Launching Ceremony of the National Action Month for the Environment and the Viet Nam Seas and Islands Week in response to World Environment Day and World Oceans Day

Remarks by Ms. Ramla Khalidi, UNDP Resident Representative on behalf of the United Nations in Viet Nam

June 4, 2023

Excellency, Dr. Tran Hong Ha, Deputy Prime Minister;
Excellency, Dr. Dang Quoc Khanh, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment;
Mr. Nguyen Duc Trung, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Nghe An Province;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen,

On a planetary scale, we are all deeply dependent on oceans. They produce at least half of the oxygen we breathe, and absorb up to a third of the carbon dioxide we produce. Viet Nam in particular is strongly tied to the sea: its 28 coastal provinces are home to half its population and contribute to about 60 percent of national GDP.

We have, however, historically taken much more than we have given in return. Oceans and lands worldwide are being affected by climate change, disasters, overexploitation of natural resources, unsustainable economic activities, biodiversity degradation, and marine plastics in particular. There may be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050 if no serious action is taken. This huge amount of leakage will lead not only to serious consequences for delicate marine ecosystems, but also for our own wellbeing and the livelihoods of coastal communities.

A healthy ocean and clean environment are critical resources for green and blue economic rebound. According to MONRE-UNDP’s 2022 Blue Economy Scenarios, by applying blue scenarios, the GDP of Viet Nam’s marine economic sectors could jump by more than a third by 2030.

Much has already been done to move in this direction. The Party and the Government have promulgated several key policies supporting the sustainable development of the marine economy. Just yesterday, we welcomed the launch of new Strategy for the Sustainable Exploitation and Use of Natural Resources. And few days before, Viet Nam joined global discussion on global treaty on plastic pollution.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Sustainable use of oceans will be key to building a prosperous and sustainable future for the Vietnamese people.

Firstly, Viet Nam should strengthen its efforts to shift towards a sustainable ocean economy; partly through accelerating marine spatial planning. The MSP in place is essential for unlocking the tremendous potential of offshore wind power development for Viet Nam, which when realised can contribute to meeting the ambitious energy targets in the PDP 8 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050 as committed at COP26.

Secondly, Viet Nam needs to scale up its excellent work on strengthening the resilience of its vulnerable coastal communities. As Chair of the ASEAN Disaster Management Committee, Viet Nam is in a position to showcase its good work on mangrove reforestation, storm-resilient housing, anticipatory actions, and community-based disaster risk reduction.

Thirdly, all stakeholders including the Government, the private sector, communities, households, and individuals should make commitments and take action. I was inspired by the story of Mr. Tinh, a fisherman from Quang Binh province. Every day, Mr. Tinh attaches a net bag behind his boat and collects floating waste to bring it back to shore. Through this  modest act, Mr Tinh contributes to reducing 10kg of waste from drifting out and harming the ocean ecosystems. We should heed the lessons from this example and promote action at the individual and institutional levels.

Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the UN we are proud to collaborate with you all in the key areas of climate change, environmental protection and circular economy. The connections we forge to this end have become more vital than ever before. 
Xin cảm ơn!