United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has supported Việt Nam in substantial achievements in poverty reduction and socio-economic development in the last two decades, at the same time in addressing new challenges that Việt Nam is currently facing, particularly environmental pollution and climate change. To understand more about achievements in environmental protection and recommendations for environmental protection in Việt Nam in the upcoming time, journalist of the Environment Magazine had an interview with Mr. Đào Xuân Lai - UNDP’s Assistant Country Director.
|Mr. Đào Xuân Lai - UNDP’s Assistant
How do you assess the efforts of Việt Nam in environmental management in the past few years and can you suggest some recommendations on environmental protection of Việt Nam to achieve higher outcomes?
Mr. Đào Xuân Lai: In the past few years, the Party and the Government have finalized the legal framework and strategic policies on environmental protection, climate change response such as Resolution No. 24-NQ/TW (2013) by the Party Central Committee Tenure XI on proactive response to climate change, enhancing natural resources management and environmental protection, Law on Environmental Protection (2014), Law on Water Resources (2012), Law on Minerals (2010), Law on Biodiversity (2008), and two National strategies on Climate change and Green growth, which are typical achievements.
Environmental protection has been paid more attention by different levels, sectors, organisations and individuals. Important advances have been achieved in organisational structure and capacities for environmental management, particularly the establishment of the National Committee on Climate Change in 2012; the capacity on management, research, implementation monitoring by staff at central and local level has increased noticeably; many staff have become competent experts, having key contributions to environmental protection.
At the same time, Việt Nam has actively participated in regional and international events on environmental protection and climate change as well as Conventions, International Agreements such as Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and Convention on Biological Diversity, etc.
With the participation of different levels, sectors from central to local, the awareness and responsibility on environmental protection of staff and the awareness and actions by local people on environmental protection in the last five years have showed clear changes. Local people want to live in a clean environment and actively participate in environmental protection activities such as tree planting, rubbish collection, residential common area cleaning, etc.
Particularly, Việt Nam has gained remarkable achievements in hazardous chemical management and treatment, including persistent organic pollutants. Hundreds of tonnes of waste and plant protection products contaminated soil have been environmentally safely treated; thousands of tonnes of dioxin contaminated soils have been isolated and safely treated.
For higher achievements in environmental protection in the upcoming time, I would like to suggest some recommendations to be considered at the Conference to be put into specific action plans, particularly: the need of conversion from development and finalization of policies and legalisations to focusing resources to implement these policies in an effective, transparent and closely monitored manner.
In the national environmental management, it is necessary to use existing tools such as: strategic environmental assessment and environmental impact assessment in an adequate and transparent manner, to avoid the arising of serious environmental pollution that happened recently. For example, the pollution of Đồng Nai river due to wastewater of Vedan company or the landfill of plant protection chemicals by Thanh Thái Nicotex Company (Thanh Hóa), etc.
It is necessary to fully promulgate environmental standards, as bases for pollution control, waste management, and timely prevention of arose pollution sources.
Regarding biodiversity conservation, it is necessary to review functions, tasks, human resources and coordination among management agencies on biodiversity conservation, to avoid the overlapping and scattering of resources as it is now.
It is necessary to actively and more effectively participate in negotiations on climate change, particularly in the process of proposing a new legalized agreement applied to all countries at the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris at the end of 2015. Of which, the development of regulations and the operation of established organisations and mechanism (such as Climate Change Adaptation Fund, Green Climate Fund) will contribute to the development, understanding and mobilization of all resources for response to climate change in Việt Nam.
The year of 2015 marks the completion of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and prepares for the transition from MDGs to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). What kind of roadmap should Việt Nam have to implement the above goals?
Mr. Đào Xuân Lai: Việt Nam is one of pioneer countries in implementing and achieving almost all MDGs early. Particular MDG 7 - ensure environmental sustainability, Việt Nam has been achieving remarkable advances but by 2015 it is highly likely that Việt Nam hardly achieves MDG 7. This sets many challenges for Việt Nam and the Natural Resources and Environment sector in achieving 17 SDGs targets that have been approved at the United Nations Assembly during 25 - 27/9/2015.
The successful implementation experience of MDGs is an important background for the implementation of SDGs. However, it is necessary to differentiate MDGs and SDGs. MDGs are targets relating to some sectors and some particular public groups and are the framework for developing countries; SDGs, on the other hand, are comprehensive targets with the participation of the whole society in both developed and developing countries.
Due to the comprehensive feature of SDGs, the first action to be taken is to disseminate them to all people and organisations that are living and working in Việt Nam to know, understand and contribute intellectuals and manpower to promulgate, implement and monitor the implementation and achievement of these targets.
According to the experience of MDGs implementation, it is necessary to localise these global targets and indicators into Việt Nam’s targets, to mainstream into strategies, plans, programmes, projects in all levels and sectors for implementation. The prioritization and concentrated implementation is important to achieve specific targets and indicators.
In addition, the mobilization of the participation and investment from the private sector is the deciding factor in the implementation of SDGs. Enterprises have investment sources, study capabilities as well as create jobs for the society. In addition, it is necessary to assign clear and specific tasks to organisations, groups, individuals linked with political responsibilities and regular tasks, to ensure effective implementation and monitoring. The surveillance, evaluation and periodic monitoring SDGs as well as annual report on the implementation of MDGs also play important roles in mobilisation and distribution of resources as well as promotion of the implementation of SDGs.
|UNDP supports Việt Nam on plant protection products contamination treatment|
The prioritized selection and integration of SGDs into the socio-economic development plan in Việt Nam play an important role to ensure the successful implementation of SDGs. So what prioritized targets and indicators should Việt Nam select ?
Mr. Đào Xuân Lai: The 4th National Environment Conference is organized at the time when Việt Nam is preparing and finalizing the medium-term 5 year 2016-2020 socio-economic development plan and SDGs were approved by country members of the United Nations.
Some prioritized targets and indicators for integration into socio-economic development plan are as below:
First, it is necessary to integrate environmental quality standards, particularly air, water and forest quality into the socio-economic development plan of Việt Nam to ensure the rights of people “to live in a clean environment” and “the responsibility to protect the environment” that are mentioned in Article 43 of the Constitution of Việt Nam 2013. The 2011 - 2015 socio-economic development plan only has some targets on forest cover and lacks specific indicators on forest quality.
At the same time, the maintenance of good environment quality, conservation of natural resources and nature are necessary to protect the rights and the equality of future generations.
Second, indicators on resilience, response to climate and disaster risks: extreme climatic phenomena have caused impacts on human and properties for Việt Nam, particularly poor residential communities and ethnic minorities in coastal and mountainous areas. On the other hand, it is necessary to enhance climate change resilience for infrastructure, transportation vehicles and industrial zones, as well as ability to rehabilitate of ecosystems, particularly coastal mangroves to maintain socio-economic and environmental benefits that Việt Nam had achieved, continuing to reduce poverty and ensure sustainable development.
Third, green growth indicator: Việt Nam approved the National Strategy on Green Growth during 2012 - 2020 and the Program on economic restructuring towards improving quality, efficiency and competitiveness during 2013 - 2020.
Currently, the intensity of energy use in Việt Nam is highest compared to other economies in the region, this also means high greenhouse gas emissions. Calculations based on the 7th Power Distribution Plan (PDP7) show that to 2030, thermal power plants will make up 85% of the total national greenhouse gas emission, while, Việt Nam has to import coals in the next few years. Opposite to the global trend, Việt Nam seems to plan for a future energy development based on fossil fuels. Therefore, Việt Nam needs to promulgate policies to ensure the stability and transparency during the implementation to attract and to use effectively investments on renewable energy, particularly wind and solar energy.
Within the current international framework, Việt Nam is still not responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emission. The average emission per capita is only 1.46 tonnes of CO2, lower than most of other average income countries. However the emission of Việt Nam is increasing rapidly compared to neighbouring countries. COP21 Conference aims to achieve a new legally binding agreement for all countries, including developing countries like Việt Nam; accordingly, Việt Nam is responsible for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.
UNDP has actively supported Việt Nam in implementing and reporting the progress of MGDs implementation in the last 15 years, UNDP is ready to accompany the Government and people of Việt Nam to implement SDGs successfully in the upcoming time■