UNDP chief: Inclusion and sustainability key to development progress in Viet Nam
Hanoi – “In considering its next generation of reforms, Viet Nam can opt for an inclusive and sustainable development pathway,” said UN Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark in her keynote address at an international conference sharing international experience and lessons for Viet Nam.
The theme of the 2 day meeting is on ‘Economic Reforms for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth: International Experience and Lessons for Viet Nam’. Jointly organized by the Government of Viet Nam and UNDP in Ha Noi, the meeting is examining international lessons and experiences which may be relevant to Viet Nam in furthering its reforms (including in SOEs, banking sector, industrial and agriculture development, and international integration) in its pursuit for more inclusive and sustainable growth.
The conference in Hanoi attracted more than 150 expert participants, including policy makers from different line ministries and provinces, researchers from national research institutes, representatives from domestic (state and private) enterprises, ambassadors from G20 and ASEAN countries, and representatives of the UN and international and regional financial institutions.
Opening the conference, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Pham Binh Minh talked about the development vision for Viet Nam towards 2020. “For Viet Nam, reaching middle income status is a result of 30-years of renovation. Yet escaping the middle-income trap and moving towards a sustainable and inclusive economy requires even stronger reforms in development thinking, vision as well as the determination of the whole economy,” said Pham Binh Minh. “Through this conference, the Government of Viet Nam expects that international experts and scholars will share new thinking, experience and good practices from around the world on sustainable and inclusive growth”.
UNDP Administrator Helen Clark noted that the majority of the region’s population live in more unequal societies today than they did two decades ago, in spite of often impressive economic growth.
“Inequalities have a negative impact on the well-being of people and the prospects of societies as a whole. Income inequality, for example impedes long-term growth prospects and dampens the poverty-reducing impact of growth. It is associated with a host of poorer social outcomes, ranging from low health status and educational achievement to higher crime rates”.
“The experiences of Japan and South Korea, however, in this region have shown that rapid economic growth can go hand-in-hand with low and even falling inequality.”
Helen Clark also outlined key factors which have limited the inclusivity and sustainability of global growth to date, including unevenness of growth across sectors, low employment growth, disparities in asset holdings and access to services, the nature of globalization and shifting global value chains, and unsustainable patterns of consumption and production.
Looking ahead, she suggested a number of critical areas which the Government could consider in the reform process to promote inclusive and sustainable growth in Viet Nam.
These could include:
- adopting more measures to improve the productivity and quality of agriculture and aquaculture;
- undertaking a progressive upgrading of the economy towards higher value sectors overall to establish new comparative advantage and create more decent work;
- expanding opportunities through access to quality and relevant education;
- building a modern social protection system;
- investing in disaster risk reduction and in climate change adaptation to build greater economic and social resilience; and
- adopting more transparent and accountable public resource allocation and management processes.
“With smart policy choices, Viet Nam’s future is bright”, Helen Clark said. “At UNDP we are committed to supporting Viet Nam on its development journey, guided by the country’s own priorities and our mandate to advance human and sustainable development.”
Before the conference, Helen Clark travelled to Ho Chi Minh City where she discussed poverty reduction strategies with the Chairman of HCMC People’s Committee, Le Hoang Quan. She met with migrant workers in a settlement on the outskirts of HCMC to see for herself the challenges they face. Helen Clark then travelled to Can Tho province to learn more about the impact of climate change on water levels and quality in the Mekong Delta, and about Viet Nam’s ongoing efforts on climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness. She also visited Tra Vinh province to learn about strategies for tackling poverty among ethnic minorities.
Viet Nam has achieved or exceeded most of Millennium Development Goal targets for 2015, in particular on poverty reduction and primary education. The country halved its poverty rate in the nine years from 1993, and then halved it again between 2002 and 2008. Pockets of extreme poverty remain, however, with half of the ethnic minority population in 2012 still estimated to be living below the poverty line and below national averages of progress on MDG targets.
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