Speech at Conference "Responding to Climate Change in Agriculture & Rural Development in Viet Nam: Achievements, Challenges and Opportunities

Sep 10, 2013

Speaker: Ms. Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator
Date      : 10 September 2013, 08:30 – 13:00
Event    : Conference "Responding to Climate Change in Agriculture & Rural Development in Viet Nam: Achievements, Challenges and Opportunities
Venue   : Melia hotel, 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Ha Noi

Your Excellency, Mr Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development;
Distinguished representatives of Ministries and Provinces;
Representatives of development partners and the media;
Ladies and gentlemen:

Let me start by thanking the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for organizing this very important policy forum.

The UN commends the Minister and the entire Agriculture and Rural Development sector for steady progress and achievements over the past years. Despite the global economic downturn and domestic macro-economic challenges, the sector continues to grow. Viet Nam is a major exporter of rice and several other commodities; and rural incomes are rising overall.

The Ministry has initiated concrete actions to respond to climate change recognizing the potential impacts of climate change on agriculture and rural development as well as contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. An overall Climate Change Action Plan was adopted by MARD in 2008, and other policies and plans have been formulated and implementation has started. Today we will hear about the progress of these policies and action plans as well as challenges encountered thus far.

Seventy percent of the Vietnamese population is dependent on  Agriculture and Rural Development initiatives. The effects of climate change concern agriculture in particular. Many Vietnamese are vulnerable to climatic extremes and stresses, especially poor rural and peri-urban residents. Moreover, emissions from crop cultivation, forest degradation as well as livestock are principal contributors to global warming. It is highly commendable that Viet Nam plans to control these emissions even though the country’s emission levels are still limited by international comparison.
 To plan for the coming years, I would like to make four suggestions for our consideration today:
First of all, Viet Nam is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change, and the National Climate Change Strategy rightly prioritises climate change adaptation. However, there is a need to formulate concrete frameworks and adaptation plans that are well prioritised and time bound in sub-sectors and regions. The effort of MARD and MONRE to develop a master plan on water management and climate change adaptation for the Mekong Delta supported by the Netherlands is an excellent example of what is needed. MARD is well placed to lead on climate change adaptation as priority action on adaptation action  must be in the subsectors  water management and disaster risk management, crop cultivation and aquaculture.

Secondly, MARD has embarked on an important programme to reduce emissions by 20 percent in 2020, which can be further elaborated for implementation. Research shows that most emissions reduction potential is in the forestry, crop cultivation and livestock sub-sectors. But benefits will only happen if farmers will see tangible benefits from changing technologies and practices. The UN, together with other partners is supporting climate-smart agriculture for greater resilience to the effects of climate change as well as reducing emissions. Similarly, the forestry sub-sector should address both emissions mitigation and adaptation and it is critical to ensure that Viet Nam is soon ready to benefit from the REDD+ mechanism, Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. The UN-REDD Viet Nam Phase II Programme funded by Norway is a key opportunity to embark on an ambitious capacity building agenda.

Thirdly, a national climate finance architecture is crucial for mobilizing and managing both international and national finance, including contributions from the private sector. International climate finance requires transparency, and national systems must meet international management standards for enabling direct access by national entities, including NGOs and business. It is encouraging that the Viet Nam Administration of Forestry has started to formulate a Fund Mechanism for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, that is, a REDD+ Fund.

Fourthly, institutional capacity and human resources are critical to addressing climate change challenges. Staff at all levels should have opportunities to acquire the latest knowledge and expertise of how to address climate change effects.  It is also critical to further strengthen the Climate Change Office to extend its expertise and to enable integration of climate change into sectoral strategies and action plans.

Ladies and gentlemen:
The UN system in Viet Nam is very pleased to be part of the MARD efforts to respond to climate change. The UN has worked closely with the Ministry on the formulation of MARD’s Climate Change Action Plan, REDD+, Disaster Risk Reduction plans and policies, and we are piloting climate-smart agriculture. We will continue to join forces with other development partners to address climate change challenges in Viet Nam.

I wish you all good health and a productive forum!