Consulting international organizations to develop the Party Central Committee Resolution on responding to climate change, protection of natural resources and environment

29 Jan 2013

Speaker: UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Pratibha Mehta   
Date:       29 January 2013, 08:30 – 12:00
Event:      Consulting International Organizations to develop the Party Central Committee Resolution on Responding to Climate Change, Protection of Natural Resources and Environment
Venue:     Grand Plaza Hotel, Hanoi

Mr Tran Hong Ha, Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment
Ms. Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank's Country Director for Vietnam
Distinguished participants from central and local agencies
Colleagues from the international community;
Ladies and gentlemen;

Let me start by thanking the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for inviting me to address this very important consultation meeting.

The UN commends the Government of Viet Nam for its strong commitment to respond to climate change and to protect natural resources and environment. The Central Committee of the Communist Party has now decided that it will consider a Resolution on these issues, which will strengthen Viet Nam’s commitments to a green economy.

The Socio-Economic Development Strategy 2011–2020 emphasizes the balance between the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development. The draft Party Resolution provides directions for policies and actions towards green growth and sustainable development.

I would like to emphasize three aspects that we believe are critical for the draft Resolution:

  • achievement of Millennium Development Goal 7 on environmental sustainability;
  • climate change related vulnerabilities of people and communities; and
  • development opportunities that are inherent to green growth.

Firstly, Viet Nam has made progress but it is unlikely to achieve all MDG7 targets by 2015. Greater attention should be paid to access to water and sanitation, biodiversity conservation, and greenhouse emissions. Furthermore, Viet Nam’s air pollution is among the ten worst countries in the world.

Economic growth and industrialization have increased pollution and exploitation of natural resources. The economy and the livelihoods of many of the poor are still dependent on land, forests, fisheries and minerals. Inefficient resource use and environmental degradation are barriers to green growth and sustainable development. Investment decisions are also important: the current Power Development Plan will drastically increase Viet Nam’s green house gas emissions from coal-fired power-plants. Whilst caution with hydro-electricity development is needed, other renewable energy sources are promising for long term energy security.

Secondly, Viet Nam is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Climate-related disasters in Viet Nam have caused an average annual loss of USD 1.8 billion, or 1.2 percent of GDP (in PPP), and an average of 457 deaths for the past two decades. Many Vietnamese are vulnerable, especially poor rural and peri-urban people.

Climatic extremes are worsening as a result of climate change, and disasters are barriers to social development. If the average global temperature increases by 2 degrees and sea levels rise by one meter by 2100, the low lying areas will need major protection from floods. And people also face other climate change threats. Climate change adaptation is costly but early investment will pay back in the long run and protect social economic progress.

Thirdly, Viet Nam is joining international efforts to combat the causes of climate change. This is reflected in the national Climate Change Strategy and the Green Growth Strategy with targets on for example greenhouse gas emissions and forestry. Bold and innovative solutions are necessary to achieve such targets.

The solutions should include the use of modern and clean production, transport and construction technologies. Changing behaviours of consumers and businesses is also needed, to improve resource efficiencies, and re-use and recycle waste. This will require upfront investments in capacities, skills and hardware, which is costly. But these investments will help transform the economy and protect the local and global environment.

The solutions should also include fiscal reforms on fossil fuels and environment. Viet Nam indirectly subsidizes fossil fuels and has low environmental taxes. It should shift the fiscal burden and thus stimulate resource efficiencies and cleaner technologies. Model studies suggest that economic growth would rise as a result.

Ladies and gentlemen,
The Party Resolution will be a milestone in reorienting the economy towards green growth. With strong determination and leadership, we expect that the Resolution will help Viet Nam to shift to a more sustainable development model.

Climate change and natural resources and environment are at the top of UN’s agenda. The UN has been privileged to work with Viet Nam on environmental challenges; disaster risk management; clean production; energy efficiency; the REDD mechanism on forestry; etcetera. We will continue to work with our Vietnamese partners for advancement in sustainable development. The UN will bring in international experiences, and will continue to build capacities and support coordination.

I hope you will have fruitful discussions and a productive meeting. I also wish you happiness, peace and success in the New Year of the Water Snake!

Xin Cảm ơn va Chúc mừng Năm Mới!