▪    Mr. Vo Tuan Nhan, Vice Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment
▪    H.E. Grete Lochen, Norwegian Ambassador to Viet Nam and Lao PDR
▪    Mr. Christoph Prommersbeger, Charge d'Affairs,  Netherlands Embassy in Viet Nam
▪    Dr. Nguyen Dinh Tho, President, Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment
▪    Colleagues and partners and to all joining us online

A very good afternoon - Xin Chào!

I am delighted to join Vice Minister Vo Tuan Nhan in welcoming you all to this Consultation Workshop on Circular Economy Policies and the Viet Nam Circular Economy Hub.  I would like to thank the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for organizing and hosting this important event.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are living in a health, climate and inequality generated triple emergency! Today our focus is on mostly on the climate crisis but let us not forget the intimate connections across all three crises as we discuss how to address one element of these global challenges.  

The linear economy and our current mode of production is leading to a sharp increase in CO2 emissions and alarming degrees of pollution. The Circular Economy is promoted as an economic model that aims to keep materials, components, and products in use for as long as possible and to effectively restore and manage sustainably natural resources, all of which would simultaneously tackle the cross-cutting challenges I have just mentioned. Recent estimates suggest that the adoption of the Circular Economy principles in five sectors (steel, aluminium, cement, plastic, and food), would reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 9.3 billion tons of CO2e in 2050, equivalent to eliminating all transport emissions globally.

In Viet Nam, the high economic growth of the past two decades based on the linear take-make-waste model has put an increasing pressure on ecosystems and severely depleted natural capital. Our two biggest cities, Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City, are now some of the most polluted in Southeast Asia. The amount of waste generated is increasing by 10-16% every year in the country, according to the Viet Nam Environment Administration.

Partners and Colleagues,

Viet Nam is now at a crossroads. Research based on 2019 data showed that Viet Nam was the only major economy closest to balancing staying within planetary boundaries and meeting the social and economic needs of its people. If Viet Nam continues business as usual it will join the majority of economies in an unsustainable pursuit of higher income status. If Viet Nam chooses the transformative approach called for in a circular economy it may well show the world, once again, how to get it right.
But that was in 2019 and following the economic and social impacts associated with COVID-19, we need to seize the opportunity to build forward better in seeking balance across the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of the SDGs.

Thus, generating now a Circular Economic Rebound, should be seen as part of a longer-term transformation that encompasses building resilience to future shocks and pivoting towards a new inclusive and green economic trajectory. There is an opportunity for Viet Nam to foster sustainable business, incentivise innovation by adopting IR 4.0 technologies, and to help entrepreneurs to leapfrog unsustainable practices, which would help also grow productivity and competitiveness, in order for the country move away from the so-called middle-income trap. A CE transformation will contribute strongly to realizing most of the SDGs even as it is anchored in SDG 12 on responsible Consumption and Production.

Distinguished guests,

The transition towards a Circular Economy will involve transformations in society as well as the economy and we should be clear that we should aim for an inclusive and fair transformation that contributes to the new socio-economic development strategy of Viet Nam.  We need to invest in education programmes geared towards communities, citizens, and the workforce, we need to help SMEs build on traditional sustainable practices while meeting quality standards to gain access to wider domestic and international markets, and we need to mobilise finance to reduce risks and take innovation to scale.

Partners and Colleagues,

I want to commend the efforts undertaken by the Government to embark on this ambitious transformation agenda towards the Circular Economy. The adoption of the definition of CE in the revised Law on Environmental Protection (LEP) marked a cornerstone in including CE principles in policy frameworks. Just last month, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc also highlighted at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly that the 'transition towards a green and circular economy is the priority to achieve the goals of emissions reduction and enhancement of disaster prevention and mitigation'.

The Decree on Implementation of the Law on Environmental Protection 2020 which we will discuss today will lay the groundwork for a comprehensive policy framework on CE, introducing criteria (including simple and measurable indicators and targets), a clear roadmap, and incentives to mobilise and regulate enterprises, industrial zones, cities, producers and consumers for accelerating the adoption of CE.

The CE Roadmap will be a strategic instrument to promote the CE principles across society and in focus areas such as the agriculture, construction, and plastic sectors. The roadmap shall outline a shared vision and a concrete action plan and stay agile and flexible to be relevant to the development characteristics of Vietnam. We also expect the roadmap to be executed with the participation and commitment of all stakeholders here today.

We are delighted to launch today the Viet Nam Circular Economy Hub that aims to enhance dialogue, generate know-how, and mobilise collective action towards the CE transition. It will include a web portal filled with the latest science, practices, and insights from all actors and communities in circular economy policy, research, investment, and education. It will be a platform for training and workshops. It will also connect enterprises and foster partnerships to facilitate the exchange of materials and resources.

I would like to express my great appreciation for the leadership and efforts of the Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment, to the Norwegian Government for their generous financial support and the Embassies of Netherlands and Finland for their technical support, and to all the other partners who are committed to accelerating Circular Economy in Viet Nam.

We believe that only by joining hands in partnership, fostering communication, and facilitating knowledge sharing, will we be able to frame and adopt a narrative around a Circular Economy that is tailored to the needs, the history, and the ambitions of the people of Viet Nam.

I wish you all good health, happiness, and success.

Thank you! Xin cảm ơn!

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