-          Excellency Mr. Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development;

-          Excellency Mr. Hoàng Vĩnh Bảo, Vice Minister of Information and Communications

-          Excellency Mr. Kung Phoak, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN;

-          Distinguished representatives of ministries and provinces;

-          Colleagues from development partners, UN agencies, and the media;

-          Ladies and gentlemen,

A very good morning and xin chào.

It is my pleasure to address you at this morning’s gathering to celebrate the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction and the ASEAN Day for Disaster Management, and to recognize the great contribution of the media to disaster management in Viet Nam.

I am happy to speak at this important event in my dual capacities as the Standing Chair of the UN Results Group on Climate Change, Environment, and Disaster Risk Reduction, and as the UNDP Resident Representative in Viet Nam. The UNCT and UNDP are committed to taking an integrated approach to supporting Viet Nam in disaster risk management.

The year 2020 has turned out to be one of the most challenging years that the planet has faced in terms of increasing risk, such as the global COVID-19 pandemic, extreme heat waves, and in terms of widening development challenges, including inequality and poverty.

Viet Nam has been among the top 10 countries most affected by natural disasters and extreme weather events over the past 20 years. Extreme weather events have become a “new normal” in Viet Nam. In the past, the Mekong Delta was always troubled by too much water, but in recent years the Mekong Delta, the South-Central coast, and the Central Highland regions have been facing increasing drought and saltwater intrusion.

Viet Nam is projected to suffer an economic loss of between 2.5-4% of its annual GDP due to disasters and climate change.

I would like to commend the Government and people of Viet Nam for your great progress and achievements in disaster risk management and your response to climate change, resulting in a significant reduction of fatalities. Setting a global example is not new to Viet Nam, as we have seen in Viet Nam’s success with the pandemic so far.

Within 2020, Viet Nam approved the revised Law on Disaster Risk Management and submitted the updated NDC to the UNFCCC. This reaffirmation of your dedication to sustainable development is heartening to us all.

Viet Nam has made active contributions to important regional and global agreements, such as the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. UNDP is presently supporting VNDMA to access the possibility of Viet Nam joining the Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Insurance Facility (SEADRIF).

Ladies and gentlemen,

In order to achieve success, climate and disaster risk management requires contribution and dedication from all stakeholders, from the government level all the way down to communities.

As a top priority, we need to focus on the most vulnerable communities and groups, especially in remote and isolated areas. These people usually live in hazard-prone areas, such as coastal zones, the Mekong Delta, and the Central Highlands, where people are now simultaneously facing the double impacts of drought and COVID-19.

To support local communities, UNDP have adopted an integrated approach to support, which includes building typhoon- and flood-resilient housing, planting and regenerating mangroves in coastal areas, and providing essential climate information and skills. So far, more than 3,000 resilient houses have been built, more than 3,200 ha of mangroves have been regenerated, and over 32,000 people have gained access to climate information.

UNDP is proud that our 600 supported resilient houses in Hue have withstood multiple hazards very well, including Storm #6 and the floods over the past few days, and have successfully protected people and their possessions. This has been made possible thanks to co-financing from the Government’s Resilient Housing Programme #48, financial support from the Green Climate Fund, and strong cooperation with the Ministry of Construction and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

With the financial support of Japan, UNDP has also provided about 2,000 domestic water tanks and 2,500 sets of personal protective equipment to help vulnerable people cope with drought and COVID-19.

Secondly, risk needs to be addressed systematically and in a holistic manner. Innovative tools and mechanisms, such as risk transfer mechanisms, including climate and disaster insurance, will need to be introduced to reduce the financial and economic burden on public funds. On that note, I am pleased to announce that Viet Nam will be one of the key partner countries for a new global UNDP project which will work with the government and insurance industry partners to develop and introduce innovative risk transfer and disaster insurance products for a number of key sectors.

Finally, the media plays a critically important role in disaster prevention. Before, during, and after a disaster event, they provide vital information for leaders to make timely decisions and for people to respond promptly.

For this reason, I am glad to see the great success of the 1st Press Awards co-organized by UNDP, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Information and Communication. We received almost 900 submissions from more than 120 news agencies at all levels, which I think really speaks to both the overwhelming national interest in this important topic and the dedication of Vietnamese journalists in helping to disseminate information for communities to learn how to protect themselves from disaster.

Local task forces also play a critically important role in disaster risk management. They provide support to vulnerable people during the disaster, are often the first responders in a disaster event, and help to raise awareness of millions through creative media messaging. Therefore, increasing the capacity of the task force is essential. I am delighted with the success of this first-ever competition, which has helped to improve the knowledge of local task forces in 21 provinces.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In closing, we truly look forward to deepening our partnership with the Government, development partners, the private sector, CSOs, and communities to promote disaster risk governance and build resilience in Viet Nam. UNDP, together with our UN sister agencies, stands ready to deepen our partnership with the Government of Viet Nam to realize a resilient, disaster-proofed future where No One is Left Behind.

I wish Viet Nam a more robust recovery from the combined impacts of COVID-19 and natural disasters, and a fruitful national party congress in 2021!

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

Thank you, xin cảm ơn!

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