New Partnership to preserve Viet Nam's Environment

May 9, 2002

Ha Noi - An historic environmental partnership - The International Support Group for Environment (ISGE) - was launched on Thursday 9 May in Ha Noi to preserve Viet Nam's rich and beautiful environment as the country pursues its drive for economic development.

The establishment of ISGE, a partnership between the Government of Viet Nam, the International Donor Community and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO), reflects the shared concern about the urgency of the current environmental situation in Viet Nam.

Eight Government agencies - Ministries of Science, Technology and Environment, Planning and Investment, Finance, Agriculture and Rural Development, Transport and Communication, Construction, Industry, Training and Education- signed the Memorandum of Understanding for the Environment Partnership.

Donors and NGOs include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland, European Commission, World Bank, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, World Wide Fund for Nature, World Conservation Union, Vietnamese Association for the Conservation of Nature and Environment and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

"This new initiative comes not a moment too soon. The active involvement of so many Vietnamese ministries demonstrates the nation's readiness to respond across sectors to environmental concerns", said Jordan Ryan, UNDP Resident Representative. "A multisectoral response is key to promoting sustainable development", he added. It will also strengthen the overall management and monitoring mechanism for sustainable development through integration of socio-economic development and environment policies.

"We are delighted that rapid economic growth has improved the life of the Vietnamese people. But we are worried that short-term economic gains are often made at the expense of natural resources", noted Ryan. 70% of the Viet Nam's population, he said, earns their living by utilizing the natural resources of the country. That is why it is important to take fully into consideration how the environmental, economic and social changes will affect the livelihoods of the Vietnamese, especially the poorest segment.

The Government of Viet Nam has started formulating its national strategy for achieving sustainable development with a special focus on environmental issues over the coming decade. "Our vision is very clear", affirmed Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem in a recent conference. "To eradicate poverty and lift the people's living standards, Viet Nam must grow, industrialize and modernize. But economic, social and environmental needs should be addressed in an integrated manner to be sustainable in the long term".

The new ISGE partnership will seek to improve information sharing among partners and provide a better basis for coordination of all environment projects. One of its first activities will be to create and update a database on all environment projects in Viet Nam and provide a monthly summary of environmental activities in Viet Nam. The partnership will aim to improve the effectiveness of development aid to the environment, as indicated in the National Strategy for Environment Protection as well as the Environmental Action Plan.

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