Mr. Vo Tuan Nhan, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment;

Mr. Ngo Van Cuong, Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee;

Distinguished guests,

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Viet Nam, I am honoured to join you virtually today at the launching ceremony of Clean Up the World 2021 campaign. More than 25 million people from 190 countries have participated in this meaningful campaign, this year on 18 September.

As we speak, around the world, more than one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute. Up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are thrown away every year. Waste generation is increasing at an unprecedented pace, and is projected to triple over the next 15 years.

According to the World Health Organization, 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. Air pollution alone is the fourth leading risk factor for premature deaths worldwide, and costs the global economy around 225 billion USD a year.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a clear example of ecological imbalance, and a reminder of the importance of keeping the balance between socio-economic development and environmental protection: living in harmony with nature.

Viet Nam is facing several serious environmental issues, such as air pollution, water pollution, soil degradation, plastic waste, ecosystem and biodiversity loss, and genetic erosion. These concerning problems, in addition to increasing disasters and climate change, are posing a gradually greater challenge to Viet Nam’s rapid and sustainable socio-economic development.

Ladies and gentlemen,

UNDP Viet Nam has been working with the Vietnamese government, businesses, and communities to promote environmental protection, better respond to climate change and disasters, and promote sustainable consumption and a greener and cleaner lifestyle.

UNDP has worked closely with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, other ministries and agencies, and the private sector to promote the application of circular economy principles in Viet Nam, which includes building and introducing a Viet Nam Circular Economy Hub, and to implement the 2020 Law on Environmental Protection.

In line with the spirit of the Clean Up the World 2021 campaign, UNDP is supporting many provinces and cities in Viet Nam – such as Quang Ninh, Thua Thien–Hue, Da Nang, Binh Thuan, Binh Dinh, and Binh Duong – to improve their domestic waste and plastic management, promote recycling, and reduce the use of single-use plastic items.

UNDP is also working with the Youth Union Central Committee, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Italian Embassy, and the UK Embassy to promote innovation and increase youth engagement and contributions to climate change-related activities. Two prominent young leaders have been selected to represent Vietnamese youth at the International Youth Conference on Climate Change, taking place this year in Milan, Italy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

On this occasion, I would like to quote UN Secretary General Mr. Antonio Guterres’ message on plastic waste: if present trends continue, by 2050 our oceans will have more plastic than fish. The message is simple: reject single-use plastic. Refuse what you can’t reuse. Such small actions will spread far and contribute to greater results, like an economy with low waste generation, low carbon emissions, and more sustainable production and consumption. Together, we can chart a path to a cleaner, greener world.

It is very meaningful for Viet Nam to take part in the Clean Up the World campaign, which helps to raise awareness and change the behaviour of people towards protecting nature and the environment and building a greener, cleaner, and sustainably developed Viet Nam.

UNDP will continue its commitment to support the Vietnamese government, the Ho Chi Minh Youth Union Central Committee, the private sector, and all people in your mission to protect the environment and keep our planet clean and peaceful.

Thank you, and I wish the campaign great success!

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