‘A Powerhouse for Change’, Viet Nam Blazing Path for Entire Region Towards Green Economy, Secretary-General Says, Hailing Country’s 45 Years in United Nations
Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the forty‑fifth anniversary of Viet Nam’s membership in the United Nations, in Hanoi, today:
Thank you for your warm welcome. It is an honour to be with all of you to mark Viet Nam’s forty-fifth anniversary in the United Nations. Today, we recognize more than a strong partnership — we celebrate a remarkable journey. A story of transformation and hope written by the Vietnamese people.
Little more than a generation ago, United Nations staff were in Viet Nam delivering food aid to a country ravaged by war, isolated and on the brink of famine. Today, it is Vietnamese peacekeepers coming to the aid of people in some of the most desperate parts of the world.
Thousands of miles from home — in places such as the Central African Republic — Vietnamese women and men are risking their lives to bring others peace and hope and a chance for a better life. I see here a group of the courageous peacekeepers from Viet Nam and I ask you please stand for a round of applause for the Vietnamese peacekeepers.
That is the journey we celebrate — from conflict to peace, from aid to self-sufficiency, from poverty to development. On today’s global stage, Viet Nam is not only an important contributor to United Nations peacekeeping — you provide double the global average of women peacekeepers. And Viet Nam has been elected to the Security Council twice — and adopted the first-ever Presidential Statement on upholding the United Nation Charter.
As Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), you have advanced cooperation and integration across South-East Asia. And meanwhile, the Vietnamese economy is one of the fastest growing in the world. Extreme poverty, hunger, disease, child mortality has plummeted. Literacy rates and access to health care, education, electricity, and safe drinking water have all grown — along with family incomes. These are remarkable human rights and development achievements.
Viet Nam achieved — and in some cases exceeded — most Millennium Development Goals. And despite heavy global headwinds, Viet Nam is fully committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. What a powerful testament to the resilience and hard work of the Vietnamese people — and for policies that place people at the heart of development.
As we look to the future, this will be vital to writing the next chapter in Viet Nam’s development success story: Generating more decent jobs for women and young people, including through the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions. Enhancing Viet Nam’s participation in the growing green economy. Turning the tide on growing income inequality. Addressing environmental degradation and pollution. Advancing human rights and strengthening the rule of law.
I recognize your most recent accomplishment — your election to the Human Rights Council just last week. Human rights are at the heart of unleashing the best of our societies. They build solidarity. They promote inclusion, equality, and growth. They underwrite freedom. They ensure lasting stability.
Your election is a reminder of the obligations of every Member State: To uphold human rights in all its dimensions — from social, economic, and cultural, to political and civil rights. To eradicate poverty. To promote universal health care. To guarantee education for all. To ensure respect for fundamental freedoms — including of expression and association. To protect civil society working to bring these rights to life — and to ensure their full engagement — from journalists and human rights defenders to environmental advocates. We look forward to deepening our work with you for peace, sustainable development, and human rights for all.
Our world is facing great peril. Developing economies, in particular, have been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic and are facing an avalanche of other crises — from the fallout of the war in Ukraine to soaring food and energy prices, spiralling inflation, crushing debt burdens, and shrinking fiscal space. They are the victims of the inequalities and injustices in the global economic and financial system that requires urgent reform.
We need justice, greater solidarity and greater cooperation. And nowhere do we need it more — and more urgently — than in our fight against the climate crisis. We are already witnessing horrific climate impacts at just 1.2°C of warming.
Viet Nam — with over 3000 km of coastline and many low-lying cities and delta regions — is on the front lines against climate catastrophe. Nearly a quarter of your citizens live in the Mekong Delta. It is your agricultural and industrial heartland. And it is one of the most vulnerable places in the world — exposed to rising sea levels, saltwater intrusion, flooding and changing rainfall intensity.
Without much more concerted global climate action, over 1 million Vietnamese could be pushed into poverty in this decade alone. And the already staggering economic costs of climate damage in Viet Nam could rise fifty-fold by 2050.
The Group of 20 (G20) economies together account for 80 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 80 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP). They must lead. They must reduce their emissions this decade — in line with keeping global warming to 1.5°C — and fully pivot to renewable energy.
Wealthier countries must keep their promise to provide $100 billion to support developing countries to build resilience. At least half of all international climate finance must go to adaptation, in support of populations affected already by climate change. And we must urgently address the impacts of climate change that are beyond countries’ abilities to adapt.
Action on loss and damage is a moral imperative that must be front and centre at the upcoming United Nations Climate Conference — COP27 [twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] — in Egypt.
All this is essential to rebuild trust between developed countries and the global south. But every country has a role to play. Because even if all developed countries were to reach net-zero by 2030, we would still not be able to keep to 1.5°C of global warming without further action by the rest of the world.
This means we cannot wait until after 2030 to move away from fossil fuels — particularly coal — or to peak global emissions. If the world does not cut emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, then achieving net-zero by 2050 will be a pipe dream. That will mean a climate nightmare for billions of people. We need all hands on deck now to realize an energy transition that is global, sustainable, just, inclusive and equitable.
Viet Nam is stepping up with your bold decision to accelerate your phaseout of coal, jumpstart the renewables revolution, and achieve net-zero by 2050. But to do so, Viet Nam needs the support to speed this transition and accelerate the greening of your economy, and that support is needed now.
Last year in Glasgow, I put forward a proposal for stepped-up and targeted solidarity to help make it happen. Specifically, to build coalitions of support to help key emerging economies unlock major emissions cuts needed now – coalitions that should include developed countries, financial institutions and those with the technical know-how.
We call these coalitions the Just Energy Transition Partnerships. And Viet Nam is leading the way. You are pioneering a new framework of collaboration to deliver a fair, inclusive energy transition towards renewables. Through these Partnerships, you are creating a crucial new tool to unlock emissions cuts our world needs in the 2020s. And you are blazing a path for the entire region to transform from an epicentre of coal emissions to a global green economic powerhouse.
Your leadership through the Just Energy Transition Partnerships has already set in motion unprecedented levels of coordination both within the Vietnamese government and with partners. By embracing the Just Energy Transition Partnership, you are helping to set a new development example to the world. You are its owner, its shaper, and its driving force. And success will require international solidarity.
Developed countries must fully engage in these partnerships. But success will also require a whole-of-society approach — with youth, civil society and the private sector working side-by-side with government and the National Assembly in open and honest dialogue.
And you can count on my personal engagement to push your partners to deliver the investments, the technical support, and the finance that is needed at speed, at scale, and at concessional levels. The United Nations is ready to ask the international community to fully engage to support the courageous decision by Viet Nam to reach carbon neutrality in 2050.
Viet Nam has come a long way. And the journey continues. You once again have the opportunity to be a powerhouse for change. To secure a climate resilient future. To leave no one behind. To transform your economy and help transform the world. The United Nations is proud to be your partner — every step of the way.
Tiến lên, cùng tiến lên. Onward, we advance together — as we just heard in the Vietnamese national anthem. Thank you. Cam on cac ban.