Assessing Viet Nam's Road to Sustainable Development

06 Jun 2002

Ha Noi - Representatives of Government agencies, international community and civil society meet today to evaluate Viet Nam's progress in implementing sustainable development. This national conference is part of Viet Nam's preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September this year.

In Rio de Janeiro ten years ago, Viet Nam and 179 other participating countries committed themselves to achieve sustainable development: development that incorporates economic growth with social equity and environmental protection. Today's national conference will assess the current status of sustainable development in Viet Nam and progress since Rio.

This two-day conference is organized by the Ministry of Sciences, Technology and Environment (MOSTE) and the National Environment Agency, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

"Unfortunately the heat and light generated from Rio's Earth Summit failed to result in sufficient concrete action both globally and nationally", said UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Jordan Ryan.

Viet Nam has recorded many successes in terms of economic growth and poverty reduction. Also the downward trend in forest cover has been reversed, thanks to the Five-million Reforestation Programme. Forest coverage increased from 27% in 1990 to 33.2% in 2000. Furthermore there are now over 100 areas designated as protected parks.

"But the challenges to sustainability are great," said Mr Ryan. "There's a widening gap between rich and poor, urban and rural people. Population growth and urbanisation constrain Viet Nam's ability to protect the environment. Forest quality continues to decline. There are 700 species on the endangered list. Pollution levels regularly top acceptable limits, and dust alone in urban areas is at least double maximum standards."

Mr Ryan called for better cooperation within and between ministries as well as with the private sector and civil groups to work together for a better environment and increased awareness on sustainable development issues. He urged that the media be a watchdog to ensure no tolerance for those who violate or fail to enforce environmental laws.

A National Strategy for Sustainable Development, also known as Viet Nam Agenda 21, is being formulated by the Government, with the support of UNDP and the Government of Denmark. A draft of Viet Nam Agenda 21 has been shared among relevant Government agencies and donors at a seminar held in Ha Noi on 5 June.

Contact Information

Ms Nguyen Viet Lan, Public Information Assistant
Tel: 942 1495; Fax: 942 2267