[Opening] UN Viet Nam Common Country Analysis 2021: Multi-Stakeholder Consultation

Opening remarks by Kamal Malhotra United Nations Resident Coordinator, Viet Nam

  • Representatives from government, academia, NGOs, other development partners and community-based organizations,
  • UN Representatives and colleagues,
  • Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to see you all today gathered in one room and online, representing the voices and opinions of the key stakeholders of the UN from government bodies and ministries as well as from NGOs, grassroot organizations, and from national and international partners. On behalf of the UN in Viet Nam, I warmly welcome you and thank you for joining us today to consult on and discuss the emerging findings of the United Nations Common Country Analysis, or CCA which will be finalized in the first quarter of 2021.

In March this year, the UN in Viet Nam initiated the Common Country Analysis process which is the UN system’s independent, impartial and collective assessment of a country’s situation for its internal use in developing the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, its cooperation strategy with the government. Our current such framework, or One Strategic Plan as it is known in Viet Nam, concludes on December 31st 2021 and the current CCA process therefore is to inform the next Cooperation Framework, or One Strategic Plan for the 2022 to 2026 period.

The new generation of the UN’s Common Country Analyses for different countries are intended to be living documents and a repository of impartial and independent evidence based analyses which succinctly capture a particular country’s development landscape to ensure that no one is left behind. They can, therefore, be updated as and when the situation in a country demands it and are expected to be reviewed annually.

Working towards arriving at an initial comprehensive CCA report for Viet Nam, in the last few months, the UN, under my leadership and in coordination with UN agencies operating in Viet Nam, has been compiling, distilling and consolidating information, evidence and analysis on an array of development issues in Viet Nam. Today, we will present to you our main, strategic findings thus far to obtain your feedback on them and identify areas of gaps and needs for more nuanced or better analysis. We will then take your relevant feedback, comments, ideas and suggestions into account as we formulate the final CCA report to be finalized in the first quarter of 2021. As I have indicated this will not be written in stone for the next five years, but will be reviewed, at least annually, to determine if it needs updating.

It has turned out to be particularly important and meaningful that we embarked on a Common Country Analysis this year since we are experiencing the current turbulence of a global COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 has been a tough year for the whole world. Although Viet Nam has been one of the safest countries during this time from a health perspective, many people even in Viet Nam have suffered or died and continue to do so globally due to COVID-19. Many of these individuals are people who we, as the UN, consider as being particularly vulnerable to these types of shocks and crises. In Viet Nam, despite the swift, effective and timely response from the Government, the first, second and third COVID-19 waves have undeniably left a clear footprint on Vietnamese society.

In its recovery efforts, the government and people of Viet Nam have demonstrated great resilience to the impacts of COVID-19. As reflected in the recently published joint UN report: UN Assessment on Social and Economic Impact of COVID-19 in Viet Nam that was launched in September, Viet Nam demonstrated a consistent and strong public health response. Moreover, despite the fact that Viet Nam’s economy has experienced a steep downturn due to its dependency on and the high contributions of international tourism, FDI, exports and overseas remittances which have all been negatively impacted by COVID-19, the country’s economic growth is on the rise once again, albeit at a modest pace of 2-3 per cent GDP growth in 2020, still about the best result for the Asia-Pacific region and amongst the best in the world.

Yet, the pandemic has forced us to re-examine the vulnerability and strengths of the country. It has also forced us to think long and hard about how to protect the most vulnerable amongst us such as women, children, the poor, the elderly, those living with disabilities and migrant workers to name just a few vulnerable population groups. How do we capitalize on the emerging mega global and other trends, comparative advantages and changing landscapes to encourage inclusive and resilient growth that equips all of us to withstand crises and shocks that are increasingly becoming a feature of our modern times? This is an important question that I believe is a critical one to consider for the future.

Advancing technology for SDG acceleration, building resilience in the health sector and capitalizing on the dynamic youth demographics are obvious low-hanging fruit that will accelerate sustainable growth for Viet Nam and its people. But it is becoming increasingly clear from the evidence that creative innovation and adaptation along with increased social investment will also be essential if Viet Nam is to both attain and sustain genuine emerging market status in the next two decades, in a manner that is inclusive and green.

Observing first-hand such a fast evolving crisis unfold and supporting the Government through the WHO and other UN agencies to contain it has given the UN in Viet Nam a bird’s eye view of Viet Nam’s current and emerging strengths and future challenges. The Common Country Analysis draws on our understanding of these and, we believe, reflects the vulnerabilities that have actually materialized or been exacerbated for certain groups as a result of COVID-19. It is in this context that we are now also faced with the task of reviewing the progress made over the last five years of our One Strategic Plan (2017-2021) in our effort to identify the remaining gaps and challenges impeding the achievement of the SDGs, and Viet Nam’s wider development ambitions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before you commence your discussions, I would like to highlight some important trends and developments from the political, economic, social and climate-related perspectives.

In 2020, Viet Nam became a crucial player on the regional and international stage. It has successfully carried out its ASEAN chairmanship this year. Viet Nam also joined the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member for the 2020-2021 term and served as the President of the Security Council in January. It will do so again in April 2021. With support from the UN, the Government of Viet Nam will host a major global Women, Peace and Security event in early December in support of its Security Council role—the only one in the Asia-Pacific—which will seek to reinforce and enhance women’s participation in peace and security in the region and beyond.

The Communist Party of Viet Nam is scheduled to hold its 13th Congress in early 2021 to elect the Party leadership for the next five years. Among other opportunities, this process presents an opportunity to progress the gender balance in the political sphere. Over the last few years, Viet Nam has secured a high participation of women in the National Assembly but as the Government has noted, there is still room for improvement.

In terms of its economic outlook, Viet Nam continues to push towards eliminating poverty, and yet gaps and discrepancies remain. Poverty remains prevalent in mountainous and ethnic minority areas and the COVID-19 pandemic has not helped matters. Millions of people have lost their jobs and income, especially those in the “missing middle” and on the breadline and those reliant on informal sources of income. And recovery, although relatively buoyant in some sectors, is heavily concentrated in specific sectors. It is expected that this recovery will take some time to trickle down to those on the margins, those living in rural areas and those disenfranchised by chronic poverty.

Looking at social development, Viet Nam has also observed remarkable social improvements accompanied by a significant demographic transformation. Improvements in health and education have been notable and allowed more people to access basic services for a better quality of life, regardless of wealth. However, again, there exist barriers resulting in patchy access to inclusive social services and general well-being, most notably nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, health, social protection, elderly care and education.

Colleagues,

Viet Nam is recognized as one of the world’s ten most vulnerable countries to climate change. The recent storm and floods have been devastating and have reinforced the urgent need to strengthen the country’s climate resilience. Besides extreme weather events, saltwater intrusion in the Mekong Delta region, the management of natural resources such as land and soil as well as waste and pollution are emerging areas which will require huge sums of money and commitment to resolve, not only to preserve the country’s precious biodiversity for future generations, but also for the preservation of human lives, here and now.

As I indicated earlier in these remarks, the Common Country Analysis requires independence and impartiality but should be evidence-driven. And this is where your presence today provides value-addition as we begin refining, expanding and strengthening the analysis and finalizing the 2021 Viet Nam Common Country Analysis (CCA) report. Today we seek your insights, perspectives and expertise to examine key issues in four focus areas – people-centered social development; economic transformation, environment and climate change, and governance and justice. We also invite your views on critical cross-cutting issues including gender equality, youth, and partnerships as well as the assessment of Viet Nam’s commitments to international norms and standards. Finally, we request your insights on cross-boundary and regional issues as well as financing for development.

Today’s consultation is a unique multi-stakeholder platform organized by the UN with high commitment to leaving no one behind in the journey towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in Viet Nam by 2030. As I mentioned at the beginning, your thoughts, ideas, comments and inputs will contribute to shaping a useful CCA that captures the experiences and trends that you have encountered in both your life and your area of work. On behalf of the UN, I invite you to support the improvement of our initial analysis to ensure a CCA that is fit-for-purpose and which best reflects the realities of the citizens of Viet Nam and people on the ground.

Again, I welcome you and wish you a fruitful and successful consultation today.

Thank you! Xin cảm ơn!

Speech by
Author
Kamal Malhotra
UN Resident Coordinator
RCO
KM profile
UN entities involved in this initiative
RCO
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office