Opening Remarks at National Assembly-Committee for Social Affairs Workshop on Multi-Dimensional Poverty

14 Sep 2013

Date:     Saturday, 14 September 2013
Event:   National Assembly-Committee for Social Affairs Workshop on Multi-Dimensional Poverty
Venue:  National Assembly Guest House, 27A Tran Hung Dao

Excellency, Madam Trương Thị Mai, Chair of the National Assembly Committee for Social Affairs,
Excellency, Mr. Đỗ Mạnh Hùng, Vice Chair of Committee for Social Affairs,
Mr. Nguyễn Trọng Đàm, Vice Minister of MOLISA
Honorable members of the National Assembly,
Distinguished Representatives from the Government and Agencies
Development partners, UN Colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you all for taking the time to be with us here this morning for our exciting dialogue meeting on multi-dimensional poverty. We thank the Committee for Social Affairs and MOLISA for organizing today’s event, which will shed light on the application of multi-dimensional poverty measures in Viet Nam and relevant benchmark countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Viet Nam is now a Middle-Income Country, facing challenges of reform and transition. Its economy and society are becoming more complex and multi-faceted, and the Vietnamese people’s development aspirations, expectations and needs are increasingly diverse. In the recent national grassroots consultations on post-2015 development agenda, stakeholder groups expressed their desire for better living standards – but also for more participation in decisions affecting their lives, a more equal society, quality employment and stable jobs, access to affordable health care, and quality education and training.

Viet Nam has done remarkably well in its human development path and poverty reduction since 1990s, but sustaining and enlarging this progress require both economic reforms and more nuanced policies supported by quality analysis, research and data.  

There is growing consensus among researchers and policy makers in Viet Nam as well as worldwide that poverty is a multi-faceted phenomenon, in which insufficient income is just one of many deprivations that the poor are facing. It is increasingly recognized that poverty measurements should capture the most essential and inter-linked deprivations, and that multi-dimensional poverty measurements can improve stakeholder understanding of the situation and thereby drive improvements in policy making and implementation.

Many middle-income countries such as Mexico, Malaysia, Brazil, Colombia and China have begun to apply multi-dimensional poverty concepts and approaches to poverty monitoring, policy design and implementation. Some of these experiences and lessons will be shared at our workshop. The lessons can be very useful for Viet Nam, as it explores new and innovative ways of capturing and addressing the changing character of poverty.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

After significant research, advocacy, and international experience sharing by the UN and other development partners in Viet Nam, the value of the multi-dimensional poverty approach in poverty monitoring, targeting, and policy-making is increasingly recognized. This is evident by the recent endorsement by the Government on August 26th 2013 on the development of a Master Plan to shift focus from a single (income) poverty approach to the multidimensional poverty approach. We are pleased to note also that Mr. Nguyễn Trọng Đàm is now a member of the Global Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network, which has a primary role of exchanging experience among countries actively measuring Multidimensional Poverty.

The development of the MDP Master Plan led by MOLISA is in an advanced stage with effective collaboration and technical cooperation with the National Assembly, other ministries, research institutes, and international development partners including UNDP, UNICEF, and Irish Aid. I fully expect that the Master Plan will set out a concrete roadmap and a methodology for application of a MDP approach in Viet Nam in which, firstly, specifies relevant deprivations that make up the multidimensional poverty in Viet Nam, MDP measures, and identifies necessary data improvement; secondly, identifies an Analytical Framework for Understanding Multidimensional Poverty to help collect, analyze and interpret relevant data; and thirdly, identifies a Policy Framework to help improve coordination among partners and to promote the optimal use of limited resources to achieve poverty reduction and social development targets.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this will not be an easy task and there needs to be a concerted and focused effort to realize these ambitions. The relevance for policy development and implications for new and innovative poverty reduction initiatives depend on how Viet Nam can shape its own interpretation of MDP. Experiences from Brazil and Mexico that will be discussed here today will need to be contextualized within the socio-economic realities of Viet Nam.

We are pleased to note that MOLISA in close cooperation with the NA and UNDP has actively taken steps to move forward including roadmap drafting, MDP concept note development, and mobilization of experts for elaborating options of MDP measures. A pilot on MDP methodology is being launched in Ho Chi Minh City to provide empirical and practical inputs to the National effort in setting up the Master Plan.    
 
I believe that the commitment and enthusiasm of national stakeholders, with support from the international community and civil society, will advance the realization of multi-dimensional poverty policies and approaches in Viet Nam.  
I look forward to a stimulating discussion and wish all workshop participants good health, success and happiness.

Xin cảm ơn!