|IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong (centre) at a press conference after the closing session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) conference Saturday in HCM City. — VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp|
Xuân Hiệp and An Phương
HCM CITY — Parliaments should take stronger action to respond to climate change by maximising their roles as legislators and supervisors as well as enhancing international co-operation to ensure “no one is left behind”, said a Vietnamese National Assembly (NA) official.
Speaking at the closing session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) conference that ended on Saturday, Tòng Thị Phóng, vice chairwoman of the NA, said climate change was among the most serious threats to sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Climate change represents a serious threat to human health and well-being. It can affect health through direct natural disasters, such as floods and storms, but also through communicable disease, food insecurity and population displacement,” she said.
The NA has discussed potential measures to promote lawmakers’ role in effectively carrying out sustainable development goals (SDGs) and ensuring that “no one is left behind”, according to Phóng.
She said all parliaments were urged to use the IPU/UNDP Self-Assessment Toolkit as a useful way of identifying how to advance sustainable development.
Phóng also said parliaments of participating countries were responsible for co-ordinating with the United Nations (UN) to empower parliaments and delegates in carrying out SDGs.
Gender disparity, which requires women to handle a heavy workload with limited decision-making authority, has made them more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Women and children are the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change, she said.
Parliaments should continue to support the vulnerable, especially poor people, women, children, and hard-to-reach populations.
In addition, the NA should monitor and wisely mobilise resources for the effective implementation of the sustainable development agenda, and encourage international organisations and developed countries to support developing countries in reaching these goals.
Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General, thanked Việt Nam for successfully hosting the seminar and emphasised that climate change is a serious threat that requires urgent action. “Climate change is not going to wait for us. It will continue to cause destruction,” he said, adding, “Well-being for all is key.”
Participating parliaments should scale up efforts and ensure that they are consistent with the sustainable development agenda, he said. “It takes every member of IPU to make SGDs happen,” he added.
Climate change remains an economic, social and environmental challenge to the achievement of SDGs due to the region’s high level of vulnerability to climate change.
Participating parliaments have drawn up strategies and recommendations to advance parliamentary engagement with SDGs in the Asia-Pacific region.
Without concrete responses, climate change could put people at risk, endanger government revenue and increase poverty, causing social fragility and further inequalities, the parliaments said.
Commitments to climate change responses of each country need to be integrated into sustainable development plans, and transferred into actions by government at all levels, the business sector and all citizens.
Support from developed countries to developing countries in the form of financial resources, technology transfer, transparency and capacity building are the triggers for climate change action in developing countries.
Through their budgetary functions, parliaments can play a vital role in advancing SDG implementation. Delegates expressed their hope that the outcome of the conference would be brought to the attention of all the parliaments of the world and other relevant stakeholders.
The IPU is expected to bring the recommendations of the conference to the attention of the global parliamentary community at the 137th IPU Assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The regional seminar on sustainable development goals for parliaments around the Asia-Pacific region attracted the participation of representatives from parliaments of more than 20 IPU-member nations and international organisations.
Organised by the Vietnamese NA and the IPU, the three-day event discussed topics related to the conference theme “Responding to Climate Change - Actions of Legislators to Achieve SDGs”.
Việt Nam is one of the countries most at risk from climate change, with the Mekong Delta one of three deltas worldwide vulnerable to rising sea levels, experts said.
According to climate-change scenarios, by the end of the 21st century, about 40 per cent of the Mekong Delta, 11 per cent of the Red River Delta, and 3 per cent of other coastal provinces would be under seawater.
HCM City, the southern economic hub, is forecast to lose more than 20 per cent of its area to the sea.
About 10-12 per cent of the country’s population will suffer direct impact from climate change and about 10 per cent of national GDP will be lost. — VNS