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International Day of Disaster Reduction Remarks by Ms. Akiko Fujii Vice-Chair of the UN Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience Joint Results Group, UNDP Deputy Country Director, Vietnam

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Event: International Day of Disaster Reduction

Date: October 12, 2018

Venue: Muong Thanh Luxury Hotel, Can Tho City

  • Mr. Nguyen Truong Son - Deputy Director General of VNDMA, Distinguished representatives from ministries and agencies, provinces, institutions and enterprises, development partners and colleagues;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen;

On behalf of the UN Country Team in Viet Nam I would like to welcome all national and international stakeholders to today's ceremony. We have come together today to celebrate how people and communities in Viet Nam have reduced their exposure to disasters and to share recent experiences of responses, prevention and control of the risks they face. This year, there is a special focus on one of the seven targets of the Sendai Framework - Target C, reducing disaster economic losses in relation to global GDP by 2030.

According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2018, Viet Nam ranks among the top 10 countries affected by the impacts of weather-related loss events. Since the 1970's disasters have caused more than 500 deaths annually in Viet Nam, and cost more than 1.5% of GDP in economic losses. Viet Nam's climate change nationally determined contribution highlights that these costs could well rise to 3-5% of GDP by 2030. Ensuring coastal resilience to climate induced natural disasters is not rhetoric, but a strong mandate to households, businesses, and authorities at all levels. As you are aware, the coastal areas of Vietnam are the breadbasket of the nation. Without a well-designed resilience framework, large-scale disasters will exacerbate economic losses.

The extensive El-Nino induced drought and salt water intrusion in 2015-2016, Typhoon Damrey in 2017 and flooding in 2018 highlight the devastating impacts of both slow and sudden-onset disasters in Viet Nam, with the most vulnerable groups such as the poor, children, women, and ethnic minorities among the most severely affected. Although Vietnam has made advanced improvements in humanitarian responses and relief, much is needed to fully understand the economic losses that arise from large-scale disasters.

With over USD 8 million from the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund from 2016 to 2018, the UN in Viet Nam had the unprecedented opportunity to support the Government, the Viet Nam Red Cross Society and NGO's 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. 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. We are witnessing a shift in disaster reduction strategy from an emergency response approach to an effective balance between disaster response and risk reduction through resilience building. This sound approach is at the core of the Sendai Framework 2030 of which Viet Nam is a committed member.

As we stand here today in the heart of the Mekong Delta, we are fortunate to have flood levels below level 2. If they should exceed level 3, many parts of this lush green beautiful delta will be submerged, affecting millions of people and causing tremendous economic losses to the people and to the national budget.

Meeting the challenges posed by the economic impacts of climate change and natural disasters requires risk-informed planning across sectors, levels of government, and organizations. It is important that individuals, ministries, and agencies from both public and private sectors take concrete actions to understand risks, address vulnerabilities and make development plans that take these risks into account. In the planning process, actions must be well funded and integrated into the development process of each sector, each province and finally of the nation. With long-term, risk-informed development planning, Viet Nam can put a brake on the ever-mounting economic impact of climate and disaster-related damages and losses.

Recognizing communication on disaster risks and response is another critical element in reducing potential losses, including economic losses and the UN has supported MARD through projects, such as the community-based DRR model, to empower people with the information they need to help protect themselves from natural disasters and climate change effects. Working in partnership, government can create an enabling environment for disaster risk reduction - empowering farmers and workers to better understand how disasters will impact them, ensuring that people have access to accurate and clear information, and promoting effective risk management approaches that can leverage public investment, but also private sector tools such as insurance.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

With predictions of 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. To this end, the UN Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience Joint Result 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.

Following the very effective contribution of Viet Nam to the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Mongolia, we are working with a clear picture on the situation of Viet Nam in the seven areas of the Sendai targets. Guided by the Action Plan 2018-2020 of the Asian Ministerial Conference, Viet Nam and the UN have identified five areas of national priorities:

  • First, finalization of national and local strategies on natural disaster prevention and control.
  • Second, integration of disaster risk factors into economic and social development planning and budgeting.
  • Third, strengthening the monitoring and evaluation of Sendai implementation in Viet Nam.
  • Fourth, building the capacity of local authorities, private sector and communities to develop and implement recovery plans.
  • And fifth, but not least, reinforcing the comprehensive school safety framework to build the capacity of teachers and students to prevent and control losses caused by disasters.

The challenge ahead is formidable. And there is no time to lose. I am encouraged to have your presence today, particularly the contributions of the key ministries who are working on related matters from MARD, VDMA, CCNDPC as well as the Private Sector. I am proud to say that the UN in Viet Nam is a committed partner to support Viet Nam to put in place leading edge disaster risk planning. I wish today's session every success and look forward to a lively and informative discussion.

Xin Cảm Ơn!