Environment Conference focuses on government priorities and aid coordination
Ha Noi - New National Environmental Strategy and Action Plan, and better aid-coordination in the environment sector are the main topics of discussion at a joint government-donor conference on environment in Ha Noi on April 5-6.
The conference was organised by the Ministry of Sciences, Technology and Environment (MoSTE), with the support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Participants are representatives of all ministries active in environment sector, as well as multi-lateral and bilateral donors nd NGOs working in Viet Nam.
During the conference, the participants exchanged views on the Government's priorities for action and the need for improved donor assistance in the sector. They also made recommendations on how to improve the coordination in mobilising, managing and evaluating official development assistance (ODA) to the sector.
"While this conference is just one event, it is part of a larger and longer process of building partnerships in the environment sector," said Mr Edouard A. Wattez, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.
"This conference is a next step in reviewing two critical elements to the success of the environment sector Viet Nam: the first is the National Environmental Strategy and Action Plan for the years to come, and the second is how we can go a step farther on environmental aid co-ordination.
"This Strategy and Action Plan will be Government and donors' road map for the environment sector in the coming years. There is a danger, however, that despite a good road map for the environment, no one will be able to fully agree on who should drive the car to the destination," said Mr Wattez, saying that one organisation responsible for overall co-ordination in respective sectors was a possible solution.
"There is also a need to set priorities. The draft Environmental Action Plan spells out 23 programmes for the next five-year cycle. These programmes indeed identify the key environmental issues facing Viet Nam, but for donors, we believe it would be helpful to have a list of the top priorities to better focus ODA," Mr Wattez added.
He also stressed on the need for better aid co-ordination and suggested that the Study on Aid to the Environment Sector in Viet Nam could be used as a starting point for the participants to discuss for concrete recommendations. The study was commissioned by the Ministry of Planning and Investment and UNDP, implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, and jointly funded by UNDP and the Swiss, Danish, Dutch, Swedish and Canadian Governments.
In Viet Nam, the flora and fauna of the Indo-Malayan and Palearctic realms overlap and is home to four new-to-science large mammal discoveries since 1992. It is the original home of rice, oranges and tea, and it has several primates and a number of birds that are found only in Viet Nam.
To better manage its extraordinary natural resources, the Government of Viet Nam in 1991 published the first ten-year National Strategy for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development. This strategy laid the foundation for the Biodiversity Action Plan written in 1993 and the National Environmental Action Plan for the 1995-2000 period.
The current Strategy has been a catalyst for generating ODA for the environment sector in Viet Nam. According to the recently published UNDP Compendium of Environmental Projects, since 1995 environmental ODA has increased six-fold, with US$1.4 billion in ongoing environmental projects as of mid 1999. Most of this ODA is targeted at natural resource management (55%) and urban and industrial planning (32%).
Both the current National Strategy and Action Plan will end this year. The National Environmental Agency, under MoSTE, has taken the lead role in drafting the new National Strategy for the 2001-2010 period and the Action Plan for the 2001-2005. Recommendations at the conference will feed into the updated versions of these new reports.