Speech by Ms. Ramla Khalidi, UNDP Viet Nam Resident Representative at the Event on Air Quality

June 3, 2024

Mr Nguyen Minh Tan – Deputy Director of Hanoi Department of Natural Resources and Environment,
Ms Pham Thi My Hoa – Vice President of Hanoi Women’s Union,
Dr Angela Pratt, WHO Representative, and UN colleagues,
Representatives of national and Hanoi government agencies, 
National and international organizations,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is my genuine pleasure, on behalf of UNDP and together with WHO, to welcome you all to the Green One UN House as we celebrate World Environment Day.

When I got up this morning, I checked the air quality reading for Hanoi. It has become a regular – and sometimes painful – habit.

Recently, there has been an ever-increasing series of alarms on air quality – from the media, scientists, experts and policy makers.

And we have seen this beautiful, green city of Hanoi, with its beloved lakes, parks and historical sites, appearing at times on lists of cities with the worst air quality readings.

At times it can be overwhelming.

The air we breathe is essential for life. Yet it is increasingly under threat.

Air pollution is an urgent health issue, as we will hear today from our WHO colleagues. Clean air is also essential for human development and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Social and economic losses in Viet Nam due to air pollution have been estimated at more than US$13 billion every year, not including future clean-up costs. This is equivalent to 4% of the country’s GDP.

Tackling air pollution is an essential part of building sustainable cities and communities, promoting responsible production and consumption, achieving universal access to sustainable energy, and taking effective action on climate.

Switching from coal-fired power to renewable energy sources, promoting a circular economy and addressing greenhouse gas emissions from industry, transport and other sectors in line with Viet Nam’s net zero climate commitment, will also directly address key sources of air pollution impacting Hanoi and surrounding provinces.

Clean air contributes to labor productivity, academic performance, crop yields, livestock production and healthy ecosystems.

And with air pollution often impacting the most vulnerable, including children, women and the elderly, improving air quality also contributes to reducing inequalities and to gender equality.

Ladies and gentlemen:

We are here today to take action.

Viet Nam’s national air quality plan, and Hanoi’s new plan to 2030 and vision to 2035, set out clear priorities we can all support.

UNDP is contributing to improved air quality across many areas of our work in Viet Nam, including the just energy transition and our support to Viet Nam’s net-zero climate pledge by 2050, our work on e-mobility, promoting electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, on circular economy and waste management, and through the annual PAPI assessment of people’s perceptions of environmental governance.

And we are excited to expand our work on air quality further to tackle air pollution at source in future, for example through engaging with local authorities and communities to pilot innovative approaches to tackle burning of waste and agricultural residues.

UNDP is proud to join hands with the City of Hanoi, the Women’s Union, WHO and all of you here today in the ‘Clean Air, Green City’ campaign.

Thank you all for your presence today, which I believe represents your commitment, and our commitment, to action for Clean Air and a Green City of Hanoi.

Thank you. Xin Cam On.