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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

13 September 2023


Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to address this important forum on green growth toward sustainable development.

The topic is timely, given that our world is in a defining moment where the urgency of environmental challenges demands swift and resolute action.

As we meet here today, it is evident that the road to sustainable development is not without challenges, and nowhere are these challenges more pronounced than in the bustling urban landscape of megacities like Ho Chi Minh City.

For the past several years, countries have been coping with crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and climate change. These have not only caused severe health, socio-economic and environmental consequences in communities but also reversed years of progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Despite this, Viet Nam has managed to achieve remarkable successes in poverty reduction and economic development.

Based on our 2023 SDG Progress Report, Viet Nam has made significant progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including on Goal 1 (no poverty), Goal 3 (good health and well-being), Goal 6 (clean water and sanitation), Goal 7 (affordable and clean energy), Goal 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), Goal 10 (reduced inequalities) and Goal 12 (responsible consumption and production).  

Without a doubt, today's challenges are vast and interconnected, transcending borders and impacting us all. Climate change continues to exert a devastating influence, resulting in more frequent and severe weather events, rising sea levels and ecosystem disruptions.

The consequences of environmental degradation, rapid urbanization and unsustainable consumption patterns are evident, particularly in megacities where population growth, pollution, traffic congestion and waste management are pressing concerns.

To tackle them, we must embrace innovative strategies and collective action to forge a sustainable future that leaves no one behind.

For countries to continue with their progress, governments must now shift from a growth model of development based on physical capital accumulation and use of unskilled labour to one of sustainable development driven by skilled labour, innovation and environment-friendly practices.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Please allow me to outline some important policy priorities to develop a circular and green economy.

First, green growth entails achieving economic expansion in an environmentally sustainable manner. For megacities like Ho Chi Minh City, this concept offers several development trends that hold the potential to catalyze green growth and ensure a harmonious coexistence between urbanization and nature.

The transition to renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and hydropower, serves as a cornerstone to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Embracing sustainable transportation, including public transit, electric vehicles, cycling and walking, addresses air pollution and congestion challenges while fostering healthier and greener urban spaces. Furthermore, integrating energy-efficient designs, materials, and technologies in buildings significantly curtails energy consumption and carbon emissions, contributing to climate change mitigation.

Second, we need to manage natural capital in a sustainable manner. Creating a circular economy will optimize our resources for a sustainable future. We must encourage sustainable consumption through awareness and fostering responsible consumer behaviour to build circular ecosystems in megacities.

We must also embrace circular business models and practices, such as product-service systems and sharing economy platforms, which promote resource efficiency and waste reduction throughout the value chain.

Moreover, creating collaborative networks that involve businesses, governments and communities facilitates the creation of circular ecosystems, where resources are efficiently shared, reused and recycled, further promoting sustainable urban development.

Thirdly and vitally, we need to ensure public participation. Involving citizens, businesses and other stakeholders in decision-making processes fosters a sense of ownership and ensures that initiatives align with community needs. Implementing clear and consistent policies creates an enabling environment for green growth and circular economy initiatives.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,              

As we embark on this transformative journey towards sustainability, ESCAP stands ready to support Ho Chi Minh City in achieving its green growth and circular economy aspirations. 

Thank you very much.

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