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Sustainable development tops Vietnam’s Agenda 21

The Donor Group Forum (MDGF) Meeting on sustainable development in Vietnam was held in Hanoi on Thursday by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Present at the meeting were Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dzung, UN Resident Co-ordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam Jordan Ryan, ambassadors and representatives from foreign donor groups in Vietnam.

Addressing the meeting, Deputy PM Nguyen Tan Dzung said over the last decade of its renovation process, Vietnam has overcome many difficulties and challenges and gained significant achievements in almost all socio-economic areas while firmly preserving socio-political stability.

During the period, institutions of a market economy have been established; the legal and policy frameworks have been continuously improved; the economic growth rate has always been maintained in the order of about 7 percent per year; the economy has been restructured in a strong and positive manner; the share of industry and construction in GDP in 2003 reached 40 percent compared with 29.7 percent in 1996; exports have increased, on average, by over 20 percent per year.

Vietnam has moved from an agricultural-based economy which was a net food importer to the second largest food exporter in the world. The per capita GDP has increased from US$329 in 1996 to US$548 in 2004. The country is trying its best to become an official member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Regarding employment, Mr Dzung said that Jobs were created for about one million people each year in the 1996-2002 period and one and a half million each year in the 2001-2004 period.

Tremendous achievements have been recorded in poverty reduction. The percentage of poor households was reduced from 58 percent in 1993 down to 29 percent in 2002 and estimated to go further down to just about 8.3 percent in 2004.

In 2000, the national standards of literacy and universal primary education were achieved throughout the country. More than 90 percent of the population had access to healthcare services and around 60 percent of rural households had access to clean water, Mr Dzung noted.

"In recognition of such important achievements, besides the extraordinary efforts of all Vietnamese people, the Vietnamese Government would like to sincerely thank and highly appreciate the enormous support and valuable assistance of the international community and organisations through bilateral and mutil-lateral co-operation," Mr Dzung stressed.

However, the Deputy PM also mentioned some shortcomings and weaknesses in social resources distribution, competitiveness, science and technology development and environment protection.

"To help Vietnam escape from poverty, redressing shortcomings and weaknesses and fulfil its international commitments while overcoming difficulties and challenges to ensure balanced and effective implementation of the country’s sustainable development goals in the 21st century, Vietnam has recently issued a "National Strategic Orientation for Sustainable Development in Vietnam" (or Vietnam’s Agenda 21)," Mr Dzung said.

Vietnam’s Agenda 21 designs broad directions as a legal basis for the sustainable development process in Vietnam and identifies nineteen priority areas in the 2004-2010 period, with a special focus on achieving fast and effective economic development further reducing poverty, generating jobs, ensuring social equity and paying due attention to health, education and human development.

The Vietnamese Government will organise a national conference on the implementation of Vietnam’s Agenda 21 and instruct ministries, provinces and cities to formulate and implement their own action plans on sustainable development.

"In order to achieve sustainable development according to Vietnam’s Agenda 21, the Vietnamese Government greatly looks forwards to receiving continued co-operation and assistance from the international community and friends", the Deputy PM concluded.

VOV - (22/10/2004)

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