Excellency Dr. Nguyen Thai Lai – Vice Minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
Dear Dr. Tong Ngoc Thanh – General Director of the National Center for Water Resources Planning and Investigation
Dear Dr. Arne Hoffmann-Rothe – Head of Unit of International Cooperation for Asia, Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR)
Dear Mr. Jens Boehme – Project Leader of BGR
Dear Ms. Christiane Molt – Unit of International Cooperation – Asia, BGR,
Representatives and distinguished guests from the Office of the Government, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Representatives of the Provinces
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my pleasure to participate in the opening of the final workshop of the project “Improvement of Groundwater Protection” in Vietnam implemented by the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) on behalf of the German Government.
The project is one of the many pillars of the long and strong partnership between Vietnam and Germany. Its results are an important contribution to Vietnam´s efforts to implement the Green Growth Strategy.
Vietnam´s development is an exciting story marked by fast economic growth and remarkable progress in reducing poverty. But as Vietnam moves into the Middle Income Country status, the country is increasingly facing great challenges arising from rapid economic growth. One of the challenges is the sustainability of growth or the often destructive relationship between economic development and the environment.
Past practices in Europe and America demonstrate that environmental concerns have played almost no role in the early stages of industrialisation and remained weak until the early 1960s. The route of development at that period was “grow first, clean up later”. But the costs of waiting for a clean-up are rising for all countries on the growth path like Vietnam. Clearly, environmental degradation is reversing the hard-won gains in reducing poverty and improving the quality of life for the people.
One of Vietnam´s main environmental challenges is the protection of its abundant water resources. Water resources are under continued pressure by economic choices in recent years, combined with the population growth over the past two decades.
As surface water is increasingly affected by climate change, untreated sewerage and industrial waste water, also the availability and quality of groundwater resources are increasingly at stake.
Common consequences of the increasing and uncontrolled over-exploitation of groundwater are:
* Groundwater drawdown at a regional scale,
* Salinization of coastal aquifers, and
* Groundwater contamination as a result of e.g., percolating industrial and municipal waste water as well as agriculture and aqua farming.
Utilizing and managing groundwater in a sustainable manner is therefore crucial for life, development and the environment in Vietnam.
In this regard the Vietnamese Government has made a right and timely decision to adopt the Green Growth Strategy in 2012. This landmark strategy presents solutions based on the assumption that growth in the future will increasingly take into account the protection of natural resources. This year, in early 2014, the GGS has been complemented by an Action Plan, defining concrete targets and assigning responsibilities for the implementation of the Strategy.
I would like to commend the Government of Vietnam on this great and courageous effort.
The Action Plan categorizes the sustainable and efficient use of water resources under item 40 as one of the high priority measures of the Strategy. However, only if water resources will be given the same priority also in national budgetary decisions of Vietnam, pilot projects such as the IGPVN Project can be applied on a broader scale and thereby achieve their desired impact.
Equally important is the cooperation between the various national institutions responsible for setting the legal framework, rules and standards for resource management.
Excellency Vice Minister Lai, Ladies and Gentlemen,
against this background, the results of the project “Improving Groundwater Protection in Vietnam” which was initiated on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), will hopefully provide a strong knowledge and experience base for Vietnamese authorities concerning the exploration and monitoring of groundwater resources as well as its management and protection.
Let me say that the success of the project has been made possible through the strong commitment of our colleagues from the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR). And on behalf of my government, I would like to sincerely thank BGR as well as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) and the National Center for Water Resources (NAWAPI) for their engagement.
The protection and sustainable management of water resources will continue to be an important topic of German development cooperation with Vietnam. In the area of coastal zone management, the expertise of BGR will be embedded in a joint Vietnamese-German Programme in the Mekong Delta.
Excellency Vice Minister Lai, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish all participants a successful workshop today and even more so a successful continuation of your work.
Thank you for your attention.
(by Ms Annette Frick – First Secretary of the German Embassy to Vietnam
16th May 2014, Sheraton Hotel, 8:00 – 12:00)