Workshop on "Promoting the implementation of the National Target Program on Pollution Mitigation and Environmental Improvement for the period 2012 - 2015"

Jan 25, 2013

Speaker: Mr. Bakhodir Burkhanov, UNDP Deputy Country Director
Date:       25 January 2013, 8.20 a.m.
Event:     Workshop on “Promoting the implementation of the National Target Program on Pollution Mitigation and Environmental Improvement for the period 2012-2015”
Venue:    Horizon Hotel, Hanoi

Dr. Bui Cach Tuyen, Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment,
Distinguished participants from central and local agencies,
Colleagues from the international community,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for inviting me to address this important workshop.

The adoption of the “National Target Program on Pollution Mitigation and Environmental Improvement for the period 2012-2015”, in September last year, was a very important step towards achieving a green economy and sustainable development in Viet Nam. I would like to congratulate the Government for taking this important step in addressing environmental challenges. UNDP has had the privilege of helping to lay the foundation for this NTP and will support its implementation, specifically the components on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Other partners have contributed too, and many of them have joined today’s event.

Viet Nam is on track to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals, but greater attention needs to be paid to achieving those targets under MDG7 on environmental sustainability that are currently lagging behind. These include greenhouse gas emissions which are closely correlated with air pollution. Furthermore, rapid industrialization, agricultural and other human activity has caused increasing environmental pollution and natural resources degradation. According to a World Bank estimate, Viet Nam is losing 1.5 to 3% of GDP every year due to pollution; and these losses might rise to 5.5% unless major remedial action takes place.

It should be mentioned that Viet Nam has experienced some of the worst pollution of persistent organic pollutants in the world, especially dioxin, from the herbicides that were used during the war. Surveys have also shown that there are over 1,000 sites in Viet Nam contaminated with agro-pesticides, which is a more recent phenomenon. The Government has made significant strides in dealing with these issues under the framework of the Stockholm Convention on POPs. Persistent organic pollutants are associated with serious and often deadly diseases such as cancer, as well as with birth defects. UNDP commends the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and other relevant Government agencies for significant progress in addressing dioxin-contaminated hotspots in Phu Cat, Da Nang and Bien Hoa airbases, and for expanding cooperation with the international community.

Recognizing the importance of the NTP implementation, I would like to share four points for the consideration of meeting participants:

First, there is a need for clear management guidelines and mechanisms to enable local authorities to access state funding allocated under the NTP for actions at the local level. Additional international support could be used strategically for know-how and technology transfer, capacity development, setting technical standards, and demonstration of clean-up technologies.

Secondly, prevention measures are critical and require joint and concerted effort among stakeholders at central and local levels. Coordinated action can reduce much of the future expenditure. Prevention measures to avoid future contamination cannot be implemented by MONRE alone, and require actions also by the Customs Office of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and local authorities, among other stakeholders.

Thirdly, to achieve the objectives of the NTP, state funding and international support will not be enough. The NTP may need access to resources from the Viet Nam Environmental Protection Fund especially to enable participation and contributions from the private sector. Business participation would underscore the need for transparent mechanisms for allocation of funds.

Finally, it is important to determine cost-effective technologies for treatment of POPs-contaminated soil and sediments, and for proper management of contaminated sites. The partnership between the Government, UNDP and Global Environment Facility (GEF) has made good progress with technology assessments for treatment of dioxin-contaminated soil and sediment in hotspots. It is important to build upon those achievements for acquiring technologies and developing capacities to deal with environmental pollution and waste treatment under the NTP.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Environmental management and implementation of the Stockholm Convention on POPs are key priorities in the UN’s One Plan 2012-2016. The UNDP has been providing support to addressing POPs challenges since 2006, including formulation of the National Implementation Plan for the Stockholm Convention, setting technical standards, technology assessment, and capacity building. We are now mainstreaming social and environmental safeguards in all our development efforts. UNDP is firmly committed to supporting the implementation of this important NTP.

I thank you for your attention and look forward to fruitful discussions today. As we approach the festive Tet season, I also use this opportunity to wish all participants happiness, peace and success in the New Year of the Water Snake!

Xin Cảm Ơn va Chúc mừng Năm Mới Quý Tỵ!