» A strong call for enhanced cooperation to support Viet Nam’s development
25.08.2017 - ODG

A strong call for enhanced cooperation to support Viet Nam’s development

UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, and the Chair of Viet Nam's National Assembly, Ms Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, in Hanoi (Viet Nam)

Reaffirming the strong ties that bind UNESCO and Viet Nam, Director-General Irina Bokova reviewed the scope of cooperation and opportunities for scaling it up in a series of high-level meetings in Ha Noi on 24 and 25 August.

In discussions with the Director-General, Ms Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, the first woman to preside Viet Nam's National Assembly, called for strengthened cooperation with UNESCO to advance socio-economic development and implement the SDGs. 

"Cooperation between UNESCO and Viet Nam directly benefits our people, with programmes having far-reaching influence in their lives," she said. "Our five-year socio-economic development programme integrates the SDGs and takes a multi-dimensional and people-centered approach, with education, science and access to information being key to improving lives."  

Chairperson Kim Ngan drew attention to the impact of UNESCO's expertise and technical assistance, from setting norms to encouraging recognition of cultural and natural heritage. "Through this, our citizens have come to realize how valuable these assets are, noting that the protection of cultural heritage, as well as the quality of education and the promotion of science and technology for innovation, are issues now commonly discussed in the Assembly. She also affirmed the Assembly’s commitment to mainstream gender equality in all draft laws, encourage female leadership and combat stereotypes of all sorts. 

The country’s priorities were further detailed by the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of the National Commission for UNESCO, Mr Le Hoai Trung, who gathered a wide cross-section of senior representatives from government and academia representing the breadth of the Organization’s programmes. 

“Viet Nam has benefited from UNESCO in terms of ideas, policies, practices, norm-setting and projects in all our areas of competence,” he stated in opening remarks. “This has contributed to the development of Viet Nam and our integration at regional and global level.” 

The Director-General commended the country’s impressive transformation and clear development strategy linking economic growth, social inclusion and investment in people through education, scientific innovation as well as the promotion of culture and creative industries. 

From sustained high investment in education and active support to science to deep respect for tangible and cultural heritage, Ms Bokova noted that Viet Nam’s partnership with UNESCO is based on a shared belief in soft power as the foundation for building more inclusive and sustainable societies. 

“Viet Nam takes a very proactive approach – you were a pioneer in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and now you are moving forward on the 2030 Agenda. You have a vision and a strategy, and we are here to accompany you,“ she stated, referring to the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Organization and Viet Nam for the 2016-2020 period. 

Highlighting UNESCO’s advocacy for culture as a development driver, she commended the launch in September 2016 of the National Strategy for the Development of Cultural Industries in Viet Nam towards 2020. 

To cope with new development challenges, the Vice Minister indicated interest in stronger cooperation to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Memorandum of Understanding. His remarks were complemented by interventions from various ministries. The Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ms Dang Thi Bich Lien, described the positive impact of World Heritage sites on tourism, noting that last year these cultural assets attracted more than 16 million visitors, of whom 4.5 million were from abroad.  The Vice Minister of Education and Training, Ms Nguyen Thi Nghia, noted the priority placed on reviewing textbooks to remove gender prejudice while the Vice Minister of Communications, Mr Phan Tam, noted the need to improve the capacity to access information on the Internet. 

Hosting a dinner in honour of the Director-General’s visit, the Minister of Education Mr Phung Xuan Nha, referred to the “clear relevance of UNESCO in the 2030 Agenda”, noting the Organization’s impact on Viet Nam’s socio-economic development. While Viet Nam places high value on education, issues of quality, teaching and learning styles, he stated that curriculum reform pertaining to learning in the classroom and disconnects between the education sector and the labour market remain persistent policy challenges, and areas where the Organization’s assistance would be welcome. 

The Director-General also noted that more integrated and strategic cooperation with development partners has been enhanced through UNESCO’s recent move to join other UN agencies, funds and programmes at the Green One UN House, which she toured with the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Kamal Malhotra. 

During her stay in Ha Noi, the Director-General laid a wreath at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and visited the Trang An Landscape Complex World Heritage site, inscribed in 2014 as the country’s first mixed property. She praised the authorities of Ninh Binh province for their efforts to abide by UNESCO’s criteria to protect the cultural and natural beauty of the site for present and future generations. 

The Director-General expressed hope that Viet Nam would send a high ranking representative to the Leaders’ Forum of UNESCO’s General Conference in November 2017 to share the country’s experience in promoting economic development, inclusion, innovation and resilience in partnership with UNESCO.

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