Opening remarks at the workshop on Multi-Dimensional Poverty in Nha Trang

Jun 15, 2013

Speaker: Mr. Bakhodir Burkhanov,UNDP Deputy Country Director
Date:    15 June 2013
Event:   workshop on Multi-Dimensional Poverty in Nha Trang

Mr. Nguyễn Trọng Đàm, Vice-Minister of MOLISA
Mr. Đỗ Mạnh Hùng, Vice-Chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Social Affairs
Representatives from ministries and Government agencies
Development partners and UN colleagues
Ladies and gentlemen:

At the outset, I would like to thank Vice-Minister Đàm, Vice-Chairman Hùng, colleagues from MOLISA and the NA Committee for Social Affairs for organizing today’s workshop. My thanks also go to other partners such as the Irish Aid for supporting this important engagement.

The discussion on multi-dimensional poverty is very timely. Viet Nam is now a Middle-Income Country facing new challenges of reform and transition. Its economy is getting more complex and acquiring new facets. Society is changing too; Vietnamese people’s development aspirations have become more diverse and their expectations are rising. Viet Nam has done remarkably well in its human development path since 1990s, but sustaining and enlarging this progress requires more nuanced policies backed by quality analysis, research and data. Mr. Đàm has articulated the importance of evidence-based policy-making very well in his statement.

During the recent grassroots consultations on post-2015 development agenda in Viet Nam, stakeholder groups spoke of their particular challenges and aspirations. But we also heard several common themes, including the need for participation; a more equal society; quality employment and stable jobs; universal access to affordable health care; and quality education and vocational training.

Such expectations are not unique to Viet Nam. Policy-makers all over the world are looking for ways to renovate traditional growth models; to move upwards in the value chain; and at the same time to ensure that growth is equitable, sustainable and resilient to economic and other shocks. Mr. Hùng’s remarks this morning showed that Vietnamese legislators were equally concerned with these issues.

Countries, notably those who reached middle income status, are examining the changing nature of poverty and the challenges it poses, including regional disparities, income insufficiencies as well as deprivations of access to social services, employment opportunities, social participation and protection, among others.

It is against this background that many middle-income countries such as Mexico, Malaysia, Brazil, Colombia and China have begun to apply multi-dimensional poverty concept and approaches to poverty monitoring, policy design and implementation. Some of these experiences and lessons will be shared at our workshop. These lessons can be very useful for Viet Nam as a new MIC, as it searches for new and innovative ways of capturing and addressing the changing character of poverty.

The multi-dimensional poverty is not a completely new concept in Viet Nam. Our UNICEF colleagues first introduced it in the country for measuring child poverty as early as in 2008. Recently the application of this concept for measuring poverty has been broadened to all groups of the population through UNDP’s 2011 Viet Nam Human Development Report at the national level, as well as UNDP’s work at provincial level including the Urban Poverty Report for Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City.

It is encouraging to see that these efforts, coupled with policy advocacy and studying from international experiences, have started bearing fruit. The value of multi-dimensional poverty measurement and policy-making is increasingly recognized by Vietnamese researchers and decision-makers.

This recognition is evident in government policy discussions and events such as the explanatory session of the National Assembly Committee on Social Affairs in December 2012, the Prime Minister’s remarks on HCMC’s poverty reduction work in December 2012, the National Poverty Reduction Steering Committee and MOLISA’s plans for the implementation of the NTP-SPR and Resolution 80, the proposed master plan on developing multi-dimensional poverty measurements, and the Government’s upcoming report to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the 2013 High-Level Segment this July.

Our workshop today has gathered participants from ministries and local levels as well as international partners to build on this momentum and to agree on a roadmap towards adaptation and application of the multi-dimensional poverty concept and approaches in Viet Nam.

I believe that the strong commitment and enthusiasm of national partners from MOLISA, National Assembly, ministries, agencies, provinces and research institutes supported by the United Nations, World Bank, Irish Aid, Oxfam and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), to name a few, will take this work to the next level.

I have talked about experiences of middle income countries, many of whom describe the task of eradicating poverty as “challenge of the last mile”. We hope that multi-dimensional approach provides a fresh perspective to understanding that challenge, and informs poverty measurement, policy design and implementation together with other existing tools.

I look forward to a stimulating discussion and wish all workshop participants good health, success and happiness.

Xin cảm ơn!