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National Conference on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control Search and Rescue in 2022: Remarks by Ms. Caitlin Wiesen, United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i, Viet Nam

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Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the National Steering Committee on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control (NSCNDPC), Mr. Le Van Thanh;

Excellency Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and Deputy Chairman of NSCNDPC, Mr. Le Minh Hoan;
Representatives from Ministries, provincial People’s Committees,

Colleagues from development partners and international organisations,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the United Nations in Viet Nam, development partners, international organisations and members of the Disaster Risk Reduction Partnership, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Government of Viet Nam and the National Steering Committee for this opportunity to further enhance our partnership in disaster risk reduction in Viet Nam. We highly appreciate and commend the Government’s continued efforts in strengthening its partnership with the UN and the development partners in the field of disaster risk management.

Throughout 2021, UN agencies along with the development partners, international organsations and civil society organizations worked closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Development (MARD) and the Vietnam Disaster Management Authority (VNDMA), under the leadership of the Government and the National Steering Committee, to assist those who were negatively impacted by multiple risks of natural hazards, COVID-19 and climate change. A study carried out by the UN provides evidence that a number of small businesses did not make it through the pandemic, especially because they did not receive timely support. This highlights the importance of reviewing social assistance systems, business continuity planning and insurance for MSMEs.

Viet Nam is one of the top 10 countries that are most vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. Several serious and historical disaster events occurred, causing severe socio-economic impacts, such as: the drought and saltwater intrusion in the Mekong Delta, and large-scale floods and storms in Central Region in 2020.

In 2021, government reports indicated that due to natural disasters over 100 people were killed or went missing and thousands of houses were destroyed. Early March this year, unexpected strong winds and sea surges in Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa provinces destroyed livelihoods of local people, especially thousands of local fishermen who lost their fishing boats and equipment, while floods in Hue caused extensive damages. In all of these events, children, older people, people with disabilities, women, girls and poor households were often most affected. Displacement and destruction that accompany disasters often puts women and girls at high risk of multiple forms of gender-based violence (GBV). Despite great efforts of all stakeholders, including government agencies, the protection of GBV victims requires further attention.

Over the past three decades, climate-related disasters in Viet Nam have caused an average estimated direct annual loss of between 1 and 1.5 per cent of GDP. If we consider indirect losses caused by these disaster events, the impact will be much larger. Estimates indicate that cost of adapting to the changing climate in Viet Nam is likely to be around 3% of GDP by 2030.

From our work in the country and lessons learned from international experience, we are seeing how climate change combined with other health-related risks can severely jeopardize development gains. These hazards also serve to intensify existing vulnerabilities and disparities among ethnic minority communities, marginalized and poor families, as well as women, children, youth, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

To reduce disaster risks, the UN, together with the development partners and other stakeholders, we have worked closely with line ministries and Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority under MARD in various areas, including the following:

  • Implementing disaster response, recovery, risk reduction and climate adaptation programs, including in the Mekong Delta region. This included provision of valuable and urgently needed financial resources, in addition to the main public resources mobilized by the Government.
  • Providing technical assistance to strengthen the country’s disaster risk management capacities at different levels. We have also supported the application of Viet Nam’s first Provincial Disaster Management Indicators (PDMIs) in 2021 and contributed to amendments of the law on disaster management and law on dykes, which have been in effect since July 2021.
  • Strengthening government Disaster Monitoring and Information System, through improved spatial data on population and development. As a result, the system can now provide useful and updated information for the development of necessary interventions, and we will continue this effort in 2022.
  • Contributing to improved public awareness of disaster and climate risks through implementation of meaningful knowledge dissemination events and awareness-raising programs at both national and local levels.
  • Improving preparedness and response capacities of households and communities, especially the most disaster-prone locations of the country, through such community-level initiatives as school contests on disaster risk reduction, building resilient houses, and trainings of Disaster Response Teams.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Looking forward, allow me to highlight six specific areas where we could further strengthen our partnership with ministries, VNDMA and state agencies under the leadership of the Government and National Steering Committee:

  1. It is imperative that Viet Nam continue to develop an effective and dedicated Disaster Risk Management institution in the coming years and decades. We will continue to provide technical assistance to relevant ministries and VNDMA on Disaster Risk Reduction policies and institutional capacities at national and local levels, building on substantive investment made over the past few decades. Implementation of the national level policies and laws at the local level will be critical, requiring dedicated fiscal and human resources. Involvement of young people in disaster and climate risk management, as stipulated in the newly approved Youth Law, will also be important.

  2. Risk-informed development is vital for building resilience of households, communities and businesses. Vulnerability and risk data repository are essential steps to facilitate the identification of medium to long-term risk reduction measures, including risk transfer solutions such as disaster risk insurance. Improved financial preparedness for major disaster events and resilience-building approach are especially important with the compounding climate crisis and health-related risks.

  3. We need to strengthen the use of Information Technology and Artificial Intelligence for more responsive information management system. We will continue help strengthen the national and provincial capacities in the application of science and technology, so that timely and quality data can be provided for swift and effective decision-making in disaster risk management in Viet Nam. Achieving important targets of the new 10-year Community-Based Disaster Risk Management program (up to 2030) will be important to strength community resilience.

  4. We must intensify green investment in Disaster Risk Reduction and resilience-building. Essential public services must be climate-smart and disaster-proofed, including water, sanitation and hygiene systems, social protection, health, nutrition and education services, to protect children, communities, and the most vulnerable, particularly women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

  5. The humanitarian-development nexus is central to strengthening long-term resilience to climate-related risks and disasters, particularly in the context of COVID-19. Enhancing preparedness, improving cross-sectoral coordination, strengthening capacities, and ensuring synergized disaster and climate risk management planning, especially at the provincial and local levels, will all contribute to enhanced disaster and climate resilience.

  6. We will continue our support and further enhance partnerships with the Government and key stakeholders, including civil society organizations, the private sector, media agencies and vulnerable communities, contributing to achieving important targets of Agenda 2030, as well as implementation of COP26 commitments and Glasgow Climate Pact. The UN System will also provide support to Viet Nam to review its achievement and commitments to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, with the final report expected to be shared with UN Headquarters later this year.

Allow me to conclude by thanking the Government and the National Steering Committee for your leadership and for the opportunity to work with government institutions, local authorities and vulnerable communities.

I would like to reiterate our commitment to continue deepening the support from the UN, development partners, International organisations and Disaster Risk Reduction Partnership members in Viet Nam in the complex and multi-dimensional area of disaster and climate-related risks which is vital to building a vibrant, resilient, sustainable Viet Nam where No One is Left Behind.

Thank you! Xin cảm ơn!