H.E. Pham Gia Khiem
Your Excellency, Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The world has undergone rapid changes since the Rio Summit. Globalization has become prevalent. Scientific and technological advances have become a strong momentum for development. The rich-poor gap within and among nations keeps increasing, and the global environment is degrading at an alarming pace. Sustainable development at both national and global levels is under serious threats. In reviewing the implementation of Agenda 21 over the past 10 years, at this Summit, it is essential that we draw experiences and lessons from both successes and failures in order to formulate an appropriate Plan of Implementation. The Vietnamese Delegation will do its utmost to contribute to the success of the Summit.
At the 1992 Rio Summit, the Vietnamese Government pledged to fully implement Agenda 21. Over the past ten years, in fulfilling such commitments, Vietnam has brought into full play the country's internal resources and actively integrated into the region and the world with a view to achieving rapid economic growth, social equality and environmental protection. In the implementation of the 10-year Strategy on SocioEconomic Stabilization and Development, the country's legal system and institutions for environmental protection, and its macro policies on socioeconomic development have been improved and perfected to meet these three important demands in line with the Rio Summit's goal of ensuring sustainable development. We have recorded important achievements in this connexion. Our country was able to get out of the lingering socio-economic crisis which began in the post-war period and has entered a new stage of stability and development. Its GDP for the year 2000 doubled that of 1990. During the past ten years, the poverty rate has fallen from over 30% to over 10% while literacy has increased to 93%. As a poor country, Vietnam's achievements in the fields of education, training and healthcare are at the level of more developed countries. In UN reports, its human and gender development indexes keep improving. The Vietnamese Government has decided to allocate 2.5 billion US dollars for the reforestation programme and to close all natural forests. By the year 2001, the Government has demarcated for protection 101 national ecological parks of biodiversity, cultural and historical heritages with a total area of 2.1 million hectares, accounting for 6 % of the country's territory. The forest coverage has increased to 33.2% of the natural area. Focus has also been given to the prevention of environmental pollution with a view to minimizing and effectively mitigating the consequences of environmental incidents.
In striving for sustainable development, however, we are still facing acute challenges such as the low level of economic, scientific and technological development, inadequate public awareness of the importance of environmental protection, financial constraints, and so on. Here, we would like to emphasize the urgent need for the mitigation of the lingering serious consequences caused to human beings and the environment by the 72 million liters of agent orange/dioxin used by the US during the Vietnam war. The Vietnamese Government calls upon the international community, for humanity and especially, the US Government, for its moral responsibilities and for people's right to life, to take concrete measures to provide material, technical and financial assistance for the mitigation of those consequences, especially to help the victims of agent orange/dioxin and their families.
To protect and preserve the environment on Earth for sustainable development, Vietnam is committed to strictly observing relevant international treaties. I wish to reaffirm our pledge to strictly comply with the principles adopted at the 1992 Rio Summit and express our endorsement of the recommendations by ASEAN to this Summit, especially those on increasing the ODA proportion for environmental activities up to 15%-20%, on upgrading the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with a view to better responding to the need of sustainable development, and on enhancing the effects of related international treaties
On behalf of the Vietnamese Government Delegation, I would like to express our sincere thanks to the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa for their excellent arrangements for the Conference and for our Delegation.
Thank you for your attention.