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Remarks by Kamal Malhotra United Nations Resident Coordinator, Viet Nam at The Participation of International Organizations in Natural Disaster Management in Vietnam

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Event: The Participation of International Organizations in Natural Disaster Management in Vietnam

Date: June 20, 2019

Venue: Central level: National Conference Centre (Grand Ballroom), 11 Lê Hồng Phong, Ba Dinh, Hanoi, Viet Nam

  • Excellency Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc;
  • Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung;
  • Excellency Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Standing Vice Chair of the Central Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control;
  • Representatives from the National Assembly, line Ministries and provinces;
  • Representatives from mass organizations;
  • Colleagues from development partners, international financial institutions, UN agencies, mass organizations, NGOs and media agencies;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen;

I am honoured today to address the distinguished participants of the National Conference on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control, 2018 Search and Rescue Activities and Deployment of Future Tasks, on behalf of the United Nations in Viet Nam.

With over USD 8 million from the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund from 2016 to 2018, the UN in Viet Nam has in recent years had the unprecedented opportunity to assist more than half a million people addressing the most urgent and live-saving needs for water and sanitation, health, nutrition, food security, and shelter to ensure that those impacted can rebuild their livelihoods.

The UN and humanitarian partners are working with Viet Nam to implement lessons learned and improve the delivery of assistance by reinforcing the coordination frameworks for Disaster Response Management, such as implementing rapid, detailed Post-Disaster Needs Assessment, to enable a full disaster recovery framework. But we also recognize that speeding up the delivery and efficiency of assistance to the more vulnerable beneficiaries is a just one element of a very complex effort.

As we unfortunately move into a future which is likely to have more frequent and intense hazard events, I welcome the efforts of all key relevant partners who have gathered here today to learn from the past and to forge a stronger partnership for the future.

The UN in Viet Nam supports Viet Nam's initiative to form a partnership between the UN, the CCNDCP, MARD, VNDMA and other development partners including the private sector under the Sendai Framework. To this end, the UN Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience Joint Results Group has been working to support MARD's initiative of forming a partnership on DRR between the Government and development partners including the private sector. We stand behind this initiative to facilitate coordination on DRR for resilience, and to improve coherence of partners' support for DRR across different sectors and agencies, which is at the core of the Sendai Framework Targets and DRR-related SDGs.

The UN has a long-term commitment to its partnership with the Government, and we enjoy strong collaboration through the One Strategic Plan 2017-2021. Under the leadership of UNICEF and the vice-chairmanship of UNDP, the UN Joint Results Group on Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience brings together 10 UN agencies with a wide range of global experience and networks to support the efforts of Viet Nam. In addition, as the UN Resident Coordinator, I personally lead the UN Disaster Response Management Team, both in times of preparedness and at times of crisis.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I commend the commitment of Viet Nam to bring Disaster Risk Reduction to the heart of the national development agenda, as it gives due attention to a long-term and sustainable approach to addressing existing vulnerabilities. The shift in strategy from emergency response to disaster risk reduction, management and preparedness is taking place at the level of the country's top leadership and as a result, we are witnessing that shift at the local level as a key future priority.

An integral step in implementing the Sendai Framework are the national legal structures that support Disaster Risk Reduction and I would like to take this opportunity to commend the effort of the Government of Viet Nam in amending the Law on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control and recognize the enormous potential in this revision which allows us to take great strides toward strengthening disaster risk governance systems.

There are several areas where changes to the legal structure can have a particular impact and I would like to highlight some of these and extend an offer on behalf of the UN to support these efforts in any way we can. For example, Viet Nam has a long history in strengthening people-centered systems and approaches, as enshrined in the 2013 Constitution. The amendment of the Law on NDPC can help further ensure that the people are a central part of the system and are not only regularly updated with actionable information and are beneficiaries of support, but also play an active role in effective disaster risk management, preparedness, and humanitarian response.

Major natural disasters in recent years have highlighted that the most vulnerable people bear the brunt of the immediate and long-term impacts because natural disasters exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and disparities such as poverty, high incidence of severe acute malnutrition, poor hygiene and sanitation conditions as well as poor caring practices. The case of flash floods caused by a construction site in Phuoc Dong commune, Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa province in late 2018 is a tragic example, where we witnessed flashfloods that resulted in the deaths of 10 people.

The revised law is an opportunity to mandate relevant actors to identify and address the root causes and drivers of risks experienced in communities, including vulnerabilities due to age, economic status, gender, ethnic minority and migrant status.

The planned revision is an opportunity for Viet Nam to ensure that the law strengthens risk-informed approaches in national, sectoral and provincial Social-Economic Development Plans, so that Disaster risk reduction, preparedness and recovery in the context of Viet Nam is most strategically positioned within the long-term sustainable development agenda.

I would also highlight that women are often under-represented in all levels of the disaster risk management and response mechanisms of Viet Nam. There is a lack of capacity building for local staff on how to support vulnerable groups, especially women including poor, single-headed households, and those with family members and children with disabilities, and this law revision has the potential to further incorporate gender issues across all aspects of the law, ensuring in particular that women are well represented in the VDMA system and that their views are reflected in decision making at all levels.

Finally, the UN in Viet Nam would like to recognize the opportunity for the new law to ensure that the new provisions are aligned with international treaties and frameworks that Viet Nam has signed and ratified or is party to, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, international humanitarian laws, the SDGs and the Sendai Framework. Viet Nam's domestic legislation needs to be aligned with these international obligations as soon as possible if it isn't already. The new law should also be aligned with relevant recent national legislation, such as the Law on Children in order to support consistent enforcement.

On behalf of the UN, I would like to take this opportunity to renew our commitment to cooperating closely with the Government of Viet Nam and other stakeholders to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs through the implementation of the Disaster Risk Reduction partnership, and I offer our full support toward the revision of the Law on Natural Disasters.

The challenges ahead are formidable. And there is no time to lose. I am encouraged by your presence here today and particularly wish to acknowledge the contributions of the key ministries and governmental organs who are working on related matters from MARD, VDMA, CCNDPC as well as the Private Sector. I am proud and happy to conclude by reiterating that the UN in Viet Nam will remain a committed partner in supporting Viet Nam to put in place leading edge disaster risk planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation institutions and systems.

Thank you! Xin Cảm Ơn!