Photo credit: VNA
By Kestrel DeMarco, MAGG
In the last couple of months working for the Climate Change and Environment (CCE) unit of UNDP Viet Nam on the “Coastal Resilience Project,” I’ve been assigned a diversity of exciting tasks related to Viet Nam’s national climate change strategy, nature-based solutions, risk databases, and risk-informed development. Along with the other Junior Professional Consultant (JPC) in the CCE unit, Joanna Hausen, I’ve also had the somewhat less exhilarating but no less important job of keeping track of the project’s various contracts. Though this may sound uninteresting, administrative work comes with the domain, and I’m more than happy to help ensure that the project’s work is completed as seamlessly as possible. After all, that’s a big part of why we’re here!
But coming back to more thrilling topics, the month of November has been particularly eventful because of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, as it is commonly referred to. COP26 was the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and took place in Glasgow, United Kingdom, with record participation from governments, observers, and journalists. There was considerable anticipation leading up to the conference because it was expected that many of the 197 parties in attendance would be making new and enhanced climate change commitments. Unfortunately, many people were disappointed with the final Glasgow Climate Pact due to its relatively weak stances on coal and on fossil fuel subsidies. Despite this, some strong statements and commitments came out of several countries, including Viet Nam.
Viet Nam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh called for an “inclusive approach” to addressing climate change and declared that “climate change response and the restoration of nature must become the highest priority in all development decisions.” He also called for nature-based and people-centered climate solutions that don’t leave anyone behind. Given my work with UNDP Viet Nam on both risk-informed development and nature-based solutions, I was very happy to hear the Prime Minister’s remarks. As one would expect, it’s very rewarding to see areas of work that I’m involved with at a local level be referred to in important international settings like this conference.
This conference came at a time when many countries, including Viet Nam, are in the process of developing new climate plans and policies. Since 2008, the Government of Viet Nam has come out with a series of national climate change policies. Now, UNDP is supporting the Government in the formulation of a National Climate Change Strategy for 2021-2050, which will also provide a vision to 2100. Like many countries, Viet Nam has committed to net zero emissions by 2050. Achieving net zero is no small task, so, having made this commitment, it is now crucial that a robust roadmap be developed showing how that commitment will be met in Viet Nam. Given the timeliness of this work and given the high level of vulnerability of Viet Nam to climate change-related impacts, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be involved with UNDP’s work on the country’s climate policy, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.