Date: 12 Oct 2019
Event: Launching Ceremony of the 1st National Press Award on Disaster Risk Reduction 2019
Speaker: Ms. Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Viet Nam

Vice-Minister Nguyen Hoang Hiep – Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development
Vice-Chairman Tran Quang Hoai – Central Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control
Distinguished Members of the Central Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control
Distinguished representatives of ministries, provinces, development partners and media agencies.
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my honor to speak at this Launching Ceremony for the First National Press Award for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control. This is a promising initiative we have jointly committed to do in celebration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction in 2019.

At the outset, I would like to congratulate Vice-minister Hiep and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on the establishment of the DRR Partnership, with the participation of 18 international members. The signing of partnership frameworks today clearly shows the commitment to cooperation for disaster management in Viet Nam.

And UNDP is happy to be part of the partnership, being a Standing Member and the Chair of the technical working group on private sector engagement. A recent landscape assessment of the private sector roles in disaster management, led by UNDP in cooperation with VnDMA and VCCI, indicates that: (1) the private sector needs improved access to information, incentives and coordination with the government to help improve disaster risk planning; and that (2) small and medium-sized businesses lack effective government support systems after disasters. In this connection, we would like to cooperate with VnDMA and international partners to further explore opportunities to enhance participation and contribution of the businesses and the private sector to early warnings, investments, business continuity planning, and disaster risk reduction.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As we all know, Viet Nam is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Annually, floods, typhoons and other natural disasters cause death and hold back essential economic growth. Damage and losses are estimated at $1 billion per year. Unfortunately, disasters are becoming more frequent and intense due to the impacts of climate change.

Vulnerable communities and groups – mainly ethnic minorities, poor women and children, especially in remote areas, are most affected. Those vulnerable live in the hazard-prone areas and therefore often suffer from repeated and sometimes simultaneous shocks to their families, houses and livelihoods. They lack both the resources to recover from damages, and information and knowledge to better prepare for disasters.  

In cooperation with VnDMA, UNDP has developed technical guidelines for post-disaster needs assessments and trained 150 staff and officers from national level institutions and provincial agencies on these new guidelines. We enhanced understanding and access to climate risks information for more than 28,773 people. We also built more than 2,000 new resilient houses and repaired 5,000 houses for the poor, near-poor and women-headed households in seven coastal provinces of Thanh Hoa, Quang Nam, Quang Binh, Quang Ngai, Thua Thien Hue, Khanh Hoa, and Phu Yen.

On this important occasion, I would like to offer the following points for your consideration moving forward:

    Firstly, disaster risk communication is very crucial for improving public knowledge, attitude and practices for risk reduction: In this regard, the press has a central role in sharing early warning information; disseminating good practices and lessons learnt; and advocacy for initiatives that help vulnerable communities better prepare for disasters. I would like to congratulate VnDMA for the partnership with Facebook to promote real-time and interactive information sharing through its dedicated Facebook Fanpage.
    Secondly, building a national disaster database including climate risk profiles should be high on the agenda: Viet Nam needs more actions on development of an cross-sectoral information system; collection of high-quality data; tailoring data generation to the use of end-users such as provincial planners, private sector investors and farmers; and use of innovative apps for disaster impact projection. A good disaster database will inevitably enable effective decision-making in all key sectors, helping to promote resilience building in the country.
    Thirdly, disasters risk reduction, preparedness and response are essential, but disaster recovery and rehabilitation are equally important: Viet Nam has been focusing on disaster risk reduction through its notable national community-based disaster risk management program. Viet Nam has also efficient support mechanisms for disaster affected households. However, more work is necessary to strengthen recovery systems and policies. UNDP stands by VnDMA in its actions to develop a dedicated decree for disaster recovery and to integrate build-back-better approach into relevant guidelines.

UNDP looks forward to deepening our partnership with the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development, Ministry of Information and Communication, Viet Nam Journalist Association, Viet Nam Television, Viet Nam National Radio, and media agencies in this Press Award and in all disaster risk management actions. I am confident that working together, our joint efforts will contribute to a greener, more resilient and prosperous country, where no one is left behind.    

Thank you. Xin Cam On!

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