Speech at the GEF National Dialogue Workshop

Oct 5, 2006

Speaker: Mr. John Hendra, United Nations Resident Coordinator
Date:       Ha Noi, 05 October 2006
Event:     GEF National Dialogue Workshop
Dr. Pham Khoi Nguyen, Senior Vice Minister of Natural Resources & Environment and Chairman of GEF Viet Nam
Ms. Funke Oywole of the GEF Secretariat
My colleagues from the World Bank, UNEP and UNDP
Distinguished representatives from the various Ministries, National Agencies, Provinces, and NGOs
Friends and Colleagues,  
It is very much my privilege as UN Resident Coordinator to also welcome everyone here this morning and to have this opportunity to give a few brief remarks on behalf of the United Nations at today’s GEF National Dialogue Workshop. At this outset, I would like to congratulate the Government, especially the GEF Viet Nam Office and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, for all of the hard work and planning that went into this important forum.  
We are indeed fortunate to have with us today colleagues from all around the world representing the GEF National Dialogue Initiative, the GEF Secretariat, UNEP, World Bank, and UNDP.
As you are aware, the objective of the GEF National Dialogue Initiative is to strengthen country ownership and involvement in GEF co-financed activities by actively engaging many different stake-holders. In this context, we have a unique opportunity over the coming days to listen to each other, to share knowledge and experience on the GEF, to specifically learn about GEF4 and its various new elements and to develop a dynamic national GEF portfolio for the protection of the environment in Viet Nam. I am really happy to see this morning so many key stakeholders representing international, national and local interests in sustainable development.  
GEF and UN Reform
“The GEF’s three Implementing Agencies, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank have demonstrated that collaboration within the United Nations system can be effective, bridging their complementary strengths, and expertise."  
These are not my words, but those of the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan – back in 1998 during the Opening Ceremony of the First Assembly of the GEF in New Delhi, India. This innovation, collaboration and desire to work together are pillars of the GEF Programme and something that everyone in this room should be proud to be a part of. It demonstrates that government counterparts and UN Agencies can work well together towards a common goal, in this case, to support projects related to biodiversity, climate change, protection of international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.  
In Viet Nam, the GEF Executing Agencies, which now also include UNIDO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), are now all supporting the development of key GEF initiatives, while the Food and Agriculture Organization is set to provide technical assistance to a World Bank-GEF project on animal waste.
Importantly, in the context of UN reform globally as well as in Viet Nam, UN agencies will be collaborating even more closely. This will lead to greater harmonisation between UN agencies in Viet Nam to improve our effectiveness to better support the country. This will include UN agencies involved in GEF, who are set to strengthen their collaboration to develop programmatic approaches in close collaboration with the Government.
In terms of Partnership, I am especially pleased with the collaboration over the past months between GEF-Viet Nam, and the World Bank and UNDP in support of the formulation of the National Action Plan for GEF. This good collaboration has resulted in a draft National Action Plan, which will be presented and discussed at this Workshop.
While developing the GEF portfolio is still about project development, increasingly GEF now encourages programmatic partnerships. As I understand it, going forward, GEF will increasingly focus on supporting existing programmes and will maximize the opportunity for gathering donors and different Ministries, Departments and localities around common, shared and concrete goals. We strongly support this shift to a more programmatic approach, which is very much in line with the Ha Noi Core Statement on Aid Effectiveness.
Improved collaboration between national agencies, donors and UN Agencies is especially possible with strong national leadership - which we are indeed very fortunate to have in Vice Minister Nguyen, the overall GEF focal point.
The Government’s Action Plan  
As I also understand, the Government’s Drafting Team has attempted to both make the Action Plan fully consistent with national priorities and to ensure it helps further align GEF strategies of UN agencies with Government’s priorities. Fully integrating environmental concerns – and GEF support – into the Socio-Economic Development Plan and other instruments is indeed a key priority and I hope this National Dialogue will help facilitate the Action Plan to be more fully aligned to national priorities, again in the spirit of the Paris Declaration and the Ha Noi Core Statement.
It is especially important for Viet Nam that its GEF Action Plan is very focused in terms of themes and key stakeholders, both in order to ensure GEF funds are used strategically and as the Resource Allocation Framework shows that resources are limited.
Aligning with national strategies and plans
Real alignment with national strategies and plans will mean that GEF projects will be driven by goals that are fully compatible with the Government’s targets, and therefore national resource allocation. This means that Government projections and actual allocations will be presented alongside GEF financed goals and activities, as parallel financing. This is already happening, and could happen on a larger scale, which would greatly support the overall GEF portfolio development.
As Vietnam rapidly develops – and as we see in our daily lives - we are all linked through our natural environment and we will need global partnerships like the GEF to ensure that we meet the great challenges before us in the coming decade, including achieving the Millennium Development Goal 7 on environmental sustainability for both current and future generations here in Viet Nam.
I am sure that over the next few days, a great deal of knowledge, experience and lessons learned in mobilizing GEF resources and managing a successful GEF programmes will be discussed. This workshop is a great opportunity for us to listen, to learn – and increase our awareness about Viet Nam’s environmental challenges and how a reformed GEF can best play its part. I wish you a very successful three days of learning and sharing.
Thank you for your attention.

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