|Participants attend the 6th Global Environment Facility (GEF-6) Assembly at Đà Nẵng City’s Ariyana International Convention centre. — VNS Photo Trương Ngọc Thành|
ĐÀ NẴNG — Despite limited funds and many challenges, Việt Nam has included conservation and climate change mitigation efforts in the country’s socio-economic development plan as it faces pollution, rising sea levels and environmental degradation.
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc emphasised the country’s focus on environmental protection at the opening ceremony of the 6th Global Environment Facility (GEF-6) Assembly in Đà Nẵng City yesterday.
He said the country has made progress towards the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and towards its commitments at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-21) in Paris.
“Việt Nam pledges that we will not sacrifice our environment for economic growth and we will reach our sustainable development goals. The government of Việt Nam has also increased innovation and joint-action among businesses and the community in dealing with climate change,” Phúc said.
“We highly appreciate the important role of GEF and its effective co-operation. The government of Việt Nam will join hands with GEF in implementing the regional partnership project for a plastic-free ocean,” he added.
Phúc said he hoped to see more co-operation and experience sharing between partners and GEF members and funding to deal with global environmental issues.
He urged GEF to allocate funds to support member countries facing the severe consequence of global climate change.
The PM also said GEF could propose integrated projects at the global and regional level to solve biodiversity decline, pollution, environmental degradation and plastic waste in the ocean and on land.
He also called for unity among member countries for a ‘resilient, sustainable and life-affirming planet’.
Speaking at the GEF plenary opening ceremony, Chairwoman and CEO of GEF Naoko Ishii hailed the success of Việt Nam and its huge achievements over the past several decades.
“Since the launch of đổi mới (Renewal Process) in 1986, Việt Nam has achieved unprecedented growth of 5.5 per cent for almost three decades, and become a middle-income country. Poverty has gone down from 50 per cent to just 3 per cent, and the Vietnamese people are now more healthy and better educated than in many upper-middle-income countries,” Ishii said.
“Throughout its development process, Việt Nam has suffered from the degradation of land and forests, and from the pollution of air and water. The PM of Việt Nam expressed his strong commitment to not sacrifice the environment for economic growth, and to encourage clean energy, green growth and blue and healthy oceans at the G7 meeting in Canada a few weeks ago.”
She said humans are suffering from increasingly visible impacts of climate change —coastal cities such as Đà Nẵng are vulnerable and so are small island states.
“We must transform our key economic systems; our food and land use system, our cities, our energy system, and move on to a circular economy. We must restore the ecosystems that are the very foundation for our societies and economies as we know them,” she said.
Ishii added: “We can tackle emerging challenges such as marine plastics. We can harness new ideas such as a circular economy. We need to move out of our own comfort zone and take a leap for disruption.”
She said GEF’s 29 donors have secured US$4.1 billion for next four years.
Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine said the work of GEF, supporting developing countries with nationally-led emissions reduction efforts and protection for millions of people vulnerable to climate change, has saved lives and improved chances for future survival.
She said GEF’s contributions to addressing chemicals and pollutants played a pivotal role in paving the way for a recovery of the ozone layer.
Gemedo Dalle, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of Ethiopia said, “We need every country to step up their climate targets by 2020 to help protect the survival of my country, as we were promised in the Paris Agreement.”
Addressing the GEF-6, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez said, “The current targets set by countries in 2015 lead to warming that can reach 3 or 4 degrees Celsius. These levels will certainly drown vulnerable nations. If no real and transformational changes are put forward, the ability to enjoy and advance human rights, peace and sustainable development will be permanently threatened.”
Senator Loren Legarda of the Philippines added, “Our nations are among the most vulnerable to climate change, yet our targets are among the most aggressive in the world. We invite the rest of the world to fulfil their pledges with a far greater sense of urgency. We know that pursuing the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold we fought for is the best way not only to protect our people and climate but also to spur economic growth.“
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Việt Nam Trần Hồng Hà and GEF chairwoman Ishii will host a press conference on the results of the GEF6 Assembly at the closing ceremony today. — VNS