Speech at the green economy forum, with the National Council for sustainable development

13 Dec 2011

Speaker: Setsuko Yamazaki, UNDP Country Director
Date:       Tuesday, 13 December 2011
Event:      Green economy forum, with the National Council for sustainable development

Your Excellency, Dr. Nguyễn Thiện Nhân, Deputy Prime Minister;
Mr Nguyen The Phuong, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment;
Distinguished members of the National Council for Sustainable Development;
Distinguished participants from central and local agencies;
Excellencies ambassadors and colleagues from the international community;
Ladies and gentlemen;

In just over six months, the Earth Summit on Sustainable Development – or Rio+20 as it is also known – will take place in Brazil. This will be a historic opportunity to define pathways to a safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and more prosperous world for all of us.

The preparation of Viet Nam’s green growth strategy also underway, and so the forum today on a green economy is indeed very timely.  I would like to thank the National Council for Sustainable Development and MPI for giving me the opportunity to address it.

Viet Nam has made important progress on the sustainable development front over the past 20 years. The Strategic Orientation toward Sustainable Development, or Viet Nam Agenda 21, was adopted in 2004. Furthermore,  the Climate Change Strategy was approved two weeks ago, and the Government is developing a green growth strategy of which a  framework has been presented to development partners on November 29. This will provide a sound framework to deal with the impacts of climate change while contributing to global efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The National Council for Sustainable Development and the Government are to be congratulated for these achievements.

At the first Earth Summit in 1992 countries adopted Agenda 21 – a blueprint to advance social equity and to ensure environmental protection. However, the world has changed dramatically since then.

Global warming has underlined the need for the international community to change our dependency on fossil fuels, and as a result greening of the economy has gained momentum. Historically, global warming was caused by fossil fuel consumption in developed nations. Yet the world can only avoid dangerous climate change if developing countries also limit their greenhouse gas emissions growth and after some years start reducing emissions.

It is against this background that the governments of the world, international institutions and representatives of NGOs and businesses, labour unions and various social groups will come together in Rio de Janeiro. Countries will try to agree on smart measures that can reduce poverty while promoting decent and green jobs, clean energy and a more sustainable and fair use of natural resources. Green growth can act as a bridge to the future in which economic progress, sound environmental management, inclusive social development and climate change will all be addressed.

In fact, green growth is a development pathway that can enable Viet Nam to ensure  sustainable development. As a middle-income country, Viet Nam is facing a number of new challenges if it is to maintain economic growth and ensure social equity. It is important that Viet Nam invests in protecting its natural resources, such as forests, to ensure that they deliver ecosystem services. Furthermore, green growth must help improve labour productivity, and raise wages and living standards.

Viet Nam has already taken the first steps in the right direction. For instance, sustainable development has been successfully mainstreamed in Social Economic Development plans, and sustainable development is a guiding principle in the next ten-year Socio-economic Development Strategy.

Viet Nam has experienced nearly two decades of unprecedented growth which has led to remarkable improvements in overall economic and social wellbeing as well as success in achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals, the MDGs. However, to fully achieve all MDGs greater attention needs to be placed on key targets under MDG 7 that are still lagging behind, such as water supply and sanitation and the carbon intensity of growth, that is CO2 emissions per unit GDP.

The National Green Growth Strategy will enable Viet Nam to mobilize public and private financial resources and technology, especially in the context of international climate change agreements. Enhanced international assistance on climate change will help improve energy efficiency, increase the use of renewable energy, and reduce water and air pollution. It will also enable the forest protection and increase agricultural productivity. In addition, Viet Nam will increase opportunities to develop highly qualified human resources, as innovative technologies and research and development are essential for long term sustained green growth..

Ladies and gentlemen,

Viet Nam will need to continue balancing economic goals with social, human and environmental development. Development has to improve the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. The UN in Viet Nam stands ready to assist Viet Nam to improve the quality of growth and achieve a gradual transformation of the economic structure, to protect the environment and to restore natural capital. This is the only way to achieve a sustainable future for all Vietnamese citizens.

In closing, let me quote the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who, when speaking about the upcoming Earth Summit, said that: “Rio+20 will be one of the most important global meetings on sustainable development in our time. At Rio, our vision must be clear: a sustainable green economy that protects the health of the environment while supporting achievement of the Millennium Development Goals through growth in income, decent work and poverty eradication.”

I wish you fruitful discussions.

Xin Cam On va Chuc Suc Khoe!

Thank you