2020 - a turbulent year for the world in general and for Việt Nam due to the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. 2020 is also the first year that Vietnam concurrently undertakes the Presidency of ASEAN and the Non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council. Việt Nam has assumed the ASEAN Year 2020 with the theme of "Cohesive and responsive ASEAN" in the context of requiring new skills and creativity unprecedented by ASEAN and the world. Along with the active support of the ASEAN authorities, Vietnam's success as the Vietnam's 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship has contributed to creating a new impetus for after more than five decades of establishment and development, ASEAN continues to affirm the strength of solidarity, resilience and the ability to flexibly adapt to challenges in new contexts of each nation and the world.
Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Võ Tuấn Nhân (left) delivered his opening remarks at the ASOEN 31 Meetin
ASEAN cooperation in the field of environment is increasingly concerned by ASEAN Member States (AMS). In 2020, as the difficult context of the COVID-19 pandemic, AMS together have implemented solutions to minimize the impacts of the pandemic, on the other hand, continue to cooperate closely to address the region's priority environmental issues on climate change, coastal and marine environment, chemicals and waste, water resources management, environmental education, environmentally sustainable cities, nature conservation and biodiversity. In particular, the current emerging issues as climate change, marine debris and inter-sectoral issues are also great concern to AMS.
Some outstanding results of ASOEN Vietnam in 2020
Not out of the general trend of the region, in 2020, ASOEN Vietnam has also actively promoted the implementation of cooperation activities, actively contributing to the regional activities, contributing to the success of the ASEAN Chairmanship 2020. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic globally in general and the ASEAN region in particular, Vietnam presides over the organization of important Conferences in the field of environment via video conferencing, including: The 21st Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on coastal and marine environment (AWGCME 21) from 10 to 11 November 2020; The 22nd Meeting of the ASEAN Biodiversity Center Governing Board and Related Meetings (GB ACB 22) from 17 to 18 November 2020; The 31st Meeting of the ASEAN Senior Officials on Environment and Related Meetings (ASOEN 31) from 24 to 27 November 2020.
The ASOEN 31 Meeting recorded decisions related to the ASEAN collaborative environment and reviewed the report on the implementation progress of the ASEAN working groups (AWG), including: Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB); Chemicals and Waste (AWGCW); Coastal and Marine Environment (AWGCME); Environmentally Sustainable Cities (AWGESC); Environmental Education (AWGEE); Water Resource Management (AWGWRM); Climate Change (AWGCC). The ASOEN 31 Meeting also approved the Draft of ASEAN Joint Declaration on the conservation of biodiversity at COP 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); acknowledging the ASEAN green initiative that was launched at the ASEAN Biological Diversity Meeting 2020, tentatively scheduled to be held in early 2021; drafting the ASEAN Action Plan to combat marine plastic waste; adopting the revised ASEAN Awards Mechanism for organizing the 5th ASEAN Environmental Sustainable Cities Awards by 2021 and the 4th ASEAN Cities Environment Certification...
At the ASOEN 31 and related Meetings, Vietnamese delegation actively contributed comments on important issues, demonstrated responsibility to the region, strengthened multilateral relations as well as with each country in ASEAN, ASEAN+3. At the same time, Việt Nam also petitioned others AMS to address urgent environmental issues, including water pollution, transboundary air, marine debris and climate change to ensure better social welfare and a safer living environment as well as preserve and sustainably manage the community's biodiversity for generations of ASEAN people for now and in the future. Vietnam also called on AMS, in the context that countries in the region and the world are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, to cooperate closely and gather resources to gradually reverse the epidemic. At the same time, continue to work side by side to solve environmental problems in the region. On this occasion, Vietnamese delegation also informed AMS and international partners of the achievements of the ASEAN Chairmanship 2020, especially in the field of environment, the National Assembly of Việt Nam has passed the Law on Environmental Protection on 17th November 2020.
Representatives of AMS discussing at ASOEN 31 Meeting via video conference
In 2020, as the national focal point for ASEAN cooperation activities on environment, the Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA) also submitted to the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) for consideration and approval of the plan to consolidate the Vietnam AWGs to improve the efficiency of cooperation activities of ASOEN Vietnam (Decision No. 14/QD-BTNMT dated November 6th 2020 of MONRE); Continue to implement the Project to develop and implement a Plan to implement the goals of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community until 2025 (Decision No. 1233/QD-BTNMT dated May 23rd, 2017 of MONRE). ASOEN Vietnam Office has also completed the task of "Building a website on ASOEN Vietnam's activities" with the aim of introducing, sharing and enhancing communication on ASEAN cooperation in environmental field. In addition, ASOEN Vietnam has also actively participated in related joint activities of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community and events hosted by Việt Nam during the ASEAN Chairmanship 2020.
Asoen Vietnam's direction of operation in 2021
2021 is determined to continue to be a challenging and difficult year for ASEAN cooperation in general and ASEAN cooperation on the environment if the COVID-19 pandemic is not fully resolved. Therefore, ASOEN Vietnam needs to be proactive and actively involved in regional cooperation activities, with a special focus on tasks such as:
Firstly, focusing on promoting the effective implementation of activities within the framework of the 7 ASOEN Working Groups: Continue to participate in the activities of the AWGs on climate change according to the Working Group's Action Plan, at the same time proactively organize the implementation of activities that Việt Nam currently plays the role of the focal country; participate fully in ASOEN annual Conferences, especially ASOEN 32 Meeting, AMME 16 Meeting and other related Meetings; develop ASEAN cooperation documents expected to be submitted to high levels for approval in 2021, including: Draft ASEAN Joint Declaration on Climate Change at COP 26 UNFCCC; Draft ASEAN Joint Declaration on biodiversity conservation at COP 15 CBD; Draft ASEAN Joint Declaration on Chemicals and Waste at the Conference of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention; formulating and giving comments on the ASEAN Status Report on climate change; 6th ASEAN Environmental Status Report; coordinate with AMS, the ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC) and partners in implementing cooperation projects with a Vietnamese national component and other cooperation projects within the framework of the Working Groups; promote cooperation, exchange and sharing of information, data and experiences in 7 areas of ASOEN cooperation; well performed the role of the country to host the 11th ASEAN Working Group Meeting on Climate Change; organize the 5th ASEAN City Environmentally Sustainable City Award in Việt Nam in 2021 and the 4th Certificate of Potential Environmentally Sustainable Cities.
Secondly, Việt Nam will actively and proactively participate in activities within the environmental cooperation framework of ASEAN+3, East Asia, partner countries and international organizations: Participate in activities within the framework of the ASEAN-China Environmental Cooperation Strategy (2021-2025); continue to work closely with Japan and others AMS to implement ASEAN-Japan cooperation activities and projects on environment, climate change, and marine debris; maintain close cooperation with ROK and AMS to implement cooperation programs and projects on environment and climate change; coordinate with partner countries and international organizations to implement ASEAN cooperation activities on environment, especially Norway, Germany, EU, GIZ, PEMSEA.
Thirdly, reciprocal activities of ASOEN Vietnam 2021 will continue to be deployed more synchronously and effectively to support ASOEN Vietnam Working Groups: ASOEN Vietnam will continue to promote communication and propaganda about ASOEN Vietnam activities, in particular: Regularly posting information on the website about ASOEN Vietnam in order to propagate and advertise ASOEN Vietnam's activities; Considering, reviewing, proposing to promulgate a Regulation on the organization of ASEAN environmental Awards in Vietnam, including: Awards for Environmentally Sustainable Cities; The ASEAN Ecological School Award; ASEAN Environmental Youth Award and related Awards; Organizing the Vietnamese working delegations to attend regional Conferences and Seminars; Support the implementation of priority reciprocal activities within the framework of ASOEN Vietnam Working Groups.
Nguyễn Minh Cường, Nguyễn Thanh Nga
ASOEN Vietnam Office, Vietnam Environment Administration
(Source: Vietnam Environment Administration Magazine, English Edition I-2021)