Vietnam has recognised the importance of environmentally-friendly lifestyles in achieving its goal of sustainable development for a number of years, yet continues to face challenges in increasing green consumption.

There has been a global shift in consumption behaviours towards a greener lifestyle in which consumers purchase environmentally friendly products that do not negatively affect human health or threaten natural ecosystems.

The socio-economic development strategy of Vietnam between 2011 and 2020 stressed the urgent need to change consumption patterns towards sustainability to protect and improve environment quality and actively address climate change.

The country has also adopted a national strategy for green growth for the period from 2011 to 2020 with a vision to 2050, which encourages the development of clean production to enhance the efficient use of natural resources while reducing emission and pollution as well as a civilised, harmonious and naturally-friendly culture in consumption. The strategy forms a strong legal foundation for related state policies and campaign and action plans at the local level.

Ho Chi Minh City is an example of successfully organising annual green consumption campaigns since 2010. Over the past four years, the city has attracted over 30,000 volunteers and 3.7 million local residents to take part in its campaign. Green product sales rose by 40-60 percent during the campaign months.

Since the per capita GDP of Vietnam has increased from 699.5 USD in 2005 to 1,960 USD in 2014, there has been an increasing demand in the country for green products that meet safety standards with environmentally friendly features.

Yet plenty of challenges remain, including non-green government procurement of goods and services. The government has not created policies to encourage the purchase of recyclable or environmentally friendly products for its own uses.

Additionally, most local businesses prefer old-fashioned and energy-intensive machines and technologies for their low cost despite the fact that they have negative impacts on environment.

Others challenges include the overuse of coal, oil and gasoline rather than green sources of energy, such as solar energy, wind power and biogas, and the popularity of extravagant lifestyles which promote the purchasing of imported luxurious commodities.

Experts urged the Government to build a legal framework on green consumption along with incentives for makers and providers of green products and services. More communications and promotion campaigns should be organised to improve consumers’ awareness and help them build good buying habits.-VNA