Speech at launch of the project “Building capacity to eliminate Persistent Organic Pollutant pesticide stockpiles in Viet Nam”

05 Apr 2010

Speaker: Mr. Christophe Bahuet, UNDP Deputy Country Director
Date:       5 April 2010
Event:     Launch of the project “Building capacity to eliminate Persistent Organic Pollutant pesticide stockpiles in Viet Nam”

Mr. Bui Cach Tuyen, General Director of the Viet Nam Environment Administration;
Mr. Andrew Speedy, Resident Representative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization;
Distinguished delegates, friends;

I am honoured to deliver this statement on behalf of UNDP and FAO. On behalf of those two agencies, I would like to express deep appreciation to the Government of Viet Nam, and particularly the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) for all their efforts to prepare the project ("Building Capacity to Eliminate POP Pesticide Stockpiles in Viet Nam”) that have been approved and for which financial resources have been successfully mobilized from the Global Environment Facility. 

Back in 2006 when we started working with MONRE to develop the national implementation plan for the Stockholm Convention on POP we realized how the use of pesticides, particularly Persistent Organic Pollutants pesticides, was a serious problem in Viet Nam. There are hundreds of pesticide stockpiles which contain POPs, and in addition there are tons of them that are smuggled into the country every year. These pesticides are releasing toxic substances to the environment, contaminating air and water, and food, causing great harm to people and resulting in health diseases and fatality. Their harmful effects are long lasting and they threaten the health of people for several generations.

For the UN, tackling POPs is therefore clearly and directly part of our commitment to help Viet Nam achieve sustainable, human development. It is part of our cooperation with Viet Nam for the country to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and their related targets, in this instance those particularly related to environment and health. 

We also regard the project that is being launched today as part of the actions that the Government of Viet Nam takes to fulfill its commitment to the Stockholm Convention, which Vietnam ratified in 2002. This is an additional reason for the United Nations to support Viet Nam in this area as it is an important mission of the UN to promote the ratification and implementation of international conventions, and work with member states for that purpose.

For all those reasons the United Nations with UNDP and FAO in Viet Nam is delighted to work with the Government of Viet Nam and support this project. As an implementing agency of the Global Environmental Facility, UNDP will bring in best management practices and lesson learnt to help Viet Nam build the necessary capacity to handle POP pesticide matter. FAO is the specialized agency that will help develop technical and management guidelines for the treatment of contaminated sites, destruction procedures, and provide training for the national institutions and government agencies to handle POP stockpiles. FAO will bring experience and expertise from its global programme to clean up obsolete pesticides, prevent future toxic threats and protect human health and the environment.

To implement this project successfully, I would like to share some thoughts on important aspects which require attention by the project and its stakeholders. These are:

  • Risk management is one of the important aspects in dealing with POP pesticide stockpiles to ensure success of the POP treatment undertaken and avoid risk of secondary pollution.
  • For that two-fold objective to be achieved, strict management and technical procedures must be in place and be matched by adequate human capacity and resources. Capacity development is therefore a crucial component of the project, one on which all parties must concentrate their efforts.
  • Multi-agency cooperation is essential to deal with violations against POP regulations and legislation, including smuggling. The project capacity development therefore aims at being of benefit to many agencies such as the custom office and the environmental police, as well as communities, in particular farmers. Cross-border cooperation between Vietnamese authorities and counterparts in neighboring countries is also a condition to effectively fight POP smuggling.
  • Continuous strengthening of regulatory and policy frameworks to deal with hazardous substances is critical to ensure the impact and sustainability of the efforts undertaken.

Very soon, UNDP and the Government will launch another initiative to address the issue of one of the most serious POPs in Viet Nam: dioxin. It is clear that the United Nations and the Government are very strongly committed to concretely work together on POP issues. As the UN, and particularly UNDP and FAO under the project being launched today, we therefore look forward to a strong and close cooperation with MONRE and other stakeholders. We hope this project will be efficiently implemented and successful for the benefit of the environment in Viet Nam, and the well being of the Vietnamese people.

I wish today’s workshop success, and I wish you all health and happiness.
Thank you