Speech at the 2nd national forum on disaster risk reduction & climate change adaptation

Mar 4, 2011

Speaker: UNDP Country Director, Ms. Setsuko Yamazaki
Date:      Friday, 4th March 2011
Event:    2nd national forum on disaster risk reduction & climate change adaptation

Your Excellency, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai;
Your Excellency, Minister Cao Duc Phat;
Your Excellency, Vice Minister Tran Hong Ha;
Chairmen of People’s Committees of Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh and Can Tho Cities;
Your Excellency Mdm. Loren Legarda, Senator of 15th Congress of the Philippines;
Mr. Mark Palu, Counselor of AusAid in Vietnam;
Mr. German Velasquez, Regional Coordinator of UNISDR and UNISDR delegation;
Colleagues from the donor and non-government organization communities;
Distinguished representatives, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to congratulate the government on organizing this important event – the 2nd National Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction & Climate Change and the Launch of the World Disaster Reduction Campaign.

The Government of Viet Nam and Vietnamese people have a long history of dealing with disasters. The Government founded the Central Committee for Flood and Strom Control (CCFSC) in 1955 and more recently has developed a number of important policies and programmes to respond to natural disasters and climate change.

Climate change is undoubtedly affecting the nation in many ways, and natural hazards have been increasing both in terms of their frequency and strength. Viet Nam suffered significant human and material losses last year alone, and annually loses more than 1 percent of GDP due to natural disasters. The majority of poor people and other vulnerable groups are living in areas that are frequently affected by floods and storms.

Natural disasters can easily set back development gains, growth, and the MDG progress that Viet Nam has achieved over the last decades.   With the increasing frequency and intensity of climate change, it is strategic to invest in climate-proofing and disaster-proofing more proactively as part of development strategy. The damage and losses could be substantially reduced by integrating risk reduction into planning.   Viet Nam has actively participated in a number of important global mechanisms for disaster risk reduction under the Hyogo Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and for climate change adaptation under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Over the 10-year period between 1999 and 2009, Viet Nam gained significant experience in running the Natural Disaster Mitigation Partnership (NDM-Partnership), which saw multi-stakeholder participation among ministries, donors and non-government stakeholders at national and sub-national levels. Under the UN initiative delivering as one, we have a Program Coordination Group on Natural Disaster and Emergencies (PCG-NDE), co-chaired by the UN and the Government. There is an increasing need for a more formal framework that enables more effective policy dialogue, information exchange, priority setting, learning and overall coordination to support the decision-making bodies of the Government in all aspects of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are all fully aware that we will face challenges in ensuring the successful operation of this Platform. The initiative also calls for greater coherence between ministerial and sector-based plans for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

At this forum, I would like to highlight three main areas for your consideration:

First of all, the government should formally establish this National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in Viet Nam. The Platform should become an umbrella framework with various specific working groups, for example, a coordination group for the implementation of the CBDRM programme.

Secondly, it is essential to forge stronger participation and contribution from business, mass organizations and non-government organizations. These stakeholders have been playing significant role in poverty reduction, disaster aftermath reconstruction and building the social protection.

Finally, Viet Nam continued and deepened commitments towards sustainable development is being threatened by climate change and natural disasters. The magnitude of the threat is very significant and need to be fully taken into account in the implementation of the next five year Socio-Economic Development Plan (2011-2015) and reflected in the forthcoming a National Strategy on Green Economic Development.

In the coming sessions of this important national forum, I firmly believe that we will have fruitful exchanges regarding our ongoing experiences and efforts to formulate the National Platform. We will also have the opportunity to learn from other countries in the region, and we are very pleased to have Senator Loren Legarda from The Philippines here today to share lessons from the Philippine’s experience in formulating disaster risk reduction and climate change policies and platforms. This is a unique opportunity to collect and consolidate the various perspectives and opinions from national and provincial government leaders, as well as from the UN, donor, non-government and academic communities.

I wish you all a very productive and successful forum.
Thank you!