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|Carrying out sufficient climate action is one of the official goals Vietnam is making top advancements in, Photo: Dung Minh|
Vietnam is expected to achieve at least five of the 17 goals (SDGs) by 2030 on poverty, hunger, quality education, climate action, and global partnerships, according to the 2020 National Report on the 5-year implementation of the country’s targets released by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) in Hanoi last Thursday. The report makes a vital contribution to the SDG database and implementation monitoring and evaluation process.
However, it noted the country would face multiple challenges to reach the remainder, especially in responsible consumption and ocean conservation.
Among the SDGs that Vietnam has committed to, Goal 17 on strengthening the means of implementation and revitalising global partnerships for sustainable development is one of the biggest successes thus far. The goal consists of five pillars: promoting a universal and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization; striving to reach an export growth rate of over 10 per cent per annum; enhancing policy coherence for sustainable development; boosting global partnerships for sustainable development; and encouraging and promoting effective public partnerships and private partnerships.
“At a global level, Vietnam’s ranking on SDG performance has continuously improved, rising from 88th in 2016 to 49th last year. Among ASEAN countries, in 2020 Vietnam trailed behind only Thailand, which ranked 41 out of 166 countries,” read the report.
In spite of having achieved some progress before the pandemic emerged, the world has faced difficulties on the road towards completing the SDGs by the end of the decade.
Do Hung Viet, director-general of Department for International Organisations under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, highlighted that the priority for implementation now is to boost vaccination coverage. “We are doing our utmost to utilise all relationships to receive as many vaccines as possible. However, we should further accelerate the vaccination ratio to become a foundation for the economic recovery, and then mobilise more resources for SDG implementation,” said Viet.
Viet stressed the importance of social welfare and issues like health, employment, poverty reduction, and supporting vulnerable groups. “We should boost social welfare by ensuring the minimum conditions for all people in every situation, as well as improve the resilience of every person amid the current crisis to maintain the outcome of SDG implementation and further enhance performance in this area,” emphasised Viet.
In terms of global partnerships, Vietnam to date has established relations with 30 key partners, including 17 strategic partnerships and 13 comprehensive ones. Vietnam has made progress in international economic integration through the full implementation of its international commitments and pursuing strategies to join free trade zones with important economic partners, as well as new-generation trade deals and membership of many regional and global forums.
Since 2016 the country has signed six free trade agreements (FTAs). Five of them have already taken effect, while the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is expected to come into force next year.
Following these, the export and import tariffs between Vietnam (or ASEAN) and partner countries have changed remarkably. The average most-favoured nation tariff rate is 11.8 per cent as defined by Decree No.57/2020/ND-CP dated May 2020 that amends and supplements a number of articles in 2016 and 2017 decrees on export tariffs, preferential import tariffs, goods and flat taxes, compound tariffs, and out-of-quota import tariffs.
“The reduction of special preferential import tax rates demonstrates Vietnam’s determination of serious implementation of the commitments. Currently, the average import tax rate is being reduced according to the roadmap that Vietnam has committed to,” said Le Viet Anh, director-general of the MPI’s Department of Science, Education, Natural Resources, and Environment.
Thanks to the contribution in the increase of FTAs, two-way trade turnover often reports two-digit growth on-year, while the average annual export growth rate in the 2016-2020 period sat at 10.5 per cent – and was $527 billion in 2020, 1.7 times over the value in 2015. Despite the pandemic outbreaks this year, the country’s trade turnover still reports positive growth and is expected to reach robust growth in latter months of the year, deemed an important factor in contributing to the annual GDP growth of Vietnam in recent years as well as to the accomplishment of Goal 17.
“With the great efforts and strong determination of the whole political system, Vietnam is set to achieve the SDG on strengthening the means of implementation and revitalising global partnerships for sustainable development by 2030, in addition to reaching encouraging results in SDG implementation overall,” said Anh from the MPI.
Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc - Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment
At the end of the last decade, Vietnam had numerous achievements in SDG implementation and was recognised by international organisations.
This was carried out by the efforts of all stakeholders and the clear directions of the Party and state by building legal frameworks and policies.
However, there are a lot of challenges to maintain the achievements and accomplish as many goals as possible by 2030.
Vietnam is struggling with the slowdown of GDP growth, the middle-income trap, challenges in infrastructural development, and environmental pollution, as well as the loss of natural resources, climate change, gaps between the rich and the poor, and regional development.
Meanwhile, mobilising resources for SDG implementation will be more difficult in the time to come.
Vietnam should utilise more resources and efforts to overcome such burdens, and encourage the participation of all stakeholders to continuously achieve success in SDG implementation.
Kidong Park - UN resident coordinator a.i in Vietnam
It is necessary to review the progress of the 5-year implementation of the SDGs, and take steps for socioeconomic recovery and building back better for vulnerable populations.
We have seen some progress in the reduction of inequalities overall, and the promotion of peace, access to justice, and building strong institutions. We need to double our efforts towards the protection of humans from harmful pollutants and chemicals, resulting from Vietnam’s industrialisation.
We also need to strengthen the protection of vulnerable groups such as children, women, migrant workers, people with disabilities, elderly, as well as gender-based violence, exploitation, abuse, and discrimination.
We need to improve efficiency in data collection and use it to formulate effective policies, such as the maternal mortality rate among ethnic minority groups. We also need to improve efficiencies in the public finance management systems to ensure resources flow and utilise where they are needed.
There is no doubt that the government is taking the safety and security of people very seriously, with comprehensive measures put in place. However, it is necessary to better support the government and improve protection mechanisms.
Michael Siegner - Resident representative Hanns Seidel Foundation in Vietnam
The pandemic has been affecting not only the lives of the global population but has naturally also gravely affected the implementation of the sustainable development agenda. It is critical to ensure that any recovery policies and strategies include sustainability requirements to build back better, greener, and fairer.
We sincerely believe that the existing global blueprints for sustainable development, namely the 2030 agenda for the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, can serve as policy vaccines for immediate and long-term pandemic recovery. Vietnam has made tremendous efforts in closing the gaps and progressing towards the 2030 targets and, while achievements have been seen, challenges remain.
The national SDG report 2020 clearly offers an important commitment to the SDGs in a time where the pandemic impact is threatening progress.