The COVID-19 pandemic is fundamentally changing the world in many fields, especially drastic changes in digital economic transformation, prompting countries to re-evaluate their economic development models, to improve public awareness of the growing threats of environmental and health problems. However, the COVID-19 pandemic also brings new and clearer insights into development opportunities, accelerating strategic transformation, towards a more sustainable future.
Green growth is an inevitable choice
In the world, the need to promote sustainable, long-term economic prosperity, in the face of growing concerns about maintaining and protecting natural capital and promoting robust, inclusive social development is being considered by countries. Accordingly, green growth (GG) has gradually become a mainstream trend, which is most evident in the change in energy structure, in which renewable energy is gradually accounting for a significant proportion compared to other energy sources, electric motors have gradually replaced gasoline engines in popular means of transport. Many countries have also committed to implementing the contents of the Paris Agreement on climate change: from the commitment "Limit global temperature rise" to "carbon neutrality target". The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are gradually being nationalized according to specific goals appropriate to specific circumstances. Science and technology, innovation and increasing connectivity among countries in the world are making great progress. Investment trends for smart production activities thanks to the 4.0 revolution, e-Government, smart cities, smart industry and agriculture... are becoming popular.
The conventional economic growth model is being recognized as potentially weakening the resource base and social progress and thus promoting socio-economic development under the GG model is an inevitable choice to ensure economic prosperity, increase social welfare and improve people's quality of life in the long run.
GG in Việt Nam, the way has passed
Implemented since 2012, GG is considered as an effective tool to implement sustainable development towards a low-carbon economy, enriching natural capital, in which reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, greening production and lifestyle, promoting sustainable consumption are strategic goals that make an important contribution to repelling the negative impacts of climate change.
After 8 years of implementation, the Việt Nam’s GG Strategy was on the right track, quite comprehensively implemented. The implementation of the Strategy has made many outstanding achievements, reflected in the content of institutional development and awareness raising. Some strategic goals have been achieved, green investment has gradually accounted for a significant proportion in the structure of both public and private development investment.
Besides the achievements, Việt Nam is increasingly facing many difficulties and challenges in the process of developing a GG economy.
From the existence of climate change
Việt Nam is not only one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change issues, but in recent time, the country has also faced an increase in extreme weather events, which have serious impacts on people and the economy. The year 2020 recorded many unusual and extreme natural disasters, occurring in many regions of the country, culminating in a historic heavy rain and flood, causing great damages in the Central region, especially in the provinces from Hà Tĩnh to Thừa Thiên - Huế and the worst drought in the Mekong Delta.
To external shocks
In the period of 2016 - 2020, the process of economic restructuring and transformation of Việt Nam's growth model took place very strongly with many positive changes. Việt Nam is considered as the most open economy in the world in terms of import and export value to gross domestic product (GDP). However, the greater the openness of the economy, the more vulnerable it is to adverse external influences. This can be clearly felt through the COVID-19 pandemic when there is a break in both the "supply" side and the "demand" side of the world economy. Việt Nam's economic prospects depend greatly on the world's ability to fight the epidemic and the situation of disease control in the country as well as the ability to overcome the intrinsic weaknesses and risks of the economy at the moment.
To the implementation of new international commitments
The GG Strategy was approved in September 2012 in Decision No. 1393/QĐ-TTg dated 25th September 2012, demonstrating the determination of the Party and State in developing a green economy associated with sustainable development and contributing to realizing Việt Nam's commitments at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Rio +20).
In September 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with 17 SDGs was officially adopted at the United Nations Conference in New York, replacing the millennium development goals (MDGs) that have failed to take into account the holistic nature of development and are expected to change the nature from being targeted for poor countries to achieve with financial support from rich countries to the fact that all countries will join hands to achieve the SDGs.
Việt Nam has fulfilled its commitments through the approval of the National Action Plan in May 2017 for Việt Nam's sustainable development to 2030, which includes 115 specific goals, corresponding to the global SDGs adopted at the 2015 United Nations Conference. The Action Plan demonstrates the Government's efforts and commitments in implementing Việt Nam's SDGs.
Also in 2015, the United Nations Climate Change Conference adopted the Paris Agreement - an "ambitious and balanced" plan to achieve the largest emissions reduction as soon as possible and lower emissions by the second half of this Century, as well as keep the global temperature from rising less than 2 degrees Celsius with an effort to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is considered a "historic turning point" in the goal of reducing global warming.
In the Việt Nam's Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement to respond to climate change with a roadmap to reduce GHG emissions in the period 2021 - 2030, by 2030 Việt Nam will reduce its total GHG emissions by 9% compared to the BAU and can increase its contributions by up to 27% when receiving international support through bilateral, multilateral cooperation and implementing new mechanisms under the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The way forward
The Paris Agreement and the SDGs set common expectations for future global sustainability with effective changes in areas such as infrastructure, transport, energy systems, production and processing… In this context, developing countries like Việt Nam have changed from a "voluntary" to a "compulsory" form of implementing international commitments.
GG in the new period must therefore become the main driving force for sustainable development and an effective tool to help the Government balance domestic resources and effectively mobilize international resources, providing an inter-sectoral support solution in the implementation of GHG emission reduction targets at all levels which are closely linked with the goals set out in the 10-year Socio - economic Development Strategy (2021 - 2030) and the Socio - economic Development Plan (2021 - 2025).
Therefore, the development and implementation of the National GG Strategy for the period of 2021 - 2030 with a vision to 2050 plays a very important role.
GG Strategy from the point of view, formulation approach to action implementation
The National GG Strategy was developed on the basis of extensive consultation with stakeholders in the context of the complicated COVID-19 pandemic over the past time. The process of developing the Strategy has received active support, coordination and comments from line ministries/sectors, local authorities, industry associations, embassies and international organizations, development partners. In the spirit of listening and fully receiving the opinions of stakeholders, the Ministry of Planning and Investment has completed the Strategy and submitted it to the Prime Minister for promulgation in Decision No. 1658/QĐ-TTg dated 1st October 2021.
The GG Strategy sets four important goals, including: Reducing GHG emissions, greening economic sectors, greening lifestyles and promoting sustainable consumption and greening the transition. In particular, the first goal of the GG Strategy is to reduce the intensity of GHG emissions per GDP, continuing to inherit the Strategy of the previous period in order to assess the ability to mitigate comparable GHG emissions per unit of economic output, helping determine the level of friendliness of the economy with the environment when the size of the economy is increasing, contributing to the realization of the dual goal of protecting the environment and closely associating with “fast and sustainable” development. Accordingly, the GG Strategy sets a milestone that by 2030, the intensity of GHG emissions per GDP will decrease by at least 15% compared to 2014. Further, in 2050, the intensity of GHG emissions per GDP will decrease by at least 30% compared to that of 2014.
Ministries/sectors, local authorities, embassies, international organizations, development cooperation agencies, businesses and academia highly appreciated the issuance of the GG Strategy for the new approach in the determination and feasibility of the goals, also expressed high agreement on the plan and roadmap for the implementation of the GG Strategy and believed that the GG Strategy would realize the goals set by Việt Nam for the timelines in 2030, 2045 and 2050. The relevant ministries/sectors, local authorities, agencies and organizations agreed to immediately start working together to develop the National GG Action Plan, the sectoral and local plans. Development partners and international organizations are committed to accompanying and supporting Việt Nam in the implementation of the GG Strategy in the near future.
The way to prosperity, post - COVID-19 economic recovery is green growth
In the current international context with many fluctuations, especially the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing with the nation's desire for prosperity, 2021 is the year Việt Nam hits the threshold of a new development stage. In addition to numerical efforts to assess growth, it is time for productivity and efficiency issues to be focused more deeply on quality and value, because behind the numbers are many issues that need attention.
2021 is also the starting year of the 10-year Strategy for 2021 - 2030 with the view of fast and sustainable development based mainly on science - technology, innovation and digital transformation; harmonious development between economy and culture - society, environmental protection and adaptation to climate change...
Therefore, the implementation of the GG Strategy closely follows the viewpoints and orientations of the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress, the 10-year Socio - economic Development Strategy for 2021 - 2030, and the 5-year Socio-economic Development Plan for 2021 - 2025, especially coordination and implementation is of particular importance with the close support and coordination of ministries/sectors, agencies, national and international organizations, and the business community, experts. In the coming time, in order to effectively implement the tasks and solutions assigned by the Prime Minister in the Strategy, there must be high consensus on actions to be implemented, especially the establishment of a National Steering Committee on GG, organization for the development of the National GG Action Plan.
At the Conference for launching the National GG Strategy for 2021 - 2030, with a vision to 2050 on 29th October 2021, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyễn Chí Dũng emphasized: "The National GG Strategy for 2021 - 2030, vision to 2050” plays a very important role in promoting economic restructuring associated with growth model innovation, is an important way to realize sustainable development, and contributes to post - COVID-19 economic recovery, towards green economic development, as well as a premise to concretize long-term carbon-neutral, low-carbon emission targets and contribute to limiting global temperature rise. The Prime Minister's approval of the GG Strategy ahead of the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change (COP26) in Glasgow, UK has demonstrated Việt Nam's strong commitment to reducing GHG emissions through practical and concrete actions.
Dr. Le Viet Anh - Director General
MSc. Tran Minh Hue
Department of Science, Education, Natural Resources and Environment
Ministry of Planning and Investment
(Source: Vietnam Environment Administration Magazine, English Edition IV-2021)