SDG momentum can be enhanced

November 16, 2023 | 15:32
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This year marks the mid-point for implementing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, but progress is far from perfect. Le Viet Anh and Nguyen Thi Thanh Nga from the Department of Science, Education, Natural Resources, and Environment under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, explain what Vietnam has to do to achieve its 2030 targets.
SDG momentum can be enhanced
Le Viet Anh (left) and Nguyen Thi Thanh Nga

A United Nations report in April on progress towards its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) warned that many of the goals are way off track.

On a global level, according to a preliminary assessment of around 140 targets, only about 12 per cent are on track. Nearly half of the targets are moderately or severely off track, and approximately 30 per cent have either stagnated or regressed below the 2015 baseline.

Under current trends, in 2030, 575 million people will be living in extreme poverty; 84 million children will be out of school, and of those in school, 300 million will leave unable to read and write. Renewables will make up a mere fraction of global energy supplies, 660 million people will live without electricity, and nearly two billion will have no access to clean cooking.

However, Vietnam is making progress. The multidimensional poverty rate declined from 9.2 to 4.3 per cent between 2016 and 2022. Some 98.3 per cent of households using improved water sources in 2022, from 93.4 per cent in 2016.

Expanded investments in infrastructure, export-oriented industrialisation, and enabling environment for innovation contributed to progress; while continued progress was made in job creation, expansion of social protection, and enhanced support for vulnerable groups.

The rate of population and organisations showing their satisfaction with public services increased from 80.9 to 87.2 per cent in 2017-2021.

After approximately three decades of global and regional integration, being a responsible member of the international community, Vietnam has secured solid improvements in a vast number of its development goals

The country needs to maintain the pace of progress. For the remaining targets, it has made important progress; for example, there has been a reduction of child mortality and over 92 per cent of the population had health insurance in 2022. The rate of transition from primary to lower secondary schools was 99.9 per cent, and the percentage of students graduating from lower secondary schools was 98.1 per cent in 2022. The percentage of households with access to electricity was 99.5 per cent in 2022.

Vietnam stands out for fast recovery from the pandemic, with a GDP growth of 8.02 per cent in 2022 while maintaining a low unemployment rate. The population living in temporary houses declining from 2.6 to 0.9 per cent between 2016 and 2022. It also continues to advance its net-zero commitments, and the country is making fantastic steps in meeting its SDGs.

SDG momentum can be enhanced
SDG momentum can be enhanced, Source: Shutterstock

Supportive environment

The strong results achieved in implementing SDGs in Vietnam come from many factors. Firstly, Vietnam has created a policy system and supportive environment. General policies in Vietnam have been issued promptly, including the National Action Plan to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; government resolutions; statistical indicators to monitor development; guidance on integrating SDGs into socioeconomic development plans; and much more.

At the same time, policies across sectors/fields have fully integrated towards the country’s targets, well-integrating disadvantaged groups such as the poor, ethnic minorities, children, and women to ensure no-one is left behind, with global goals and commitments on protecting the environment, natural resources, biodiversity and response to climate change.

Secondly, Vietnam has mobilised the entire political system, society, and people’s community to implement its objectives effectively. Accordingly, the National Assembly and the government play a leading role in implementing the SDGs nationwide, while the business community, social organisations, and development partners accompany and join hand to implement these aims.

Thirdly, monitoring, supervising, and evaluating these aims are organised regularly to provide timely directions and solutions to overcome shortcomings, and limitations and boost the implementation of the UN objectives.

However, besides the achievements, there are still many difficulties and slow progress such as on sustainable production and consumption patterns; on conservation and proper use of the oceans; and on protecting and developing forests, and biodiversity conservation.

In addition, the pandemic along with global fluctuations over the last three years has greatly affected the implementation of socioeconomic-related targets on health, education and on economic growth.

SDG momentum can be enhanced

Key solutions required

With only seven years left to complete the SDGs successfully, the UN calls on countries to recommit to transformative actions and accelerate them nationally; promote specific and integrated actions and to end poverty, reduce inequality, and end war; and strengthen national and local capacity, accountability and public institutions.

The country must also mobilise resources and investments needed for developing countries, and facilitate the continued strengthening of the UN system and enhance the capacity to address emerging challenges and address gaps and weaknesses.

To accelerate the process in the remaining half of the journey, Vietnam must focus on several groups of solutions. It must improve the quality of socialism-oriented market economy institutions; strengthen the effectiveness of policy implementation through public admin reform; and promote participation of the vulnerable in decision-making. It is also crucial to continue to prioritise investment in human resource development, sci-tech, and innovation; as well as modernise and synchronise economic and social infrastructure to improve productivity and promote sustainable growth.

The economy must also be stabilised to support post-pandemic recovery, and to mobilise and use financial resources efficiently for sustainable development.

Added to this, reforms of the social security system are needed to boost the resilience to shocks, support the vulnerable, and facilitate social and cultural development. There has to be efficient management and use of resources to strengthen environmental protection, climate change adaptation, and mitigation of natural disasters to promote the green and circular economy.

Finally, it is critical to strengthen international cooperation; improve availability of data to strengthen the evaluation of the set goals; and to raise awareness and promote cooperation among different stakeholders to accelerate and ensure inclusive and universal SDG implementation.

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By Viet Anh and Thanh Nga

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