Date:         8.00AM (Monday, 15/6)     
Location:     De Nhat Hotel, No. 18 Hoang Viet, Ward 4, Tan Binh, HCM city     
Event:     DRR Conference with Southern Provinces     

-    Excellency Mr. Nguyen Hoang Hiep, Vice Minister, Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development;
-    Mr. Tran Quang Hoai, Vice Chairman, Central Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control;
-    Excellency Mr Le Thanh Liem, Vice Chairman, People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City
-    Distinguished Members of the Central Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control;  
-    Distinguished representatives of ministries, 21 Southern provinces, and media agencies;
-    Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my honor to speak at this Regional Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in my capacity as Chair of the UN Working Group on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, and UNDP Resident Representative.

At the outset, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Viet Nam for its impressive containment of the COVID-19 pandemic. Viet Nam’s success has been recognized globally as one of the best examples of joint efforts by Government and communities to address a challenge of this magnitude and is being widely shared for replication.

Ladies and gentlemen:
As we all know, Viet Nam is among the countries most affected by natural disasters and climate change. Natural disasters are becoming more frequent and extreme, more difficult to predict and increasingly intensified due to climate change and sea level rise. In addition, other risks, such as health-related pandemics cause compounding affects. Negative impacts of these events may increase if we don’t address root causes of vulnerability. Ongoing recovery efforts provide a crucial opportunity to build resilience of communities and businesses.

Vulnerable communities and groups, including ethnic minorities, women and children, elderly and people with disabilities, especially in remote areas, are disproportionately affected. They lack capacity to prepare for and respond to crises, they lack resources to recover from impacts, and have limited access to necessary information and skills to cope with different types of crises.
The current One UN response efforts are targeted to address unmet needs in close coordination with the Government, and this becomes more important as natural disasters of such intensity could become a new normal. We advocate for critical reviews to identify and address the drivers of risks experienced in communities, including vulnerabilities due to age, economic status, gender, ethnic minority and migrant status.

In the medium term, it is important to think about recovery and rehabilitation actions. As the current drought and saltwater intrusion as well as COVID-19 is impacting the poor and near-poor the most, it will take them a longer time to recover and build back better and differently.

In the longer term, we need to think about how best to improve resilience of the Southern Region against recurring disasters, especially safe water for domestic use. We will need to explore the problem to address drivers of vulnerability, from the lens of water resources management/streamflow modeling, integrated irrigation planning, transformative agriculture and inter-provincial socio-economical planning.

Allow me to take this opportunity to share that UNDP has been providing technical support to the GoVN and vulnerable communities in coping with the impacts of natural disaster, climate change, and Covid-19 in Southern provinces. This includes immediate support in response to the needs assessment for drought with water tanks and mangrove restoration. Following the impact assessment of drought, saltwater intrusion and COVID 19 that we undertook with government, we are pleased to advise that a further 1,300 water tanks and personal protective equipment will be provided to communities in need in 5 provinces.

We are happy to share good news that our new 30 million USD grant from Green Climate Fund for Central Highland and South-Central Coast regions was approved in March to build resilience of vulnerable and small holder farmers to cope with the impacts of drought. We look forward to working closely with government in the joint implementation of this initiative.
On this important occasion, I would like to offer the following key points for your consideration:

Firstly, increasing multiple risks and disasters requires taking an integrated approach to disaster risk management in order to build resilience of communities and the economy. There is a need to adopt an innovative approach bringing together different sectors to address multiple risks.

Secondly, innovative risk transfer mechanisms, including insurance and participation of private sector, is an effective tool to enable vulnerable households and businesses to overcome impacts of disasters. This will also help reduce the financial burden on State budget. We highly encourage the Government to accelerate the introduction of risk transfer mechanisms, including the agriculture insurance already piloted in the country, and strategically engage private sector in disaster risk reduction activities.

Thirdly, the current recovery window provides an opportunity for building forward better; using the opportunity of the multiple crisis to build back infrastructure and systems that are more resilient, green and sustainable.

Finally, there is a need to ensure systematic capacity building for disaster risk management at all levels. Apart from building national level capacities and enhancing risk governance arrangements, the focus should also be at the sub-national level, enhancing preparedness capabilities of provinces, districts and communities. The Community-Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) Program implemented by Government for the period of 2009-2020 is a good example of a capacity building intervention targeting most vulnerable communities.

The UN family look forward to deepening our partnership with the Central Committee, MARD, Provincial authorities, and communities. I am confident that working together, our joint efforts will contribute to a more resilient and prosperous Viet Nam, where no one is left behind.

I wish you a successful conference.
Thank you. Xin Cam On!

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