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On the 64th United Nations Day the UN Resident Coordinator a.i. talks about the challenge of climate change

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Flooding at a school in southern Viet NamHa Noi, 24 October 2009 - Today the United Nations celebrates the 64th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. In his UN Day message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the role of the United Nations in enabling a comprehensive, equitable and ambitious deal on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark, this December. In Viet Nam, Mr Jesper Morch, UN Resident Coordinator a.i., answered questions from the newspaper Thanh Nien Weekly about the UN position on climate change and Viet Nam:

1. What are the steps Viet Nam needs to take to cope with climate change and what is the UN doing to help the country?

Viet Nam is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and it must deal with these effects. Viet Nam also needs to generate more energy to ensure continued economic growth and poverty reduction. We believe that there are many ways to reduce the risks of climate change effects, which include sea level rise and stronger typhoons, floods and droughts. There are also many ways to ensure strong economic growth while minimizing the growth in greenhouse gas emissions, which are the cause of climate change. Responses to climate change can have multiple benefits. For example, improving energy efficiency can save money and improve competitiveness of industry, while adapting schools and hospitals to make sure that they are accessible during floods ensures that children are educated better and the sick recover faster. Viet Nam can do all that, but it needs support from developed countries that emit most greenhouse gases.

 

The 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (the UNFCCC) states that rich countries have contributed most to the causes of global climate change and should provide financial support to the developing countries that suffer many of the consequences. The UN facilitates international negotiations on the implementation of the UNFCCC, to make sure that the developed and developing countries reach a deal in Copenhagen in December on large-scale action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the effects of climate change. The UN supported Viet Nam’s formulation of the National Target Programme to Respond to Climate Change that was approved last year. We also support research on impacts of climate change, improved disaster risk management, and efforts to improve energy efficiency.

2. Developing countries are often pushed to use the same development models as the developed world (i.e. via privatization and industrialization), which can worsen environmental degradation and make climate change impacts more severe. What is the UN’s position on this?


There are many development models, and which is followed depends mainly on the governments of developing countries themselves. Currently there is a lot of international recognition that there is no “one size fits all” recipe for social and economic development. What is important is that lessons are learned across the different development paths of countries on, for example, how to improve social security, how to build up a skilled workforce, or on cost effective, clean production technologies and practices. The Government of Viet Nam and its international partners including the UN must ensure that international lessons and best practices are applied here.

The UNFCCC states that developed countries have financing responsibilities. If the climate negotiations are successful, the transfer of clean technologies to national industries in developing countries should be enabled by such additional financing.

3. Many multinationals from the developed world pollute the environment in developing countries in ways they couldn't get away with back home. What is the UN doing to ensure that "green development" is both affordable and profitable for developing countries?

Companies need all to adhere to national regulations, including those on pollution, independent of who owns the company. If enforcement of the rules is weak there is indeed likely to be evasion, and some companies may relocate to such countries. But there are many foreign-invested companies that are role models for domestic industry in terms of the production processes they employ, and more investors in “low carbon” and clean technology would come to Viet Nam if the domestic rules and enforcement of rules were improved further.

The UN has, for example, helped Viet Nam in formulating the Law on Environmental Pollution of 1995, and we are also involved in the clean-up of stocks of poisonous agrochemicals. The UN is supporting the development of clean industrial production technology and is encouraging “social responsibility” of enterprises. Right now the UN is supporting Viet Nam in engaging with the international climate change negotiations where one topic is financing for transfer of “low carbon” technologies. Success would mean that developing countries’ industries get better access to technologies for production of renewable energy and energy efficient production. This could help Viet Nam increase the rate of technological modernization, with many benefits such as cleaner air.

4. Lifestyle changes are needed to make headway on climate change. Yet development policies often promote a lifestyle that worsens climate change, e.g. policies that encourage the production and use of cars. What does the UN advise to address this situation?

It is critical to protect living standards in the developed world and to enable the developing world to attain the same living standards. But yes, there is a need for lifestyle changes everywhere and especially amongst affluent people in both rich and poorer countries. We need small behaviour changes such as switching off lights when you don’t need them, or bigger things, such as drastically limiting air travel. Lifestyle changes can be achieved with campaigns to raise awareness and influence behaviour, with taxes and financial incentives, and with regulation and good enforcement of rules.

But every global citizen has the right to a decent living standard and it is very reasonable that poor people in developing countries have the ambition to enjoy the same living standards as people in developed countries, including driving cars. Developing countries and their citizens have the right to development, and even though they are not the cause of the historic build up of greenhouse gasses that cause climate change, they are being asked to be part of the solution. This can only be achieved if two critical things happen.

First, developed countries must drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by taking all sorts of measures, including a rapid increase in the production of renewable energy, measures that ensure that the car industry produces cleaner vehicles, and other measures to reduce energy consumption. Even with existing technologies a lot is possible and some basic regulation could lead to both financial savings and environmental improvements.

Secondly, developing countries must take “nationally appropriate mitigation actions”, which are actions that help limit the production of greenhouse gases without diverting funds and capacities away from poverty eradication and wealth creation. Examples of this are the production and use of biogas, as is already happening in many places in Viet Nam, or improving the energy efficiency of public buildings, which is possible with small investments that could have major financial returns. Developing countries can also invest in costlier but cleaner energy production technology, but developed countries must commit to large-scale support of such actions.

5. One of the biggest dangers to the world’s food supply is the dominance of international agribusiness in agriculture, which undermines sustainable alternatives like organic farming. What does the UN think of this danger?

World food demand is increasing and climate change effects are already adding significantly to the stresses on agriculture, including to “granaries” such as the Mekong delta. International agribusinesses have very substantial research and development capacities that are needed to boost seed productivity and also resistance to pests, diseases and extreme climatic events. Their capacities are important for feeding the world. In the past their business interests have not always led them to focus on the needs of small farmers, and since they may also produce agrochemicals they are not usually supporting organic farming. But governments can regulate and make sure that crop varieties are developed and marketed that require few or no agrochemicals and that maximize both the security and productivity of small farmers in the more marginal production areas. It is also possible to develop collaborative programmes between national organizations and the international agribusinesses for nationally appropriate research and development of crop varieties. Similarly, the Government could reinforce links between national and international organizations that specialize in organic farming as well as marketing of organic produce because there is a growing group of domestic and international consumers interested in the safest possible produce.

6. Viet Nam’s pursuit of international integration and export-oriented growth has seen rising numbers of landless farmers, as the World Bank pointed out in a study last year. What is the UN suggesting on this issue?

The UN and national and international partners are very concerned about the phenomenon of landlessness, and yes, that is an effect of the process of transition from small-scale farming for self sufficiency and local markets to increasing investments and productivity, and producing for urban markets as well as for export. In fact, climate change effects such as further salt water intrusion also contribute to the problems. We are initiating research with Vietnamese partners to understand better how to address the problem and are already making recommendations based on international experiences.

We feel that the main responses should be to protect smallholders while also creating alternative employment opportunities. A few strategies stand out. The first is to support smallholders in protecting their agricultural and aquaculture production from floods, droughts, diseases and pests, and to increase their productivity. This can be achieved through investments in better water management systems and with targeted extension support, including training of farmers, especially women, because they have often not been reached in the past and yet are increasingly responsible for small-scale production. Also important is the supply of inputs such as improved drought, salt and/or flood-resistant crop varieties. The second is to ensure good primary and secondary education for all, and enhanced vocational training which enables young people to get jobs and start enterprises. This is all the more important in the Mekong Delta where statistics show that educational achievements in several localities are lagging behind the national average. Finally, we feel that it is important to enable migration of people, temporarily or permanently, to village centres, small towns and larger cities where they can run businesses or find employment and where they should get full access to public services such as health care and education for their children.

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See also: The UN Secretary General's Message on UN Day

Tiêu điểm

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NGÀY THẾ GIỚI PHÒNG CHỐNG AIDS NĂM 2017

 

Ngày 1 tháng 12 năm 2017

 

Michel Sidibé
Tổng Giám đốc UNAIDS
Phó Tổng thư ký Liên Hợp Quốc

Kỷ niệm ngày Thế giới phòng chống AIDS năm nay, chúng ta cùng nhau nêu bật tầm quan trọng của quyền về sức khỏe và những thách thức mà những người sống với HIV và người có nguy cơ cao lây nhiễm HIV còn đang phải đối mặt trong việc thực hiện quyền về sức khỏe.


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Trừng phạt khắc nghiệt đối với trẻ em vi phạm pháp luật không ngăn chặn được tình hình tội phạm người chưa thành niên tiếp tục gia tăng

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