One of the most popular attractions in Vietnam, Ha Long Bay, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 1,600 islands and islets spread over 43,400 hectares, forming a spectacular seascape that attracted 14 million visitors in 2019. According to Vietnamese legend, dragons descended from heaven to defend the Viet people from invaders, spraying fire, emeralds, and jade, which later became the dramatic limestone pillars for which Ha Long Bay is famous.
Although only 40 of these islands are inhabited, nearly 500,000 people live in the three districts around Ha Long Bay. This means the area is greatly affected by land-based pollution, with over 28,000 tonnes of plastic waste generated in the area every year, of which more than 5,000 tonnes end up in the ocean. Despite being directly dependent on the health of Ha Long Bay’s rich ecosystem and biodiversity, the local tourism and fishing industries are also major sources of pollution.
To address this problem, the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme (SGP), which is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has been supporting the Farmers’ Association of Quang Ninh province to mobilize coastal communities around Ha Long Bay to increase the rate of solid waste collection and treatment, while reducing the amount of plastic waste generated by local households. With funding from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and the Quang Ninh Provincial People’s Committee, the project’s focus is on developing a community-based model for integrated domestic waste management. Read the full story here.