Photo: UN Viet Nam/ Shutterstock

Ha Noi, 7 August 2017 – A high-level forum on realising economic opportunities from sustainable management of natural forests was held by the Viet Nam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Central Economics Committee, and the United Nations with the support from the UN-REDD Programme and other partners including the Viet Nam Private Sector Forum. The Forum was attended by representatives from the Government ministries, business associations, enterprises, financial institutions, international organizations, and forest owners.

The Forum introduced Viet Nam’s Target Programme for Sustainable Forest Development for the 2016-2020 period, as well as the country’s National Action Programme on Reducing of Green-house Gas Emissions through the reduction of Deforestation and Forest Degradation, Sustainable Management of Forest Resources and Conservation and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks (REDD+) by 2030.

National experts and enterprises presented and discussed their experiences, opportunities, challenges and recommendations for the sustainable management of natural forests, while exploring economic opportunities including ecotourism, medicinal plants and non-timber forest products.

One of the main recommendations coming out of the Forum related to the need to develop market and partnerships for natural forest-based economic models. The financial resources should be mobilized and the revenue / expenditure regulations should be directed to encourage businesses to invest in economic models based on natural forests.
Other recommendations included improving national policies and strengthening the monitoring and evaluation systems at the local and national levels on the economic models and the forest products.

"Forest protection and development is the most important solution that Viet Nam needs and can implement to ensure the sustainable development of the national economy," said Mr. Cao Duc Phat, member of the Party’s Central Committee and Standing Vice-Chairman of the Central Economics Committee. He also emphasized that there must be awareness and active participation from the community and businesses.

Speaking at the forum, Mr. Kamal Malhotra, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam, highlighted: “A major transformation will be required to build an enabling environment for domestic and international businesses to thrive in and benefit from investing in sustainable natural forest development.”

Forests cover about 41 percent of Viet Nam’s national territory. 71 percent are natural forests, and 29 percent are plantations. However, according to experts, the value and contribution of forests to the national economy has not been fully captured by the national accounting system. Indeed, forest contribution as currently accounted in the national GDP is very modest, approximately 1 percent. The country set targets for increasing the value of forest production to about 3.5 per cent per year, and the GDP from forestry from 2 to 3 percent of the national GDP.

Natural forests provide valuable timber and non-timber products, and offer many invaluable services to critical sectors including water and soil protection for agriculture, electricity production, urban consumption and mitigation of climate change by capturing CO2. Natural forests also help increase the resilience of vulnerable rural communities to the dramatic impacts of climate change.

Sharing at the Forum, Sapanapro company said that with their traditional knowledge of herbal medicine, the Red Dao ethnic people were collecting herbal plants and researching herbal products in the Sa Pa town. 73 percent of the households overcame poverty and about 900 ha of watershed forest were monitored and protected. “Forest has provided support to the Red Dao people generation after generation. So it is important to balance people's benefit and protection of the natural forests they live in”, recommended Mr. Nguyen Ba Nhung, Director of the company.

Ms. Siren Gjerme Eriksen, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway expressed that preserving and maintaining the natural forest is key to achieving some of the key sustainable development goals.

A fundamental challenge reflects the market failure consisting in privatizing profits while making the whole society bear the cost of destroying the natural forest. “We will need to fix this problem. We need to look into it sector by sector and make sure that those who use the forest use it sustainably, or pay the bill for the costs generated by their activities”, said Mr. Erik Solheim, UN Environment Executive Director.

The UN-REDD Programme, jointly convened by the UN Development programme (UNDP), UN Environment (UNEP) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has been working closely with the Government of Viet Nam for the development of relevant policies, mechanisms and the overall readiness and action plan for REDD+ implementation.

“The UN will remain an important strategic and committed partner of the Government of Viet Nam to further strengthen the sustainable management of forests in collaboration with the domestic and international business sector to achieve mutual benefits”, Mr. Malhotra expressed.

For more information, please contact:
Mr. Hoang Viet Dung,
Communication Officer
UN-REDD Viet Nam Phase II Programme,

Ms. Phan Huong Giang,
Media and Communications Analyst,
United Nations Development Programme

Ms. Mihaela Secrieru,
Regional Communications and Knowledge Management Specialist for Asia-Pacific, UN-REDD Programme,

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