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Oct 23, 2022 / 16:08

Vietnam makes a remarkable journey of development: UN Secretary-General

Vietnam has come a long way, and the journey continues to make the country once again a powerhouse for change that leaves no one behind.

“A story of transformation and hope has been written by the Vietnamese people,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said during his visit to Vietnam on October 21-22.

 United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres talks with Vietnamese peacekeepers in Hanoi on Oct 21. Photos: Baoquocte

Today, Vietnamese peacekeepers are coming to the aid of people in some of the most desperate parts of the world despite being ravaged by war, isolated, and on the brink of famine little more than a generation ago, António Guterres said during the visit made at the invitation of Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Thousands of miles from home – in places such as the Central African Republic – Vietnamese women and men are risking their lives to bring others peace, hope, and a chance for a better life, Guterres said.

“That is the journey we celebrate – from conflict to peace, from aid to self-sufficiency, from poverty to development,” he made the remarks at the 45th Anniversary of Vietnam’s Membership in the United Nations (1977-2022), calling the Vietnam-UN relations “a strong partnership.”

According to him, on today’s global stage, Vietnam is not only an important contributor to UN peacekeeping for contributing twice the world average of women peacekeepers. The country, in addition, has been elected to the Security Council twice and adopted the first-ever Presidential Statement on upholding the UN Charter. As Chair of ASEAN, Vietnam has advanced cooperation and integration across Southeast Asia.

Regarding development, the Vietnamese economy is one of the fastest-growing in the world. Meanwhile, extreme poverty, hunger, disease, and child mortality have plummeted. Literacy rates and access to health care, education, electricity, and safe drinking water have all grown, along with family incomes. It has also addressed environmental degradation and pollution and enhanced participation in the growing green economy.

“These are remarkable human rights and development achievements,” Guterres said, adding that Vietnam achieved and exceeded most Millennium Development Goals in some cases.

 United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, UN senior officials, and Vietnam's top leaders at a ceremony in Hanoi to celebrate the 45 years of the UN-Vietnam cooperation. 

Brighter future

The UN's top leader praised the Southeast Asian country for its policies that “place people at the heart of development.”

“As we look to the future, this will be vital to writing the next chapter in Vietnam’s development success story,” he stressed.

Vietnam has generated more decent jobs for women and young people through the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions, turned the tide on growing income inequality, advanced human rights, and strengthened the rule of law.

The country’s most recent accomplishment is the election to the Human Rights Council last week. The election is named “a reminder of the obligations of every member state”, and the UN looks forward to deepening its work with Vietnam for peace, sustainable development, and human rights for all.

According to António Guterres, the pioneering attitude, ingenuity, willingness to accept responsibility, and devotion to service of Vietnamese youth have made the most impression on him.

 United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in Hanoi. 

Challenges ahead

Developing economies, like Vietnam, have been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic and are facing an avalanche of other crises. With over 3000km of coastline and many low-lying cities and delta regions, Vietnam is on the frontlines against climate catastrophe.

Nearly a quarter of Vietnam’s citizens live in the Mekong Delta, the country’s agricultural and industrial heartland and one of the most vulnerable places in the world, which is exposed to rising sea levels, saltwater intrusion, flooding, and changing rainfall intensity.

“Without much more concerted global climate action, over one million Vietnamese could be pushed into poverty in this decade alone,” the UN Secretary-General warned.

It’s estimated that the staggering economic costs of climate damage in Vietnam could rise fifty-fold by 2050.

Vietnam is stepping up with a bold decision to accelerate its coal phaseout and jumpstart the renewables revolution to achieve net zero by 2050. But it needs support to speed up this transition and accelerate the green economy.

In this regard, Vietnam seeks coalitions of support to help key emerging economies unlock major emissions cuts. The coalitions, which should include developed countries, financial institutions, and those with the technical know-how, are called Just Energy Transition Partnerships.

Guterres believed that Vietnam is leading the way as it’s pioneering a new framework of collaboration to deliver a fair, inclusive energy transition towards renewables. “Your leadership through the Just Energy Transition Partnerships has already set unprecedented levels of coordination in motion both within the Vietnamese government and with partners,” he noted.

But success will also require a whole-of-society approach with youth, civil society, and the private sector working side-by-side with the government and the National Assembly in open and honest dialogue.           

For the next chapter of cooperation, Guterres pledged that the United Nations is ready to ask the international community to fully engage to support the courageous decision by Vietnam to reach carbon neutrality in 2050.  

“And you can count on my personal engagement to push your partners to deliver the investments, the technical support, and the finance that is needed at speed, at scale, and at concessional levels,” he emphasized.

“The United Nations is proud to be your partner, every step of the way,” Guterres stated.

During the two-day visit to Vietnam, António Guterres met Vietnamese top leaders namely General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Nguyen Phu Trong, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Chairman of the National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue, and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.  

This visit paid by a UN Secretary-General is the fourth of its kind, behind the first paid by Boutros Ghali in 1993, the second by Kofi Annan in 20006, and Ban Ki-moon in 2015. 

During the visit, António Guterres had a tour of iconic historical places in Hanoi, including the Temple of Literature – Quoc Tu Giam, Thang Long Imperial Citadel, and Ngoc Son Temple, the famous and cultural relics of Hanoi.

He also visited Green One UN House, the place is home to dozens of the UN bodies, serving as a model for sustainable construction in Vietnam and demonstrates how innovative design and sustainable management practices for existing buildings can lay the foundations for meeting many of the Sustainable Development Goals

The venues are all cultural and historical icons that represent the essence of Hanoi, making this a cultural activity on the itinerary of the UN Secretary-official General's visit to Vietnam. These places are also essential stops for both domestic and international visitors to the city.