Economic growth must be pursued in harmony with social progress and fairness while natural resources must be tapped in an environmentally-friendly way, delegates agreed at a national workshop in Ho Chi Minh City on January 2 on Mekong Delta sustainable development.

Scholars from research institutes and universities nationwide said the regional economy should be restructured with a focus on green industries and hi-tech farming.

Associate Professor, Dr. Vo Van Sen, Rector of HCM City University of Social Science and Humanities pointed to the paradox that while the Mekong Delta is the country’s largest supplier of rice, aquatic products and fruit, the region has the worst infrastructure and local people have the lowest educational level and poorest living conditions.

Associate Professor, Dr. Nguyen Van Tiep from the National University of Social Sciences and Humanities (USSH) stressed the need to ramp up rural infrastructure, particularly the waterway system to fully exploit the region’s numerous rivers and canals.

Dr. Thai Thi Thu Huong from the National University- HCM City said overexploitation has resulted in serious pollution of land in the delta. She also noted that the region is being hard hit by climate change, citing various research results that show the entire delta as well as two thirds of HCM City will be submerged under water if the sea level rises by 1 metre.

Therefore, experts stressed that the exploitation of natural resources must go hand in hand with preservation and regeneration to ensure sustainable development.

At the same time, participants advocated the development of human resources, focusing on poverty reduction, health care system, a comprehensive overhaul of education and training, and curtailment of bureaucracy, corruption and wastefulness.

The Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam is where the Mekong River flows into the country and empties into the sea through a network of tributaries.

As the country’s largest delta with a total area of over 39,700, the region is home to 13 cities and provinces. It is a strategically key area in terms of socio-economic development on a national scale.-VNA