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Speech by Patrick Gilabert, UNIDO Representative in Viet Nam, on World Environment Day

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Date: Sunday, June 5, 2011
Event: World Environment Day hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and the People's Committee of Bac Kan Province
Venue: Cultural House of Bac Kan Province

Your Excellencies, Prime Minister. Nguyen Tan Dung.
Your Excellency, Mr Pham Khoi Nguyen, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment,
Mr. Phan Van Mai Secretary of Youth Union Central Committee and Representatives of Youth Union members,
Mr. Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Secretary of Party Committee of Bac Kan,
Distinguished representatives from Bac Kan Province, Ministries, Agencies and localities,
Colleagues from the international community, Friends from the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor to be here today in Bac Kan province, home to Ba Be Lake, one of the 20 largest natural freshwater lakes in the world, to celebrate with you World Environment Day, under the theme of "Forests, Nature at Your Service" on behalf of the United Nations in Viet Nam.

This year, we are also celebrating the International Year of Forests to promote the central role of people in conservation and sustainable management and development of world forests.

Both themes call our attention to the urgent need of safeguarding forests for the well-being of nature and our economies.

Over-exploitation of forests, wildlife, and water resources undermine the stability of ecosystems and their ability to provide clean air, water and food for future generations.

The commitment of both the government and citizenry in forest protection is crucial for sustainable development. We can no longer take forests for granted nor can we allow the pursuit of economic gain to result in their degradation and disappearance.

We also need to be aware that forest products, including timber, wildlife and other biological resources are the object of illicit international trafficking, which has adverse environmental, social and economic impacts.

The UN has called upon member states to combat illicit trafficking of forest products. In Viet Nam we have been working closely with the Government to promote sustainable natural resource use and to build response capacity to climate change effects.

This past year, the UN supported Viet Nam in the process of preparing and developing policies and programmes to prepare Viet Nam for the implementation of REDD+. In this context, a study on a Benefit Distribution System funded by the UN-REDD Programme has provided policy options which will allow for more equitable distribution of benefits, compensate local people in their work to protect forests, and thereby effectively contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

We further commend the national government for promoting greater decentralization to support forest management. Decree 117, issued this past December, allows communities living around Special Use Forests to use and to protect natural resources so as to better integrate customary practices with conservation policy.

We would also like to thank the Viet Nam Central Youth Union, who co-organized the World Environment Day celebration here today, for demonstrating the growing awareness and promotion of concrete initiatives taken by Vietnamese youth in leading environmental action.
However, there is still much to be done to further the cause of environmental conservation in Viet Nam. We need to work together to improve natural resource planning and management for economic development and social benefit to ensure more sustainable exploitation of Viet Nam's ecological wealth. We also need to strengthen effective law enforcement measures to combat the illicit trafficking of forest products as part of comprehensive national measures for protecting national resources.

We have not only the duty, but also the responsibility to act for the well-being of our environment. Together, we can secure a better future for both ourselves and our children and see more prosperous, sustainable growth for all nations and peoples, and especially Viet Nam.

Thank you very much.

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