Based on the data from a metabolic analysis, stakeholders convened in Thua Thien Hue Province in Vietnam identified 14 circular economy interventions. For those, their ability to reduce GHG emissions, waste and water use while maintaining jobs and stimulating economic development, was quantified.
Economic development with less environmental impacts
Inspired by the development of national strategies and priorities for the circular economy transition, the Provincial People’s Committee of Thua Thien Hue province sought an evidence base for a provincial action plan. The metabolic analysis aims to provide that evidence.
Three highlights from the report:
- Enhancing circularity in food value chains and construction materials can avoid excessive water use.
- The 2050 GHG abatement potential of 41% is from circular architecture, prioritising food products with a low GHG footprint, resource efficient agriculture and optimising both vehicle utility and transport efficiency.
- It is important to secure just access and strengthen the judiciary to empower the voices which can help avoid that environmental impacts aggravate inequality.
The main material flows
The bar chart below shows that construction materials make up 77% of all material flows when expressed in tonnes. Most of these materials are being used to develop new infrastructure. Other large flows are animal products (and associated flows like manure and emissions from livestock), vegetable products, fossil fuels, chemicals, textiles, wood products and vehicles. These seven product categories together make up more than 97% of the total mass, embodied carbon, water footprint and value in provincial materials flows.
Two consultations were held in Hue city to identify development priorities and interpret the visuals of material flows and their socioeconomic and environmental impact. Throughout these consultations, experts and stakeholders identified 14 promising circular economy opportunities which build on existing initiatives within Thua Thien Hue and best practices from other regions. Figure 2 shows how these interventions support the development ambitions of the province. These impacts would both support and complement the commitments of the Government of Viet Nam as formulated in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) from 2022.
“This study serves as a cornerstone for specialised agencies and provincial leaders to ensure an effective approach for achieving the sustainable development goals of Thua Thien-Hue province.” Dr. Cung Trong Cuong, Director Hue IDS.
The list of circular economy interventions distinguishes between interventions in construction, food and agriculture, transport, waste management, garments and tourism. The last four interventions are enablers, i.e., their impact overlaps with the impacts estimated for the other interventions. Compared to the business-as-usual scenario, by 2030, the interventions have the potential to avoid 16% of GHG emissions and 89% of waste and save 14% of water. The gross regional domestic product could grow by an additional 4.5% on top of existing growth forecasts and increase jobs by an additional 2%. By 2050 the GHG sequestration potential will increase to 41%, mainly due to the increased potential of interventions in the long term.
In the report, the impact of the 14 interventions has been quantified on six dimensions: four environmental, one economic and one social, distinguishing between impacts which take place within Thua Thien Hue and those outside of Thua Thien Hue. The latter relates to reducing the demand for imported goods and materials. The interventions are sorted in a logic which helps avoid double counting of impacts. For example, when electrifying the transport vehicle fleet, it makes sense to first determine how large that
fleet becomes when the utility rate of individual vehicles is optimised and non-motorised transport is deployed to its full potential.
The GHG mitigation potential is estimated for 2030 and 2050. For the two interventions in construction, the mitigation potential in 2050 is significantly larger than in 2030, which is due to the increased GHG mitigation potential of circular design and architecture in the long term. Next to this, the mitigation potential of off-site and modular construction methods increases due to the assumption that the use of woodbased construction materials will increase after 2030. As a result, at 41%, the 2050 provincial GHG reduction potential of the 14 interventions is much higher compared to the estimated total baseline emissions than the 16% in 2030.
Solid waste avoidance is substantial at 89%. This is due to waste reductions from off-site construction and reduced food waste and losses, combined with waste avoidance and waste recovery. Water savings from these interventions are mainly in agriculture, where 49% of water is used. Looking at the socio-economic indicators, fuel savings and improvements to the utility rates of assets can create value in transport, while the recovery of recyclable materials can support value creation in industry and waste management. Job creation is mainly in agriculture, transport and waste management.
The impact of the enablers has also been quantified, but overlaps with the interventions in value chains. For example, circular procurement can accelerate the adoption of circular economy principles in construction, but the impact of that intervention is also quantified under the two interventions in that specific sector. The unique potential that remains when removing sectoral overlap has been quantified in the report as well.
A metabolic analysis to quantify the impact of altering material flows
Viet Nam wants to decouple development from a decrease in the quality of ecosystems and the deterioration of natural resources such as soils, marine environments, fish stocks and forest standing stocks. The identification of circular economy opportunities for Thua Thien Hue Province combines an analysis of material use and flows with an analysis of trends in natural assets and produced stock or manufactured capital. The analysis of stocks sheds light on whether the extraction and disposal of materials have a positive or negative effect on the ability of the country’s natural assets to regenerate and serve future generations. This report refers to that combined review of both flows and stocks as a metabolic analysis. For this report, such an analysis has been completed for 2021, distinguishing 174 flows.
The material flows have been analysed both in material tonnes and in their embodied GHG footprint, water footprint and monetary value. The circular economy interventions proposed will alter materials flows in Thua Thien Hue in the future, which will also change the material, water and GHG footprint of the province. Since the material flows include imports and exports, the impact of the interventions on cross-border flows and upstream or downstream impacts could also be estimated. Changes in the value of the flows were used to estimate the impact on the gross regional product (GRP) and the number of jobs which the provincial economy can support. Qualitative impacts for all interventions have been defined along the 169 targets under the Sustainable Development Goals.
This project would not have been possible with the guidance and generous contribution from UNDP and Norad.
UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working
with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet. Learn more at undp.org or follow at @UNDP.
The Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge
Funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Viet Nam, the Ending Plastic Pollution Innovation Challenge (EPPIC) is a five-year project aiming to contribute to the reduction of plastic pollution in the coastal areas of Viet Nam, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Lao PDR