/EINPresswire.com/ Washington, D.C. – June 2, 2010. The Maryland-Asia Environmental Partnership (MD-AEP), Washington Laboratories and Whiteford, Taylor & Preston led a highly successful trade and training mission to Vietnam during May 24-28. The three organizers founded the Vietnam Environmental Forum (VNEF), whose mission is to provide sustainable solutions for Vietnam’s environment and climate change challenges.

The focus of the mission was a series of five different environmental business events attended by over 450 business, government and academic leaders.
The events, held in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, were co-organized by the VNEF with the U.S. Embassy and Vietnamese government through the Vietnam Administration for Seas and Islands from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and the Directorate for Standards and Quality from the Ministry of Science and Technology and also in collaboration with the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

Vietnam’s rapid double digit industrial growth over the past 10 years has negatively impacted its environment and there is an increasing sentiment to address the country’s pollution and its water, energy and climate change needs. The World Bank estimates that Vietnam needs $2.5 billion per year to deal with environmental pollution because of its rapid industrialization. There is a growing awareness within the population regarding the imbalance of its ecosystems caused by a lack of environmental stewardship as both public health and economic interests, particularly in agriculture and fisheries, are at stake.

As Vietnam continues its emergence as an “Asian Tiger,” mission organizers felt that the timing was very good for the initiative as the country is reviewing sustainable options that will help it leap ahead and not make the same costly environmental mistakes as the developed world and its neighbors.

The mission organizers hosted a U.S. Embassy briefing for the delegation, two business matchmaking forums with the local Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a private reception at U.S. Ambassador Michael W. Michalak’s residence to kick off the week. This was followed by two environment and climate change forums on May 25 in Hanoi and May 27 in Ho Chi Minh City. The Ambassador welcomed the group and highlighted the importance of establishing public-private partnerships for addressing the environment and climate change needs in Vietnam. Ambassador Michalak highlighted the fact that this year marked the 15-year anniversary of U.S.-Vietnam engagement and the ever-improving commercial relationship between our two countries.

A U.S. team of 15 corporate and university leaders were part of a U.S.-led delegation. “The Vietnamese corporations who presented us with their needs and questions have legitimate issues to resolve and are sincerely interested in having the strength and capacity’s of the trade delegation companies work with them to clean and protect the environment in the country,” said Ted Gattino, Partner, Bluewing Environmental Technologies.

The U.S. delegation members participated in the private matchmaking events and also spoke at each of the forums. They included executives from the Maryland-Asia Environmental Partnership, Washington Laboratories, Insight Engineering, AmericanTCB, I.M. Systems Group, Columbia Analytical Services, Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, LLP, Galileo Investment Group, Bluewing Environmental Technologies, WECK Laboratories, the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Environmental Research and the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “I can tell you that these firms represent a great wealth of technology solutions and scientific applications across the whole spectrum of environmental challenges and climate change,” said Ambassador Michalak.

Attending U.S. companies were pleased with the outcomes. “Through your mission, I have learned that the Vietnamese are a warm, resilient group with a long history and I am determined to be associated with them and to learn from them,” said Anthony Vaz, President of Insight Engineering. “This mission was a necessary and vital key to bringing unique individuals together to make a difference while building trust,” he said.

As a result of the forum, mission organizers have been asked to come back and host a second event in Vietnam in 2011. Additionally, opportunities are being explored by delegation members to develop exchanges for laboratory testing and food safety between the two countries. “We see great opportunities to provide Vietnam with a knowledge-sharing hub on environmental lessons learned, technologies and models of how other countries have address similar problems with affordable solutions,” said Peter Gourlay, President of the Maryland-Asia Environmental Partnership and U.S. Chairman of the VNEF.

“We are committed to Vietnam, and see last week’s forums as an opening engagement in helping the country achieve its sustainable economic development goals,” he said. “This is a step in the process,” said Michael Violette, Principal of the VNEF. “We seek long-term cooperation and bi-lateral benefit for both the U.S. and our Vietnamese partners.”