For Decade of More Sustainable Development

2:07:51 PM | 9/20/2019

On September 12, the National Conference on Sustainable Development 2019 with the theme of “For a decade of more sustainable development” towards 2030 took place in Hanoi on September 12. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chaired the plenary session of this conference.

The conference was attended by Standing Vice Chair of the National Assembly Tong Thi Phong, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, and more than 700 representatives of Party agencies, Government agencies, ministries, businesses, associations, research agencies, embassies and international organizations.

Remarkable results

Delivering the opening remarks, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam affirmed that Vietnam has made great efforts to realize millennium development goals (MDGs) and attained many positive achievements highly appreciated by the international community. Vietnam has also always expressed its strong commitment to achieving the goals under the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Government of Vietnam has issued a national action plan for sustainable development with 115 specific targets and integrated them into all policies and action plans.

He emphasized that it is impossible to achieve the sustainable development goal without proper, aggressive and consistent actions from all levels, sectors, business community and all people, with the cooperation of the international community. All together join hands and work for successful delivery of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the 2030 Agenda.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc affirmed that sustainable development is both an urgent need and a vital trend of social development. Sustainable development policies are expressed consistently in documents, programs and plans for national development in each period.

During 30 years of renovation, Vietnam has simultaneously carried out many solutions to promote sustainable development and obtained many important achievements such as macroeconomic stability and sustained economic growth, and improved growth quality.

Vietnam's Human Development Index (HDI) in 2017 stood high among 189 countries. The country actively took part in global environmental protection initiatives. According to the fourth annual review report on the progress of delivering sustainable development goals in 2019, Vietnam ranked No. 54, up three places over 2018 and No. 2 in ASEAN by sustainable development index. High ranking indicators in Vietnam are poverty reduction, education, energy access, sustainable consumption and production patterns, and climate change.

The Prime Minister praised typical measures such as aggressive and specific measures adopted by Hanoi in its program to plant one million new trees in 2016 - 2018 and 600,000 more trees by 2020. The city assigned the target of planting trees to each district. Quang Ninh province terminated the use of disposable plastic products in Ha Long Bay. Cu Lao Cham in Quang Nam province hasn’t used plastic bags for 10 years now.

The Prime Minister also spoke highly of the initiative to set up Vietnam Packaging Recycling Alliance or Saigon Coop, a large supermarket chain, which basically does not use plastic bags for consumption. It is necessary to keep investing heavily in improving human resources quality, especially for the poor, residents in remote and isolated areas, both physically and intellectually, to achieve the Millennium Development Goal on human development as committed.

Sustainable development is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda

The Prime Minister asked ministries, branches and localities to study to integrate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into the socioeconomic strategy for 2021 - 2030 with specific plans and tasks.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc pressed the necessity to speed up economic restructuring and perfection towards more efficiently using natural resources, conserving energy, increasing economic competitiveness, changing technologies, adapting to climate change, reducing poverty, and ensuring sustainable economic development. He also urged joint actions with the international community to soon realize the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. It is important to integrate and speed up the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 13 on prompt and effective response to climate change and natural disasters and Goal 14 on conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development before 2030.

On performance growth of all economic sectors, especially the State sector, the Government requested accelerating the construction of e-government towards a digital government, digital society and digital economy as current world megatrends; completing the legal framework and business environment, issuing breakthrough policies to encourage innovation and enhance competitiveness, supporting all people and businesses to promote their creativity, produce material wealth and build a prosperous society.

Another important task is to develop mechanisms and policies to encourage the application of circular economy models in production and consumption towards a zero-emission economic business model.

He emphasized globalization and technological trends, along with breakthrough business models, which fundamentally changed the mindset and business approaches that made many civilian economic activities more optimal and sustainable. However, underlying cultural values ​​and national identities will endure, which makes sustainable distinctions, a support for long-term economic prosperity and a stepping stone for our progress in the 21st century and beyond.

Important tasks

The Prime Minister assigned the Ministry of Planning and Investment to work with concerned ministries, branches, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) to base on Conference conclusions and submit a draft resolution on sustainable development to the Government for consideration and promulgation.

“Joint efforts are needed for common awareness and action at all levels, sectors and the whole society on sustainable development. This is the responsibility of the entire Party, the entire people, the whole political system and all members of society,” said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

He requested ministries and branches, based on national action plans and roadmaps for implementation of sustainable development goals, elaborate and promulgate specific action plans for each target in each branch and field.

Since more than 30 provinces and cities have not yet made plans to execute the National Plan and the Prime Minister's Directive on sustainable development, he requested localities to pay special attention to carrying out social development targets, especially in education, health, human development, environmental protection, cultural identity preservation

Delivering a concluding speech to the gathering, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc affirmed that sustainable development is both an urgent need and an inevitable trend of social development process. Sustainable development policies are expressed consistently in documents, programs and plans for national development in each period.

Huong Ly

Ms. Tong Thi Phong - Vice Chair of the National Assembly

Sustainable development is not only Vietnam's commitment to the international community but also an intrinsic requirement of the country; and matches with Party's consistent policies on rapid and sustainable development, people-centered and quality-focused development. The Government has issued action plans to fulfill this requirement.

The Government, at the same time, has attached importance to instructive criteria and integrated sustainable development goals into local development programs. The Government has issued the Vietnam Agenda 21 (2004), the Vietnam Sustainable Development Strategy for 2011-2020 (2012), and most recently, the National Action Plan for implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Government recently launched the National Action Plan for implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The National Assembly welcomed every effort and resolution of the Government for delivering sustainable development goals for national development and people’s wellbeing.

With its role, the National Assembly has perfected the legal framework for building a market economy and perfected State institutions that elevate supervisory roles of people's power agencies.

Through its legislative and supervisory functions, the National Assembly has adopted many laws, passing of budgets for environmental protection and climate response. The National Assembly has also participated in sustainable development goals through international conventions.

Mr. Nguyen Van Trung - Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment

With regard to international commitments, in 2017, the Prime Minister issued a National Action Plan for implementation of the 2030 Agenda with 17 goals and 115 targets on sustainable development. One important task set out in the Action Plan is fully integrating Vietnam's sustainable development goals into the Socioeconomic Development Strategy for 2021-2030 by 2020.

The consistent and aggressive implementation of the above-mentioned policies has promoted the delivery of sustainable development goals in Vietnam over the past time and is highly appreciated by the international community. Especially, Vietnam's multidimensional poverty rate decreased from 9.9% in 2015 to less than 7% in 2017. Health insurance coverage reached 86.4% of population in 2017. The rate of primary graduation was 99.7% in the 2016-2017 school year. More than 99% of Vietnamese households had access to electricity in 2016. GDP growth in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively reached 6.7%, 6.2% and 6.8%.

To successfully achieve 17 sustainable development goals, aligning sustainable development goals into the Socioeconomic Development Strategy in 2021-2030 and the Socioeconomic Development Plan in 2021-2025 is important and necessary for Vietnam.

For its part, the Ministry of Planning and Investment is currently researching, analyzing, assessing and selecting appropriate sustainable development goals to integrate into the Socioeconomic Development Strategy in 2021-2030. Specifically, the ministry will focus on improving the quality of socialist-oriented market economy institutions and better solving State-market relations.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment has highly focused on developing science, technology and innovation as a basis to improve productivity, quality, performance and competitiveness of industries, fields and the whole economy. The ministry has accelerated economic restructuring, changed growth patterns, ensured substance and efficiency, gradually developed the digital economy; promoted rapid and sustainable growth on the basis of macroeconomic stability. It has developed infrastructure, regional economy and marine economy, taken urban areas as driving forces for regional development and accelerating rural construction. The agency has also paid attention to efficient management and efficient use of resources, environmental protection and response to climate change and natural disasters.

Integrating sustainable development goals into the Socioeconomic Development Strategy requires strong and effective coordination regime to ensure policy coherence, both vertically and horizontally. There is a need for enhancing the participation of stakeholders, the National Assembly, the Vietnam Fatherland Front and social organizations that play an important role in monitoring implementation and performing social criticism in delivering sustainable development goals.

Mr. Nguyen Hoang Nam - Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment

The application of circular economy will help countries to completely deal with economic development and environmental protection. The circular economy will allow us to no longer have to exchange a good environment for a good economy. According to UNICEP, this form of economy is the best approach to break the long-term connectivity between economic growth and negative environmental impacts.

In the circular economy, manufacturers focus on extending the shelf life and making the most of the utility of any resource, then managing and renewing these products and resources at the end of their life cycle. Thus, promoting the circular economy in which product recycling and reuse is accelerated will be an effective measure for Vietnam to reduce waste to the environment.

Currently, Vietnam has some circular economy models that have produced certain results such as ecological industrial parks in Ninh Binh, Da Nang and Can Tho. Recycled waste will become inputs for other industries, helping businesses save up to US$6.5 million a year. Typical examples the seafood byproduct processing model (shrimp shells, shrimp heads) that produces Chitosan and SSE, the zero waste to nature initiative launched by VCCI and the recycling of Tiger beer caps into iron for bridge construction in Tien Giang.

To develop the circular economy in Vietnam in the coming time, it is necessary to institutionalize and legalize the circular economy and apply this form of economy in all activities. The next step is to design materials right from the outset to maximize the circular process and ensure a higher material circularity.

Mr. Nguyen Quang Vinh - General Secretary of VCCI, General Secretary - Vice Chair of the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD)

The United Nations has adopted 17 sustainable development goals - the 2030 Agenda with the theme that no one is left behind. But the challenge remains of how to manage and build human resources appropriate for the new era as Vietnam enters a new decade of economic breakthrough.

The circular economy is considered a preeminent model because it creates profits and jobs on the one hand and brings in social and environmental values on the other, thus moving towards a green economy. The business role is demonstrated in the joint effort with governmental agencies for sustainable development.

The Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development will always stand shoulder to shoulder and serve as a platform for Vietnamese businesses to prepare good luggage, good “weapons”, good governance tools and especially innovative business ideas and apply science and technology to successfully deploy the circular economy. I think that the governmental role is still the most important in creating a favorable ecosystem for businesses to nurture and grow the circular economy for businesses.