To mark the Netherlands’ National Day on April 27, Dutch ambassador Elsbeth Akkerman writes to Việt Nam News
King’s Day is the Netherlands national day, on which we celebrate our unity in diversity. I would like to take you on a short journey through a few of many Dutch-Vietnamese co-operation projects and activities in the spirit of this joyous day. Việt Nam and the Netherlands enjoy strong ties, built on a solid foundation of economic co-operation. Did you know that Netherlands is the largest European investor in Việt Nam? And the second largest European trading partner?
But there is more than trade and investment only. We also enjoy strong cultural ties. I would like to highlight one project in particular: The World Press Photo. Every year, thousands of photographers from all over the world, including Việt Nam and the Netherlands, submit beautiful photos and stories that matter from the Andes Mountains in Latin America to the Mekong Delta in Việt Nam to the World Press Photo Foundation. The most meaningful photos and stories are then selected by an independent jury. The Netherlands Embassy and Consulate General in HCMC have both, in close co-operation with the local government and People’s Party, shown the exhibition in public spaces in both cities. We will continue to do so in future years, so the people of Viet Nam get to enjoy the same beautiful exhibition that is shown in Amsterdam and many other cities in the world. The exposition helps to create a deeper understanding for different people from diverse cultures all around the world.
The audience at the Word Press Photo Exhibition in Hà Nội, November 2020. — Photo courtesy of Phong Le/Mat Ca
The Netherlands and Việt Nam share a long history with each other, and we also share part of our geography. Both countries are rich in deltas and have long-standing strategic partnerships to collaborate on climate adaptation and water management. That is both a blessing and a risk. Floods can bring many benefits such as fertile sediment, pest control and fish. The Netherlands, therefore, works closely with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to develop a strategy for living with water in Việt Nam by creating space for water and floods.
When water and floods are not managed and contained, storms and heavy rainfall will continue to produce disasters like the past year in the central provinces. Such disasters expose the vulnerabilities of coasts and deltas that both Việt Nam and the Netherlands face. The aim of our co-operation is to turn vulnerabilities along the coast and in the Mekong Delta into resilience and sustainable, inclusive development.
Apart from our structural support to improve water security and water safety, the Kingdom of the Netherlands has granted 2 million euros in disaster relief funds for the victims of the recent disasters in central Việt Nam, on top of EU funds. This additional fund was provided to the Dutch Relief Alliance, a coalition of fifteen NGOs, who then disbursed the funds through their local offices and partners. The role of civil society organisations proved to be pivotal and contributed to an effective distribution to Vietnamese people in need of support.
Being the second-largest agricultural exporter in the world, the Netherlands is eager to support the development of the agricultural sector in Việt Nam. Việt Nam and the Netherlands have signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement in the field of agriculture of which an Agricultural Transformation Programme (ATP) is an integral part. The programme aims to mobilise and co-ordinate international assistance to support Viet Nam in speeding up its agricultural development. The objective is to move Vietnamese agriculture up in the value chain, provide access to the world market and contribute to the global sustainable development goals by promoting sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture.
Part of the solution to combat climate change is to reduce our carbon footprint by making our economies more circular. The Netherlands economy is currently 24.5 per cent circular, where the worldwide figure is 8.6 per cent. The Netherlands aims to realise a 100 per cent circular economy by 2050. Most Dutch companies in Việt Nam, like Dutch Lady, Heineken and Unilever, work hard to make their product cycles more circular. The Netherlands Embassy supports the ambition of Viet Nam to make its overall economy more circular by sharing best practices from the Netherlands.
A flea market on the King's Day - a special cultural feature of the Netherlands. — Photo partnerpete.com
The celebration of King’s Day in the Netherlands fits very well in a circular economy. Did you know that every year on King’s Day, Amsterdam and other cities, towns and villages turn into one big flea market? One man’s trash is another’s treasure and King’s Day is certainly a day for treasure hunting. Millions of people (including children) set up stalls and become entrepreneurs for one day.
Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of every economy and benefits from the participation of as many entrepreneurs as possible, regardless of ethnicity, race, culture, age, or gender. Therefore, we are working with Viettrade and SheTrades on a project aiming to enhance the competitiveness of Vietnamese women-owned enterprises. E-learning courses for women entrepreneurs will be developed and multiplied via Train the Trainer activities to reach a wider community of women in localities. E-women participants to the courses can take part in a competition for The Best Business Plan, with a cash award of VNĐ100 million (US$4,357) for the first prize winner. We hope that many Vietnamese women will develop their entrepreneurial skills, will write a business plan to improve their business and will join the competition!
As Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Việt Nam, I look forward to continuing our co-operation in the realms of trade and investment, water, agriculture, sustainability and culture. But also hope that our understanding of one another will continue to grow and allow for our King’s Day, Vietnamese National Day and all national days over the world to soon be celebrated in person again. VNS