Speech at MARD ceremony

15 Jun 2012

Speaker: Setsuko Yamazaki, UNDP Country Director     
Date:       15 June 2012
Event:      MARD ceremony in response to International Day for Biological Diversity, World Environment Day, and the World Day to Combat Desertification
Venue:    MARD office

Dr. Nguyen Ba Ngai, Deputy Director General of Vietnam Administration of Forestry, MARD;
Colleagues and friends;
Ladies and gentlemen;

It is an honour to be here with you today to celebrate three important days of the year: the International Day of Biological Diversity, the World Environment Day and the World Day to Combat Desertification. These days in May and June come at an important global juncture as world leaders are gathering in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio+20 as it is also known next week.

At the Rio summit, delegates will discuss progress made since the first landmark conference on environment and development in 1992, 20 years ago. They will aim to define pathways to a safer, more equitable, greener and more prosperous world for all of us; pathways to a world that we want in 20 years.

Part of the discussions will focus on ways to protect the world’s biodiversity. Biodiversity plays an important role in many economic sectors, such as forestry, agriculture, tourism and industry. A rich biodiversity also provides a foundation for the livelihoods and well-being of some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities, especially those in remote areas and who depend on natural resources.

Viet Nam is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world. However, if the current trend of biodiversity loss continues, Viet Nam will face difficulties in ensuring sustainable outputs from agriculture and fisheries – outputs that are needed to meet Viet Nam’s development targets.

The theme of “Marine Biodiversity” for this year’s International Day of Biological Diversity recognizes the importance of marine biodiversity and rich coastal ecosystems. For a country with such a long coastline as Viet Nam, marine and coastal ecosystems are extremely important for social and economic development.

This year’s World Environment Day focuses on a “Green Economy”. A green economy touches on almost every aspect of our lives. Green growth is about promoting sustainable energy, creating green jobs and green policies and ensuring resource efficiency. I would like to commend Viet Nam for the work it has put into developing its green growth strategy. The strategy stresses the need for low-carbon development, green production, restoring of natural assets and green lifestyles. These are all essential elements in promoting and furthering sustainable development.

Finally, the World Day to Combat Desertification will be celebrated on 17 June, under the slogan “Healthy soil sustains your life: let's go land-degradation neutral". Forestation and tree generation is one of the effective ways to combat desertification. Viet Nam has made good progress in this area, for example by expanding forest cover from 27 percent in 1990 to almost 40 percent in 2011.

Viet Nam is also pioneering implementation of a REDD programme – which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. This will also help to combat land degradation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thereby helping to mitigate climate change.

I am therefore very pleased that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has developed a national REDD+ Action Plan to 2020. Implementing this plan will help contribute to achieving the 20 percent reduction target included in MARD’s programme on greenhouse gas emissions reduction in the agriculture and rural development sector. The UN has been and will continue to work closely with the government on REDD issues in the coming years.

All these issues will be discussed at the Rio+20 conference. The conference is a unique opportunity to move away from business as usual and act to strengthen global commitments to sustainable development. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to agree on how to build a green economy and to achieve a sustainable future for all. Working together, we can secure the future we want.

We wish you every success in your activities to celebrate all these important days!

Thank you.