Speech at the launch of the Viet Nam Green Growth Strategy

29 Oct 2012

Speaker: United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms. Pratibha Mehta
Date:       Monday, 29 October at 8.30 am
Event:      Launch of the Viet Nam Green Growth Strategy
Venue:    Sofitel Plaza, Ha Noi 

Dr. Nguyen The Phuong, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment;
Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Country Director;
Mr. Kim Yin, Head of Mission, the Korea International Cooperation Agency
Mr. Luc De Backer, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Belgium
Distinguished participants from the Government and national agencies;
Colleagues from the international community;
Ladies and gentlemen;

Thank you to the Ministry of Planning and Investment for inviting me to address at this important meeting.

I would like to start by congratulating the Government with the approval of the national Green Growth Strategy. This is a major achievement and Viet Nam is one of the first developing countries in the world to launch such a strategy.

The UN applauds Viet Nam for its commitment to green development and its work towards building a low carbon economy. This is reflected in the National Climate Change Strategy of 2011, and is now spelled out in the Green Growth Strategy.

Importantly, the Strategy sets greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets that are based on studies of sectors with high emissions: such as the energy, forestry and agriculture sectors. The UN is proud to have enabled these studies and the formulation of the Strategy.

The emissions targets in the Green Growth Strategy demonstrate that Viet Nam is joining other middle income developing countries and the world in combating the causes of climate change. Embarking on a low carbon development path will allow Viet Nam to develop new, green industries and products, and to generate opportunities for increased competitiveness and employment generation.

The Strategy has a special focus on improving and managing Viet Nam’s natural resources. The economy is still heavily based on natural capital, such as forestry, fisheries and minerals, and importantly, the livelihoods of many of the rural poor depend on this.

The Green Growth Strategy will also help to protect and enhance Viet Nam’s achievements in ensuring access to energy for all Vietnamese. This is one of the goals set under the UN Secretary-General’s initiative “Sustainable Energy for All”. The other two goals are energy efficiency improvement and an increased share of renewable energy.

The Green Growth Strategy is a crucial step to reorient the economy towards sustainable development. It aims to restructure the economy through efficient use of resources; limiting pollution and promoting the development of green industrial and agricultural production, and low emissions transport and housing.

The adoption of the Green Growth Strategy is an important step along a long road to achieve a green economy, and a “green, clean and beautiful” Viet Nam . It is now important to initiate real actions and implement the Strategy. In this connection, I would like to make four points for your consideration.

First, resource mobilization for the implementation of the Strategy should be a top priority. Viet Nam needs a financial architecture and enabling fiduciary policies in order to mobilize, effectively blend and manage international and national, public and private sector finance for green investments. This should be informed by international experiences and the UN and other development partners should help develop this, and help build up the necessary human resources and coordination systems.

Secondly, the participation of and contributions from the private sector are crucial. Real actions to improve resource use efficiency, development of green industries and renewable energy, and advancement of new technology are being undertaken by businesses. But businesses require predictability of their revenue stream, long-term economic stability, transparency in regulation and a level playing field. A close dialogue with domestic and FDI-sector businesses is needed in order to address the barriers to large-scale green investments by the private sector.

Thirdly, fiscal reform is critical, especially in the energy sector. The Strategy calls for a gradual elimination of indirect and undesirable subsidies on fossil fuels, estimated at one or more percent of total GDP. Such subsidies are the result of price controls and monopolies in energy production and trade. They have a negative effect on the environment, benefit the better off more than the poor, and are incompatible with sustainable development. Removing indirect subsidies will ensure faster growth, better national energy security and will help to create new green jobs. Viet Nam has already started exploring renewable energy in addition to hydroelectricity, and aims to increase the share of this to 4.5 percent of the total electricity production by 2020 . The Government has also started reform of energy prices, combined with measures to protect low-income groups against price rises. However, speedier reform is required to promote the development of renewable energy and improve energy efficiencies, and more effective policies to protect the poor and small and medium enterprises.

Fourthly, it is important to consider and integrate social equality, including gender equality, in the implementation of the Strategy. For example, more realistic energy prices will cause industries with high energy efficiency to thrive. A green growth pathway can have a positive impact on job opportunities for women and disadvantaged groups, if gender and a wider social analysis and supportive policies are part of the reform agenda. This can, for example, be done through targeted training for employment in industries with clean and energy efficient technology.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Successful implementation requires the full participation of all stakeholders, including socio-political organisations and businesses, in planning, management, investment and monitoring of actions to achieve green growth.

Viet Nam has already achieved many of the MDGs ahead of time. With strong leadership and through the implementation of the Green Growth Strategy, Viet Nam can also improve some of the environmental targets, including on energy intensity of the economy, greenhouse gas emissions, water supply and forestry quality. This will serve Viet Nam and will be important for the world to limit the risks of global warming.

Green growth is a top priority in the UN’s One Plan 2012-2016. The UN has been privileged to support Viet Nam already on clean production; energy efficiency of small and medium enterprises; energy efficiency in the steel sector; sustainable forest management through the REDD mechanism (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation); and we have started support on climate smart agriculture. We are mainstreaming social and environmental safeguards in all our development efforts. And we are firmly committed to support implementation of the Green Growth Strategy.

I look forward to fruitful discussions today.

Thank you for your attention.