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Ha Long-Cat Ba Alliance helps enhance efficiency of heritage management

The Ha Long-Cat Ba Alliance Initiative is one of several important projects helping the Management Board of Ha Long Bay manage the heritage better with a multidimensional and multi-sectoral approach, according to vice chairman of the board Pham Dinh Huynh.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded project has helped connect State management agencies with non-governmental organisations, firms and the community, as well as Quang Ninh province and Hai Phong city in protecting Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Archipelago, Huynh said at a meeting held by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on September 25.

The Ha Long Bay World Heritage Site and Cat Ba Archipelago Biosphere Reserve are two of Vietnam’s most economically and ecologically important areas, renowned for their beauty and biological importance.

The Ha Long – Cat Ba Alliance was established in 2014 to build a partnership between government, business, and community leaders to preserve and protect Ha Long Bay and the Cat Ba Archipelago.

The alliance is implemented by the IUCN and it advocates for the preservation of the area’s biodiversity through a high-level, business-led leadership committee. The committee members are business leaders, local and international non-governmental organisations, political representatives from Quang Ninh province and Hai Phong city, national-level government agencies, and the US government.

These stakeholders set a vision and give guidance on the alliance’s work plan, which includes increasing public awareness of environmental conditions; advancing a green certification standard for overnight cruise companies; improving water quality in Ha Long – Cat Ba; and nominating the Ha Long Bay UNESCO World Heritage Site to expand to include the Cat Ba Archipelago.

The Ha Long – Cat Ba Alliance has partnered with nearly 20 cruise companies, local and international businesses, and civil society organisations. It has leveraged more than 210,000 USD from the private sector to invest in awareness raising and community development activities in Hai Phong city and Quang Ninh province.

Huynh noted that since 2014, the alliance has made efforts to protect the environment in Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Archipelago through the Alliance Leadership Committee.

Over the past five years, the project has focused on improving the quality of water and preserving biodiversity in these regions.

It has mobilised the engagement of businesses in managing solid waste through activities in the “Act for Green Ha Long” campaign. The efforts have been supported by local administration through the issuance of a ban on foam buoys and single-use plastics in Ha Long Bay. Quang Ninh has also asked all passenger vessels to install wastewater treatment systems.

The alliance has assisted Quang Ninh and Hai Phong build a programme to supervise biodiversity through holding training courses and providing technical assistance and equipment, as well as advocating the allocation of local budget for biodiversity supervision.

In the future, if the Ha Long Bay World Natural Heritage is expanded to Cat Ba Archipelago, more management measures will be applied to preserve the biodiversity values of the region, said Huynh.

The administrations of Quang Ninh and Hai Phong will continue cooperating in researching on impacts of tourism to the water quality and wildlife, while reviewing regulations related to plastic waste reduction and improving water quality.

Nguyen Anh Tuan, head of the Office of the Cat Ba Heritage Management Board and Director of the Hai Phong Department of Foreign Affairs said Hai Phong city and Quang Ninh province have worked to finalise dossiers proposing the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizatio (UNESCO) to recognize Ha Long Bay with expansion to Cat Ba Archipelago as a World Natural Heritage Site.