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Experts name urgent matters for Hanoi's planning (Part 1)
Experts address the obstacles the city faces in developing a green and environmentally friendly metropolis in its planning orientation for 2021-2030.

Hanoi authorities are collecting feedback on the city's future urban design and development. Experts and academics spoke to The Hanoi Times about the plan.

The main issues focus on developing cultural industries, green spaces and satellite cities.  

Pham Bich Huyen, Lecturer, Hanoi University of Culture: 

The creative industry, or orange economy, works on human intelligence to create comprehensive value in terms of economy, culture, society, and environment. As the cultural sector emphasizes innovation and humanity, many nations have recognized it as the key to long-term socio-economic prosperity.

This makes the cultural industry an inexhaustible source of strength that has not been fully tapped. Once cultural industry is developed, its potentials will be enhanced at the highest level and it will create the best value for the society. Its effects are not represented by economic figures, but in the quality of life and happiness of people, because it puts people at the center of development.

A night performance at the Thang Long Imperial Citadel recreates traditional activities at the palace. Photo: Pham Hung/The Hanoi Times

Hanoi is full of potential for developing cultural industries, as the city has a history and culture of more than 1,000 years, making it different from other cities worldwide. The people of Hanoi are very creative, artistic and productive, and their qualities bring opportunities for further development of the capital. We need a special mechanism to explore and maximize these qualities to create specific products for the domestic and international markets.

Given the limitless potential of cultural industries, the State can only support some of their efforts. Therefore, we must involve private investors and organizations in the sector through all necessary means, from land use incentives to financial support. In 2018, Colombia issued government bonds to finance creative activities. Their decision helped attract the interest of global entertainment companies, giving a big boost to Colombia's orange economy.

As Hanoi is the first place in Vietnam to develop a resolution dedicated to cultural industries, I hope the capital will soon become the main creative center for Vietnam and the world. Throughout history, Hanoi has assimilated features from other cultures. This mix gives the capital's cultural industries a broader background but also poses challenges for the city. We can harness its strength if we can redirect resources to the creative industries.

Le Quan, Rector, Hanoi University of Architecture

For years, Hanoi has been experiencing rapid urbanization with significant population growth, which poses increasing challenges. In its development, the green belt is one of the key driving factors that can turn Hanoi into a civilized, modern metropolis. But over time, the green belt has been fragmented. If we want to evolve into a green and modern city, we need to preserve the existing green spaces and create new ones in the future.

Water is another asset that the authorities must take care of. Hanoi is a city of lakes and rivers, with West Lake, Hoan Kiem Lake, To Lich River and Nhue River. These small rivers, now reduced to canals, are important for the city's design and can help it preserve and promote ancient cultural values.

The expansion of green spaces requires the whole community and professionals to work with the authorities. City developers must put people and culture at the center of growth. As Hanoi is a thousand-year-old city, we cannot neglect its cultures, which have been preserved and created by the Hanoi people over time. People must be the key to the city's sustainability.

We have witnessed all the shortcomings resulting from the city's growth. We need solutions to deal with rapid urbanization, increasing population, environmental issues, and cultural preservation. We must improve infrastructure to facilitate inner-city transportation and connect the capital with neighboring provinces and cities.

The Hanoi Party Committee, the Hanoi People's Committee and their agencies have called for expert recommendations on the city's development plan, which I hope will receive as much feedback as possible. With social consensus, all plans will be feasible.

Tran Huy Anh, Hanoi Architects Association

In the old days, Hanoi was full of lakes, rivers and canals, and water is an important part of the city's development. We have to treat it as an asset in the right way. It's better to live with water than to fight with it, and we should seek a balance between residential development and water space conservation for sustainable development. All cities around the world are now built on water spaces. In the past 20 years, water bodies in Hanoi have been reclaimed into residential areas. If we can preserve the water spaces, it will benefit the city in the long run.

In particular, the area of green spaces has decreased significantly due to residential development. This time, the formulation of a new urban plan is an opportunity for scientists, experts, and lawmakers to re-examine the situation and recognize that water is more important than land. Right here in the capital, regular real estate projects would be less attractive to buyers without water bodies and green spaces. These should be the foundation and facilitator of Hanoi's sustainable growth.

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