Opening Remarks on the International Biodiversity Day

22 May 2013

Speaker: UNDP Country Director, Ms. Louise Chamberlain
Date:       Wednesday, 22 May
Event:      International Biodiversity Day
Venue:     Botanical Garden, 2 Ngoc Ha, Hanoi

Your Excellency, Mr. Bùi Cách Tuyến, Vice Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
Mr. Trần Anh Tuấn, Deputy Secretary of Hanoi Youth Union,
Distinguished Government representatives
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning!

What a delight and what an appropriate place to celebrate the International Day for Biodiversity, here in the beautiful Botanical Gardens of Ha Noi. This year’s theme of “Water and Biodiversity” couldn’t be more important to stress the interdependence of the two resources.

Water underpins the health of our ecosystem, and therefore biodiversity. As ecosystems regulate the availability of water, as well as its quality, conservation and restoration are vital activities to ensure water security.

Put simply, water is life.  It underpins our human well-being, including the security of our food, drinking water and sanitation, as well as most of our economic activities. For this reason, the World Economic Forum 2013 Global Risks report ranked water supply crisis second only to major systemic financial failure.

Biodiversity is vital for sustainable development. Yet we are witnessing an alarming rate of biodiversity loss, with species disappearing 100 times faster than the natural rate. Such dramatic declines were a major reason why in 2010, the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity agreed on a Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, and set the Aichi Targets as the basis for halting and eventually reversing the loss of biodiversity of the planet by 2020.

Being one of the ten most bio-diverse countries in the world, Viet Nam has made major efforts to conserve biodiversity, including developing the necessary policies. For examples, the Government introduced the Biodiversity Law in 2008 and implemented the 5 million hectare “reforestation” programme. These initiatives have brought about some very positive achievements. The forest coverage has increased from 27 percent in 1990 to nearly 40 percent in 2012 and some endangered and threatened species are even beginning to recover.

However, in spite of this, Viet Nam’s biodiversity is still under stress and even declining. This is due to illegal and unsustainable exploitation, land use changes, and environmental pollution. Climate change increases the risks to biodiversity even further. As of today, nearly 900 species are threatened, and at risk of extinction, and at least 10 have already disappeared from Viet Nam such as the Javan rhino and the spotted deer. If the current trend of biodiversity loss continues, Viet Nam will face difficulties in achieving its development targets.

There are now less than 1,000 days to achieve the MDGs and less than 3,000 days to achieve the Aichi targets. To achieve both, Viet Nam will need to speed up implementation of its policies, and focus on a number of concrete actions. I would like to high four priorities for your consideration.
Firstly we need to overcome the challenges of fragmented roles and responsibilities. Although the roles of stakeholders are clearly defined in the Biodiversity Law, working together remains a big challenge.

The new National Action Plan on Biodiversity by 2020 and Orientations towards 2030 provides a key opportunity to enhance institutional capacity and cooperation.

Secondly, sustainable financing is vital for biodiversity conservation and protected areas management. The new Party Resolution on Environment and Climate Change has confirmed a gradual increase of budget for this issue.. It is a step in the right direction.

Nevertheless, even with this commitment, state budget allocation and international support for biodiversity conservation will not be enough. The government will need cohesive and transparent policies to attract the private sector investments and other contributions. UNDP has been working with MONRE and MARD to find options for a sustainable financing mechanism for a Protected Areas system in Viet Nam and we look forward to supporting in further development.

Thirdly, the active engagement of local communities in conservation is vital to maximize effectiveness and socio-economic benefits. Ba Vi National Park is an outstanding example of biodiversity protection and benefit sharing. Communities are encouraged to use their traditional knowledge to sustainably harvest and commercialize more than 50 medicinal plants species. Institutionalizing policies and practices to further promote such models will be very important.

Fourthly, the active participation of young people is vital if we are to develop long term solutions. They are both actors and advocates for the importance of biodiversity conservation, and the fair and equitable share of benefits. They are best placed to adopt and promote environmentally friendly lifestyles, including saving water and energy, as well as the sustainable use of natural products, with help to save our planet.

Ladies and gentlemen,
We are very pleased to be part of the celebration of the International Biodiversity Day along with other activities such as the photo and logo contest, and a forum on innovations.

Biodiversity conservation and protected areas development is one of the top priorities of the UN in Viet Nam. We will continue to share international experiences and work closely with you to ensure a more sustainable and equitable future for all Vietnamese people.

I wish you a happy Biological Diversity Day!
Xin chân thành cám ơn!