Environmental protection by government

Ha Noi, April 6 (VNA) -- A new national environmental strategy and action plan, and better aid coordination in the environment sector are the main topics of discussion at a joint government-donor conference on environment in Ha Noi on April 5-6.

The conference is being organized by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Participants are representatives from all ministries active in the environment sector, as well as multi-lateral and bilateral donors and NGOs working in Viet Nam.

During the conference, the participants have exchanged views on the Government's priorities for action and the need for improved donor assistance in the sector. They also made recommendations on how to improve coordination in mobilising, managing and evaluating official development aid (ODA) to the sector.

Addressing the conference, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment Phan Quang Trung said that Viet Nam has committed itself to decentralising the management of environmental projects to the local levels.

The Government has also deemed it necessary to strengthen the management and execution of projects using official development aid, increase the domestic budget for environmental activities and integrate better ODA projects into the country's general plans, Trung further said.

Progress has been made by Viet Nam in protecting the environment by more work remains to be planned and implemented, said UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam Edouard A. Wattez.

For his part, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem said the Vietnamese Government appreciates the valuable assistance given by the donor community to Viet Nam in solving environmental issues. He said he hoped the country would enjoy more assistance and cooperation from them.

Viet Nam's priorities in environmental protection are to deal with pollution, environment supervision and analysis, intensive farming, exploitation of the sea and continential shelf, public health and awareness as well as effective use of natural resources.

The country's ODA funds have amounted to USD 610 million for some 150 projects nation-wide in the 1996-2000 period, of which 9.4 percent has been earmarked for environmental projects.

Major donors to Viet Nam in the environment sector include the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the World Food Programme, the UNDP and the European Union, Sweden, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Switzerland.--VNA