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Closing ceremony by Mr Kamal Malhotra, United Nations Resident Coordinator of the High-Level Forum on Realizing Economic Opportunities from Sustainable Management of Natural Forests

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Date: August 7, 2017
Event: High-Level Forum on Realizing Economic Opportunities from Sustainable Management of Natural Forests
Venue: Daewoo Hotel, 360 Kim Ma St., Hanoi, Viet Nam

Mr. Cao Duc Phat, Standing Deputy Head of the Party’s Central Committee for Economics;
Mr. Ha Cong Tuan, Vice-Minister of MARD;
Excellency Ms. Siren Gjerme Eriksen, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway;
Mr. Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment;
Colleagues from ministries, and international and national partnering organizations;
Distinguished guests,

I am honoured today to address the distinguished participants of this high-level forum, including the representatives of the Governments of Viet Nam and the Kingdom of Norway on behalf of the United Nations in Viet Nam.

The Warsaw Framework for REDD+ under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has established a robust and comprehensive framework for the effective and sustained implementation of REDD+ activities while aiming at environmental integrity and tangible results. Viet Nam has made significant progress towards integrating the Warsaw Framework for REDD+ into its new National REDD+ Action Programme in 2017, as well as incorporating lessons learned from implementation in pilot provinces. Viet Nam has mobilized high-level political support around its multi-sectoral vision for REDD+ and green development. I furthermore would like to congratulate the Government of Viet Nam for being in the forefront of reducing CO2, as it is among the most experienced countries globally to have pioneered REDD+ readiness and demonstration. Continued strong national ownership and support of REDD+ activities beyond the UN-REDD Programme in 2018 are now needed to maintain the current momentum.

There is also a need for transformation in the way Viet Nam values and organizes protection of its forests. Full forest values must be factored into national planning processes and mechanisms, and integrated into the national development agenda and its associated priorities. Building on the close partnership with the UN Country Team in the country, Viet Nam has made commendable progress in promoting more effective and multi-sectoral approaches to tackling deforestation. Directive 13 from the Party, the endorsement of the new National REDD+ Action Plan and the Target Programme on Sustainable Forest Development, together with the signature of the national agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade with the European Union, and the increased involvement of the private sector and local communities all converge to create a solid platform for transformation and progress, putting Viet Nam at the global forefront of sustainable forest management and protection.

Building on the words of my fellow colleagues, I would like to emphasize two key messages. First, a major transformation will be required to build an enabling environment for domestic and international businesses to thrive in and benefit from investing in sustainable natural forest developments. Past testimonies of private sector leaders have demonstrated that it is possible, but also that it will require a high level of ingenuity and face many indirect costs. The Government of Viet Nam and committed international and national partners will need to focus their attention on innovating and piloting new business models to build favourable conditions for success and upscaling. The recommendations provided today by colleagues and experts from MARD, MPI and MOF offer relevant scope and platform to engage the change. I encourage all stakeholders, including private sector organizations and representatives, to take the time and share valuable insights to help complete this exercise in a timely manner.

I acknowledge that implementing these solutions will take time and require a shift in mindset, and today’s discussions and statements have underlined that we still have a long way to go. Enterprises are calling for increased transparency and higher social and environmental standards to be enforced and we will need to find solutions that will allow smarter regulations to protect actors whose actions benefit society and who build value for the people and the environment instead of destroying it. Robust and strong partnerships must be built to take on the challenge to design such “smart regulations” and encourage businesses to invest in sustainable development of natural forests. The Government of Viet Nam will need to play a leading role and show the way for everyone else through concrete implementation, while making bold and courageous decisions. The private sector will also need to play its role as they have a critical social responsibility in raising awareness on opportunities and challenges of doing business in an era of climate change and a shift to more sustainable development. Flagship experience should be disseminated and inspire others, and allow the construction of new markets and opportunities, and support entrepreneurs at various stages of their development from start-up to when their businesses mature. This will require to connect needs with solutions, and mobilize a dynamic landscape of service providers to backstop forest business leaders.

Secondly, I would like to emphasize that the UN will remains an important strategic and committed partner of the Government of Viet Nam to further strengthen the sustainable management of forests in collaboration with the domestic and international business sector to achieve mutual benefits. This endeavour will require assembling and connecting partners and initiatives in different areas of expertise, a coordination task playing to the comparative strengths of the UN. Various UN agencies in Viet Nam are providing continued support to relevant ministries and National Assembly committees on existing legislation as well as the formulation of both new broad and more specific legal reforms in areas relevant to forests, land, planning, investment and business.

The UN-REDD Programme, jointly convened by FAO, UNDP and UN Environment and active in Viet Nam since 2009, has developed valuable partnerships with leading business companies and associations to pilot the implementation of social and environmental standards in programs related to forests, an initiative that is one of a kind. In addition, UN-REDD has longstanding experience in partnering with international and national organizations, including research centres, NGOs, and bilateral cooperation agencies to build a basis of knowledge and experience, and to connect key business players to find new and innovative solutions for supporting their development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The UN in Viet Nam, including the REDD+ leading agencies, i.e. FAO, UNDP and UN Envir6onment, as well as other UN agencies such as UNIDO, have a long-term commitment to their partnership with the Government, and are fully supportive of the agenda of realizing economic opportunities for sustainable management of natural forests through engagement and empowerment of the business sector.  

On behalf of the UN in Viet Nam, I would like to take this opportunity to renew our commitment to cooperate closely with the Government of Viet Nam, the Government of the Kingdom of Norway, the private sector and other related partners to accelerate progress towards achieving more sustainable management of natural forests under the REDD+ framework, and in realizing Viet Nam’s ambitious development goals.

Xin Cảm Ơn!