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Keynote Speech by Mr. Kamal Malhotra United Nations Resident Coordinator at Nation-wide Commencement Ceremony of Anti-plastic Waste Movement

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Event: Nation-wide Commencement Ceremony of Anti-plastic Waste Movement

Date: 9 June, 2019

Venue: Walking Area, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi Capital, Viet Nam

  • Your Excellency Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam;
  • Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung;
  • Excellency Mr. Nguyen Duc Chung, Chairman of Hanoi City People's Committee;
  • Excellency Mr. Tran Hong Ha, Minister of Natural Resources & Environment;
  • Distinguished Government representatives,
  • Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Xin Chao, Good morning everyone,

I am very pleased to be with you on behalf of the United Nations in Viet Nam at this peaceful and beautiful place and time to join the Nation-wide Commencement Ceremony of the Anti-Plastic Waste Movement. This event is commendable as we join communities around the Planet as they celebrated World Environment Day on 5 June and World Oceans Day on 8 June.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you know, plastic waste is now a major source of pollution affecting the environment, human health and well-being. It is also a major threat to coastal nations currently enjoying the economic benefits from fishing and aqua-culture. Strong attention has been paid to plastic pollution not only globally but also in Viet Nam.

Today, we produce about 300 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. That's nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population. In the next 10-15 years, global plastic production is projected to nearly double. Production is scheduled to reach 500 million tonnes by 2025 and a staggering 619 million tonnes by 2030.

In Viet Nam, it is estimated that 1.8 million tons of plastic waste are generated every year with plastic consumption increasing 16-18 per cent annually. Viet Nam is listed among the top 5 countries responsible for the estimated 13 million tons of plastic dumped in our oceans every year. Single-use plastics are everywhere and waste management capacity is limited in Viet Nam, leading to greater impacts from plastic waste on the environment and public health.

Meanwhile waste management, recycling facilities and relevant policies that facilitate them, are not in place to sufficiently respond to the increasing needs. One major concern on this issue is the lack of a system for waste segregation at source.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Under the Government's leadership led by Your Excellency Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, we are seeing increasing political momentum in combating Plastic Waste in many coastal provinces, as well as in the business sector.

The event today, together with many which happened this week across the country, have been good illustrations of collective actions by all of us to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time - such collective action is needed from governments, the private sector, as well as individuals in their roles both as citizens and purchasers of products.

Governments must lead by enacting strong policies to shift from the use of unnecessary single-use plastics to sustainable circular models of design and production, so that plastics can be used as a renewable resource rather than disposable waste. Robust legislation must be enacted to curb the production and use of unnecessary single-use plastics.

The private sector must innovate, adopting business models that reduce the downstream impacts of their products. Manufacturers must take responsibility for the pollution that their products are causing today and make investments in sustainable product design.

Citizens must act as both consumers and informed citizens to demand sustainable products, adopt sensible consumption habits and exercise their buying power by refusing single-use plastics.

Combating plastic pollution is crucial to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to which we all are committed. We encourage the Government of Viet Nam to promote a holistic circular economy approach and to adopt strong policies to address plastic waste pollution, promote sustainable and responsible business for resource-efficient and cleaner production, and ensure the design of products without pollutants.

The UN is committed to working side-by-side with the Government of Viet Nam, its public institutions, the private sector and local communities to reduce plastic pollution through technical assistance, policy advice and capacity building. Working together, we have forged strong partnerships to address this and many other environmental challenges.

It is heartening to see increased awareness and political momentum to reduce the impacts of plastics use. I commend the recent efforts taking place in Viet Nam to reduce the impacts of plastic pollution, including the environment campaigns ranging from Quang Ninh to Bac Lieu Provinces and the Business Forum recently held in Ho Chi Minh City. I also hope that the energy and enthusiasm we witness today can serve as a catalyst for lasting change in our thinking, our policies and our behaviour towards the use of plastic! Together we can build a cleaner, healthier, prosperous Viet Nam.

I wish you all good health, happiness, and sustainability!

Thank you! Xin cảm ơn!