The three-day event is co-organised by IPU and Vietnam’s National Assembly (NA).
The opening ceremony was attended by Chairwoman of the Vietnamese NA Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, IPU President Saber Chowdhury, IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong, Speaker of Myanmar’s House of Nationalities (Upper House) and Parliament Mahn Win Khaing Than, Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives Alvarez Pantelon, President of Timor-Leste’s National Parliament Aderito Hugo Da Costa and Secretary General of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) Isra Sunthornvut.
In her opening speech, Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan said like other Asia-Pacific countries, especially coastal and island nations, Vietnam is seriously hit by climate change.
She cited Vietnam’s climate change scenarios which projected that by the end of the 21st century, sea water will submerge about 40 percent of the Mekong Delta, 11 percent of the Red River Delta and 3 percent of other coastal provinces. HCM City, the country’s huge economic hub, is forecast to have more than 20 percent of its area flooded by sea water.
As such, about 10-12 percent of Vietnamese population will bear the direct impacts from climate change and about 10 percent of national GDP will be lost, the chief legislator said.
Therefore, the Vietnamese NA has reached consensus with the IPU on the agenda of the seminar, focusing on the SDGs, particularly those on gender equality and healthcare in the context of climate change response; challenges, opportunities and actions against climate change; international commitments and the role played by legislative bodies; and the mobilisation of resources to achieve SDGs in general and respond to climate change in particular.
IPU President Saber Chowdhury hailed the presence of many senior officials in the region at the seminar.
He stressed that parliaments play an important role in realising the SDGs, while climate change is a global issue that could affect the world’s development, and is related to all 17 SDGs. If the goal on coping with climate change is not achieved, all the remaining goals will suffer, he said.
According to Chowdhury, as 80 percent of natural disasters are caused by climate change, the key in responding to climate change is to cope with natural disasters. He noted that 88 percent of those who are affected by natural disasters in the world are in Asia-Pacific, therefore, it is necessary to put forth more dynamic strategies for women, children and humankind to fight natural disasters.
The IPU President said there are five pillars for the fulfillment of SDGs, which are human; peace; prosperity; connectivity between Governments, Parliaments and within Parliaments; economic development and productivity on the basis of social resources.
He expressed the hope that the seminar will give out strong signals about the Asia-Pacific region’s commitment to the SDGs.
Secretary of the HCM City People’s Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan said the presence of Parliament leaders and legislators at the event reflects the significance of environmental protection to all nations.
The event offers an opportunity for HCM City to extend its cooperation with countries which are also facing climate change issue, the official added.
Following the opening session, the first plenary session was held with discussions focusing on SDGs and the role of parliaments in realising those goals.
Within the framework of the event, a trip to Can Gio district in HCM City will be arranged for delegates as a case study for an economic model adaptive to climate change.
On this occasion, the Vietnam NA will coordinate with the IPU to announce a toolkit to help Parliaments assess their performance in SDGs achievement.