment.

Tuyen, who was also a member of the editorial team, said the report provided alarming insight into the degradation of the environment in many IZs. "As many as 70 percent out of 1 million cubic metres of wastewater from IZs has been discharged directly into nearby rivers. Fifty-seven percent of IZs haven't been equipped with consolidated wastewater treatment systems."

"The amount of solid waste produced is on an upward trend while the collection and processing of solid waste in IZs appears to have many shortcomings," he said.

Deputy Head of the Danish Embassy Tove Degnbol said by publishing this report, the relevant authorities and general public would be better prepared to address those challenges./.