Mr. Nguyen Van Tai, Director General of Viet Nam Environment Administration,
Distinguished guests, partners, colleagues and friends;

A very good morning and xin chào!

I am very pleased to be here at the inception of the Project “Mainstreaming Natural Resource Management and Biodiversity Conservation Objectives into Socio-Economic Development Planning and Management of Biosphere Reserve in Viet Nam”.

I would like to thank the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, participating agencies from the MONRE and other partner ministries, for their contributions to the formulation of this project.

Ladies and gentlemen

Today, we are launching the project “Mainstreaming Natural Resource Management and Biodiversity Conservation Objectives into Socio-Economic Development Planning and Management of Biosphere Reserve in Viet Nam” in the context of the current typhoon disasters in the Central region of Viet Nam amidst the ongoing but mostly controlled COVID019 pandemic in our country. These devastating circumstances further highlight the importance of pursuing and strengthening management approaches that are in full harmony with nature.

UNDP is proud to have provided support to the Government of Viet Nam over the past decades in many aspects; including environment, natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and disaster risk management and response to climate change. Particularly, various approaches have been piloted and rolled out to support sustainable management of natural resources through the engagement of local communities, such as co-management measures and mechanisms.

Nevertheless, the large-scale implementation of these mechanisms remains limited, and the posing threat of the increasing pressures to natural resources remain, threatening the sustainability of livelihoods of millions of people.

Ladies and Gentlemen

As we know, Vietnam is ranked 16th among the most biodiverse countries on Earth and is one of the ten richest centers of biodiversity in the planet.  In an effort to maintain this rich natural endowment, and to help reverse the degradation trend of biodiversity loss, over the last few decades the government of Vietnam has been establishing a network of protected areas (PAs) operational nationwide, with thus far 164 terrestrial national parks (NPs) and nature reserves (NRs), and five marine PAs.

However, most PAs in Vietnam are located in areas of high poverty and it is a great challenge to achieve the often-conflicting objectives of conservation and development. The government sought to remedy this through a benefit sharing, co-management policy between park/reserve authorities and local communities, which involves protection of natural resources while allowing some sustainable harvesting of the forest and marine products.

Biosphere Reserves offer the promise of broadening the current approach to PA management for biodiversity conservation and benefit-sharing by taking into account the broader socio-economic context in which the PAs are situated. Biosphere Reserves comprise this management approach, supported internationally by UNESCO under the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MaB), which was launched globally in 1971.

In Viet Nam, after the first BR site recognition of the Can Gio Mangrove forest in 2000, the latest designation was the Langbian Biosphere Reserve in Lam Dong province, in 2015. Currently the network of 9 BRs in Viet Nam covers an area of more than 4.1 million hectares of land and water, or about 12.1% of country’s area, home to more than 2.3 million people.

Despite its promising roles to promote integrated management approaches however, there is no consistent governance structure, clear legal mandate, or adequate resources in place to provide full support for BRs.

BR management in Vietnam is facing a lack of legal framework, hence inadequately facilitates for multisectoral coordination within one province, and more so interprovincial cooperation for effective management of BRs at sites located in multiple provinces.

The governance structure of BR management varies in different provinces.

This undermines the consistent role of BR Management Boards to mainstream conservation and biodiversity safeguards into the landscape, forest and seascape planning and management, and into key economic and productive sectors to shift to more sustainable and equitable development.

Further, the lack of a clear role of management at the BR scale, and the unclear mandate in planning and budgeting undermines the position of the BR Management Boards in the planning and policy making process at the subnational level.

Within the context of this governance and management situation, we are glad to launch this important project today, especially during this period when the Government of Viet Nam is planning to undertake the revision of several major Laws and policies, such as the Law on Biodiversity; the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for post-2020 period, and the implementation of the new Law on Planning at the provincial level. This offers potential avenues for such integration, legalization, and institutionalization to address the above-mentioned challenges.

The Biosphere Reserve project that we launch today will contribute to address present barriers through the implementation of inter-related and mutually complementary project outcomes which consist of regulatory and institutional framework; Integrated multi sector and multi-stakeholder planning and management operationalization; and Knowledge management.

UNDP is proud to have worked closely with the Government and other stakeholders to make a meaningful contribution to Viet Nam’s achievement of global targets through introduction and implementation of policy frameworks, such as the National Biodiversity Strategic and Action Plan (NBSAP), the Law on Forestry, the Law on Environmental Protection; and the deployment of conservation measures at local sites.

On this special occasion, I would like to call for further immediate actions that promote jointly coordinated biodiversity conservation efforts from various line ministries, especially MONRE, MARD, participating provinces, the private sector, non-government organizations, communities, and individuals.

UNDP is committed to continue working with all of you to protect Viet Nam’s rich biodiversity endowment, and bring this crucial project into a good and successful end!

I wish you all good health, happiness, and success. / Xin cảm ơn!

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