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[HANOI] The Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology has proposed that Asian and European countries form a committee to coordinate collaboration on scientific research projects and promote exchange of technologies and expertise.

The proposal was made at the 'clean technologies' conference held in Hanoi, Vietnam, earlier this month. The conference was jointly organised by the academy and the European Commission under the auspices of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), a periodic summit that aims to strengthen political, economic and social ties between the two regions.

The committee would be created by ASEM members and would guide all issues of science and technology cooperation and exchange.

Several scientists at the conference welcomed the proposal, and the possibility that it would push forward current efforts to promote 'clean technologies' — ways of reducing pollution and the amounts of energy and raw materials used in industrial processes.

"Clean technologies are a top concern, especially in developing countries," says Nguyen The Dong, who heads the Vietnamese academy's Environment and Technology Institute. "They should be put on the top of the committee's agenda as soon as it is established."

"Some economic sectors in Vietnam such as fisheries, paper, textiles, chemicals and mining have applied clean technologies for six to seven years, and had considerable achievements," said Dong.

Such technologies have brought savings in electricity and water, and sharp reductions in environmental pollution caused by industrial waste, Dong told SciDev.Net. He said, however, that Vietnam still lacks information, management experience, technical experts and funds to apply clean technology to all sectors.

"In particular, the business community needs greater awareness of the applications of clean technology," he added.

Chu Tri Thang, head of the Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology's international relations and cooperation department, says the committee would identify mutually beneficial research projects for joint implementation between the two continents, and that funding would be sought from the European Commission.

More than 150 scientists and business people from the 39 ASEM member countries attended the conference.

Technologies discussed at the meeting include ways of reducing pollution and energy inefficiency in mining and mineral processing, improving use of renewable materials, and clean processing of industrial effluents and other waste.