Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Vietnam Caitlin Wiesen promised to closely coordinate and contribute to the building and implementation of socio-economic development strategies and plans of Vietnam.
Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Vietnam Caitlin Wiesen (Photo: VNA)
Vietnam is considered one of the 10 nations with the highest gross domestic product growth in the world in 2020 and one of the 16 most successful emerging economies. Last year, the country was also considered a bright spot in COVID-19 prevention and control. In your opinion, what stays behind Vietnam’s success story?
Caitlin Wiesen: Thank you very much for the question. (And I mean there’s a long history and then there’s a … history to the answer. And I think one of the… If we look back… 2020 was also the year when Vietnam for the first time entered the high human development group. (And) that was based on 20 years of some of the most extraordinary human development index group that we’ve seen anywhere around the world. It really showed the dedicated commitment of the government to growth on the one hand, but more importantly to the people-centered development, people-centered development first. So I think this is an extraordinary accomplishment. And there are different dimensions to the index that are very important of which helped it won. And the achievements of Vietnam in the health component… Longevity was extremely important, as well as the education and income components.
If we look at 2020… Vietnam is to be commented and has been commented and globally applauded for the way in which it has achieved the dual goals. First and foremost was the health goal and containment of the pandemic. The second was spurring the economic growth at the same time. And Vietnam is one of a few countries within the region and globally to record positive GDP growth rate. This is an extraordinary accomplishment.
When we look back at why and what were the factors of the success. Key factors included one, of course very strong and clear leadership but leadership that anticipated, anticipated the health impacts, adapted quickly and responded with agility. Or we call triple A governance. And this was very important in terms of the overall success.
The other dimension, very important, was the inclusion and very… mobilizing wide citizen support, mobilization of innovation. So there was a strong role of the state, of the government. There was a strong role of the citizens.
According to our PAPI survey that is undertaken, looking at COVID-19, there is a very very high satisfaction rate recorded by citizens on the government’s performance. So I think there was a... quite a little bit of trust that was generated during this as well. And people’s willingness to really move forward. I think these are the elements that were extremely important for the success.
There was also a combination of policies that were extremely important. There were social protection programs that were launched to reach vulnerable households and vulnerable businesses. And also efforts to look at… UNDP has been delighted to be part of… To look at analysis of those who have been most left behind, and most impacted, and how to best serve this population. Both by finding out who they are, those who were poor before COVID happened, but also those who became poor after COVID. So, actually the reach for social protection programs, social assistance programs were extended and need to be much larger. And here I would really like to commend the leadership of the government, prime minister for raising the multidimensional poverty rate. That’s very important in terms of assisting people at a crucial time. As we know, we hope that in 2021, COVID will be over and the economies will be open again. And yes vaccines are moving forward. Yes, they’re being rolled out but it will be sometime before the global economy rebounds. And in that context, 2021 will be another challenging year globally. That said Vietnam is very well poised because of its performance in 2020. And because it managed the health and contained the COVID pandemic first, reaching out to those that were left behind and stimulating the economy at the same time. It was very well poised for strong growth at this time. And it’s one of the few countries in that context. And there’s a lot that Vietnam can be proud of looking back at this year. And it’s very well positioned moving to 2021.
This year is the first year that Vietnam has been included in the list of countries with high human development by the UNDP. What is the most important achievements Vietnam has made over the past year?
Thank you so much for the question. And the first one is to… Our heartly congratulations to the government of Vietnam and the people of Vietnam for achieving high human development status and in the high human development group for the first time. This has been a long journey, 20 years. And has been remarkable and that’s one of the fastest growth in the human development index since it was introduced by UNDP in 1990. So I think it would go down in the history as one of the fastest growth in human development to reaching this point.
When we look back at what were the elements of the success for that. One of the core elements is the people-centered approach. People-centered and putting people first. And this has been a hallmark of the growth of Vietnam. It’s also reflected in the fact that… Today, when we look at other countries in the region of similar development or higher that… Vietnam accomplishes this with relatively low in equality compared to other countries. So this is another feed to be very proud of. It will be very important to maintain this moving forward into the next development period.
One of the issues that we found… In the past years, UNDP has introduced human development index that also takes into account planatory/planetary dimensions. When we look at the environment aspect… The environment has come… the growth of human development has been extraordinary. But there has been a cost to the environment. And there are needs to be a recalibration and a balancing between economic growth and environment to grow. That’s one of the lessons that we see from the past period. And this will become even more important. Very important movements that were made with renewables. This will need to be intensified as you look at the future growth of the country moving forward. And looking at ways in ensuring both the production and consumption within the economy are undertaken in the ways that are green, that are energy efficient and that is also climate-resilient.
They are some of the areas to look out for. The other is… Vietnam has very extraordinary and very high growth within the education dimension as well. There are areas, however, for improvement in terms of gender. So we look at gender for example. Vietnam scored quite high, relative to other countries. It’s in the top 30 countries in terms of political leadership. And that’s the reflection of 27% of women in the National Assembly and parliament. However, at the same time, Vietnam is in the bottom 30 countries when we look at sex ratio at birth. So this is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed moving forward. And it will be very important in the coming time as well to ensure that this imbalance between boys and girls is addressed for the future health of the nation as well.
What are the opportunities and challenges for Vietnam in 2021. Which solutions/strategies should Vietnam pay attention to in order to achieve more attainments in the coming time?
As I said earlier, I think Vietnam has a lot to be proud of in terms of its containment of the pandemic and the economic growth stimulus in 2020 that was resulted in the 2.9% growth, which is really quite a feed at this time. And particularly when you compare to other countries that were unable to have positive rate of growth. Very impressive.
When we look forward to beyond the COVID recovery and translating, transmuting that into sustainable economic recovery.
Very important to look at four points I would highlight. The first one is looking at the fast-tracking manufacturing export growth. And this is very important both for sustainable jobs and for growth and income growth moving forward.
The second one is looking at balancing. This is the balancing between economic growth and environmental protection or the other hand people and the planet. And this would be very important to look at both the production and the consumption within the economy. And looking at transforming the economy in ways that are going to be more environmentally sustainable, in ways that are more energy-efficient, and ways that are more climate-resilient.
Thirdly, if we look at the capital domestic market… Very important that there are more attention and investment placed in expanding the domestic capital market. Also in terms of creating radial efficiencies, and efficiencies in utilization of all development finance, that’s public and private, international, national. And very important that there are also geared in ways that are going address the sustainable development goals. And in this context, the development of an integrated national financing framework for sustainable development will be very important moving forward.
Fourthly and lastly, but very importantly, is what we call triple A governance. This is governance that is anticipatory, adaptive and agile. And Vietnam really exhibited all of these qualities in the ways it managed and contained the COVID-19 pandemic and also addressed the resurgence and simultaneously encouraged and protected those who were left behind, and also stimulated the economy.
All these elements are going to be extremely important moving forward in 2021, and more so to re-establish sustainable growth in the future. And here, innovation, creating space for experimentation, creating space for innovation will be vitally important so that there couldn’t be regulatory sandboxes and financial sandboxes. So we can come up with a set of policies that are actually going to expand the opportunities, especially for small and medium enterprises. Small and medium enterprises comprise almost 90 percent of the... those who are employed here in Vietnam. And it’s vital that the recovery is not the recovery for the few, that the economic recovery is sustainable, and the recovery that benefits all people and with sustainable jobs. So this is the challenge moving forward. Again, Vietnam is very high standing vs other countries in terms of its management of the pandemic in 2020, and also the stimulation of the economy. But these are the four areas that we would highlight these four areas to focus on to ensure that the transition from the COVID recovery turns into economic sustainable growth in the future.
Vietnam is in the last preparation steps for the 13th National Party Congress, which will bring out important decisions to the country’s socio-economic developments in the next five years. Could you comment on Vietnam’s preparation for this significant event?
I think Vietnam is being commended for the significant preparations that have gone in the preparing all the background documents for the congress of the party that is coming up. And in particular for the socio-economic development strategies and the socio-economic development plan. And these would be critical as these will determine the cause of development for the next 10 year period and 5 year period. And very important to set the parameters as well. UNDP has been delighted to partner very closely with the Ministry of Planning and Investment and other partners to contribute to the development of the socio-economic strategies and plan. And we look forward to, we look forward to implementing it together with the government. I think all eyes are on Vietnam for its success in 2020. There is a lot of excitement about the new vision for the strategies for the 10 years plan, 10 years vision, and the 5-year plan. And critical for Vietnam will be the quality of growth, inclusive growth and growth that are sustainable, and sustainable not for the few, but sustainable for all. And undertaking this in an environment, which we all know is the… we call the VULCA world. It’s volatile, it’s unpredictable, it’s… it’s complex and ambiguous. So in this context of uncertainty, very important to be underpinning the plans and the strategies, also with the strategies for the governance. And this is where we would highlight the importance of triple governance, governance that’s anticipatory, governance that’s adaptive and governance that’s agile. All three qualities that were exhibited very strongly by Vietnam in response to COVID-19 and re-booting the economy in that context. And this will need to be brought forward as well so that the achievements so far can become a roadmap for even greater, more sustainable, more inclusive growth in the future that delivers human development for all. VNA
Vietnam has broken into the group of countries with high human development, but this remarkable progress has been accompanied with relatively high pressures on the planet.