Opening Remarks at Introducing National Strategy on Biodiversity and Consultation of draft National Biodiversity Master Planning.

24 Sep 2013

Speakers: Ms. Louise Chamberlain, UNDP Country Director                 
Date:        Tuesday, 24 September
Time:        8:30-10:00
Event:       Introducing National Strategy on Biodiversity and Consultation of draft National Biodiversity Master Planning
Venue:      Trade Union Hotel, 14 Tran Binh Trong street, Hanoi

Mr. Bùi Cách Tuyến, Vice Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
Distinguished Government representatives
Ladies and Gentlemen, Conservation Friends
Good morning!

Let me start by congratulating the government and MONRE for launching a new National Strategy on Biodiversity and Action Plan, covering extremely relevant aspects of biodiversity and development issues. The Strategy is important for conservation efforts to help halting the loss of species and bring some endangered and threatened species to recover. Importantly, the strategy also sets out relatively new and expanded objectives to conserve important natural ecosystems such as marine and wetlands, and preserve the mangrove forests, sea grass beds, and coral reefs. This will address earlier identified gaps in protected areas system development.

The strategy comes at an important time as Viet Nam’s biodiversity is under stress and declining. We are witnessing an alarming rate of biodiversity loss, with species disappearing much faster than the natural rate. This is due to illegal and unsustainable exploitation, land use changes, deforestation, ecosystem degradation, environmental pollution, and climate change that increase the risks to  biodiversity. Comprehensive proactive measures and vigorous enforcement, mobilizing broad sections of Viet Nam’s local government and rural society, will be required to combat such practices and overcome negative impacts.

In order to effectively enforce the implement of the strategy, Viet Nam will need to focus on priority, concrete actions. Without commenting on the choices between competing areas of conservation, I would like to make four general suggestions regarding the action plan, for your consideration.

Firstly, the new National Strategy provides a key opportunity to enhance institutional capacity and coordination on biodiversity conservation. Overlapping or parallel organizational mandates have the inherent risk of creating gaps, overlaps, and undermine effective intervention, no matter how good the Action Plan. We believe efforts could be even more coherent and efficient if conservation mandates were consolidated, rather than dispersed across different authorities. We suggest to examine the possibilities and merits of forming a single entity to support conservation efforts. This would require close review by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and MONRE.

Secondly, mobilizing sustainable financing is essential for biodiversity conservation and protected areas management. The Strategy outlines various options for attractive and innovative financial mechanisms, such as payment for ecosystem services, biodiversity offset, carbon credits, and ecotourism. For these options to be activated, clear financial targets for conservation need to be identified in the Action Plan and translated into specific budget lines. To echo some suggestions already tabled, we recommend a not less than 20% of the state budget allocated for environmental administration to be set aside for biodiversity conservation. In fact, spending one-fifth of environment sector budget can be considered government Greenfield investment to support self-sustained financing in the future, if cohesive and transparent policies are also put in place to lay the foundation for private sector investments and other contributions.

Thirdly, finding appropriate institutional mechanisms to harness traditional knowledge and practices is important to further promote the sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity for poverty reduction and sustainable development. Local knowledge on the use of herbal medicines, native species for crops and livestock should be recognized and shared. Importantly, benefits from traditional knowledge and genetic resources need to be shared in a fair and equitable manner, in a way that enhances the income of small scale producers. UNDP will be working with MONRE to promote such benefit sharing mechanisms in the coming year.

Fourthly, we hope that today’s event will help to mobilize support and commitment from all stakeholders in rolling out and implementing this important national Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan that includes clearly quantitative, realistic and achievable targets, supported by a clear monitoring mechanism, and with clear accountabilities. There is a saying in the field of Result Based Management that “What gets measured, gets done”. The community represented here today has demonstrated remarkable effort in documenting and recording Viet Nam’s extraordinary rich biodiversity reserve – now follows a painstaking effort of tracking allocations and actions to ensure its protection and sustainable use. As the Strategy clearly states, this will contribute to poverty reduction and improved living conditions of the Vietnamese people.

Ladies and gentlemen,

UNDP greatly appreciates our cooperation with Viet Nam in developing relevant biodiversity policies, and we acknowledge also the important financial contribution of the Global Environment Facility in this effort. Biodiversity conservation and protected areas development remains one of the top priorities of UN support to Viet Nam. UNDP will continue to share international experiences and best practices, and we will work closely with you to ensure a more sustainable and equitable future for the Vietnamese people.

I wish you good health, happiness and successful discussion on implementation of the new National Strategy on Biodiversity!
 
Xin chân thành cám ơn!
Contact UNDP in Viet Nam
Nguyen Viet Lan, Communications Officer 84 4 3822 4383 ext.121
nguyen.viet.lan@undp.org
Phan Huong Giang, Communications Officer 84 4 3822 4383 ext.119
phan.huong.giang@undp.org