Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Ted Osius at Launch of the USAID/Vietnam Project: Strengthening Capacity and Institutional Reform for Green Growth and Sustainable Development in Vietnam

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
U.S. Ambassador Ted Osius delivers opening remarks at the launching workshop.
U.S. Ambassador Ted Osius delivers opening remarks at the launching workshop.
Photo: USAID/Vietnam

HANOI, January 21, 2015 -- It is my pleasure to be here today at the launch of this important project to promote Green Growth in Vietnam.

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of normalized relations between the United States and Vietnam and look to the future, perhaps is there no greater opportunity to bring our two great nations together than on climate change and the environment.  It is, therefore, truly an honor to speak on this topic so early in my tenure here in Vietnam and at such an important event.

Years ago, I had the pleasure of working for former Vice President Al Gore and over time he became my mentor and friend. One of the most important things he taught me was the urgent need to protect our environment.

Speaking about the climate crisis, he once said, “now, more than ever, we must come together to solve this global crisis.

We must act decisively, rise to the occasion and solve this monumental challenge.”

Today is an example of the coming together of two nations to address the challenge.

There are few countries in the world that understand the threat of climate change better than the United States and Vietnam.  Given our long coastlines, we are both vulnerable to stronger storms and rising sea levels. 

Changing weather patterns promise to impact our farmers while increasing ocean acidification threatens the livelihoods of our valued fishermen.

Beyond these vulnerabilities, the United States and Vietnam also share something else: a strong determination to reverse the course of climate change.  We share the belief that through collective and individual action, the global community can reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions that are changing our climate.  We share the belief that by working together, we can prepare our cities, communities, and families for the effects of a changing climate.

We know the Government of Vietnam shares our commitment to tackling climate change based on its concrete efforts in both adaptation and mitigation.

The Government has developed and put in place a national green growth strategy and accompanying action plan. These are key policy steps that will contribute to moving Vietnam onto a low emission, or green development, pathway. The only way to avoid the most severe climate change impacts is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the use of low-carbon energy sources, increased energy efficiency, and reduced deforestation. Early action will reduce both climate change risks and the costs of mitigating climate change. 

I congratulate the government of Vietnam on these excellent efforts.

While it is a relatively small greenhouse gas emitter now, projected future emissions of Vietnam are significant.  A cleaner development path offers opportunities for economic growth and improved standards of living due to a healthier environment

There are some who say that the path to a healthy environment is a path that stifles a healthy economy.  They say environmental protections come at the cost of business profits. That is simply not true.  The environment and economy are not at odds. 

In fact—they depend on one another. 

A clean, healthy environment is a foundation on which we can build a sustainable economy for the 21st century. 

And our cooperation is critical to realizing that future.

Vietnam’s green growth strategy and action plan are critical in building a 21st century economy, and, while just the start, they are great successes thus far.

However, actually putting these policies into practice will be equally challenging, if not more difficult, than formulating them. The U.S. Government is pleased to help Vietnam accomplish this task with the new project we are launching today.

This project will assist Vietnam in a number of critical green growth areas.

It will strengthen the capacity for the Ministries of Planning and Investment, Finance, and Transportation, as well as Vietnam’s provinces to effectively implement and monitor the Vietnam Green Growth Strategy and Action Plan.

The collaboration between the United States and Vietnam on this project will also directly contribute to the Comprehensive Partnership set forth by our presidents, in which the shared challenge of climate change plays a key role.  Our work together in this area symbolizes the true breadth and scope of our Comprehensive Partnership.

In closing, I want to sincerely congratulate all parties here on the launch of this project.

I wish you all success, prosperity, and good health.

Thank you very much.

Issuing Country