Action on climate change can boost other aspects of development, if properly aligned

At a recent workshop in Vietnam, stakeholders explore how to bring together the work on climate governance and the implementation of the Paris Agreement with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Action on climate change is too often carried out in isolation from wider development objectives. Aligning the implementation of the Nationally Intended Contribution (NDC) more closely with efforts towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) could boost progress across the board. At a recent workshop in Vietnam, stakeholders explored how they could help improve synergies between these two policy areas.

Climate action plays a decisive role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The web-based NDC-SDG Connections tool developed by the German Development Institute (Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik, or DIE) and the Stockholm Environment Institute identifies synergies between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. The new tool reveals that, at a global scale, nationally determined contributions (NDCs) contribute to SDGs far beyond the climate change-focussed SDG 13. Indeed, NDCs have direct and indirect impacts on: SDG 7,  ensuring access to affordable and sustainable energy for all; SDG 2, eliminating hunger; SDG 15, protecting and restoring ecosystems on land; SDG 11, promoting sustainable cities and communities; and SDG 6, providing access to clean water and sanitation, among others.

Visit the NDC-SDG Connections tool. 

Recognizing the mutually dependent nature of these two policy frameworks, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) in Vietnam and the Vietnam Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) jointly organized an international conference titled “Connection between Implementation of Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals” on 23 May 2018 in Hanoi.

FES Vietnam supports CCWG and its work to foster policy dialogue between different actors on the issue of climate change and energy, particularly in relation to international climate governance and national efforts to implement the Paris Agreement. But bringing together the work on climate governance and the implementation of the Paris Agreement with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals is a new approach.

“Connecting the thematic implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals presents important leverage points for civil society actors to identify critical gaps and shortcomings, and to foster a truly integrative implementation of the social, economic and ecological dimensions of these two agendas,” said in her opening speech Yvonne Blos, Regional Coordinator for Climate Change in Asia, FES Vietnam Office. “This is also what a socio-ecological transformation that we stand for aims to achieve”.  

During the conference participants discussed the connections and synergies with the SDGs that can be found in the Vietnamese NDCs. Our photo report highlights some ideas of how international experts, government representatives and civil society organizations can come together to enable a participatory and consistent implementation process. 

With more than 100 representatives from ministries, media, think tanks and NGOs, the conference enabled a direct exchange between civil organizations, national decision-makers and international experts. As an important achievement, the conference brought together representatives from three ministries that are essential for the coherent implementation of SDGs and NDCs. These are the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Vu Minh Hai, CCWG chairwoman from 2015 to June 2018, led the event. Vu is one of the leading disaster risk management experts in Vietnam. In her function as chair of CCWG, Vu focused her efforts on reinforcing the dialogue between NGOs and government representatives through consultation meetings and intensive exchanges during the Conferences of the Parties for negotiations around the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Nguyen Khac Hieu, Deputy Director of the Department of Climate Change with the MONRE, expressed the wish to stronger cooperate on the alignment of the SDG and Paris Agreement agendas. As Vietnam’s lead agency for both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, MONRE has been tasked with coordinating this process. This Ministry has asked various ministries to put forward delegates to participate in a collaborative process to review and update Vietnam’s NDC. The review and updating work started in June 2017 and should be completed by 2019.

Le Minh Ba from MARD presented the ministry’s sectoral action plan on sustainable development and the related investment plan on the individual actions. He pointed out barriers to a coherent implementation such as limited resources, overlap and duplication across different sectors and difficulties in collecting monitoring data. As possible solution could be the establishment of an information-sharing mechanism and a centralized information system that enables a stronger cooperation between sectors.  

The Government of Vietnam has committed to mobilizing all resources necessary for a successful implementation of Agenda 2030 and its SDGs.  Seventeen global SDGs have been nationalized into the National Action Plan (NAP) for implementation of the Agenda 2030, with 115 specific targets that are in line with the national development priorities and conditions, based on the successful implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“WWF is a CCWG member since the beginning,” said Pham Cam Nhung, Programme Coordinator for Sustainable Energy at WWF Vietnam. “We see that this network is a key dialogue partner with the government. We see a lot of achievements and results of CCWG in terms of policy dialogue with the government.” She said WWF Vietnam was enthusiastic about taking over as chair of CCWG from June 2018.  

Vu Thi Bich Hop from the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) introduced the audience to SRD’s work on the two agendas. Since 2006, SRD has helped rural communities to adapt to the changing environment to ensure their livelihoods in an equal, sustainable and efficient manner. For example, by introducing climate-smart agricultural practices SRD support small-scale food producers increase their productivity sustainably (SDG 2) while reducing carbon emissions.

“The NGO community is crucial because they bring in specific knowledge that can complement not only the national but also the local level governance for the future implementation of both climate change action and sustainable development,” said Adis Dzebo from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). Dzebo is a co-leader of the joint initiative NDC-SDG Connections, a cooperation between the German Development Institute (Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik, or DIE) and the SEI.

In between the sessions the participants got to know about the work of FES and CCWG.

“We found (…) a very high level  of willingness to participate in the implementation of the National Action Plan for the 2030 Agenda and the NDC,” said DIE’s Nguyen Quynh, presenting a survey to identify potential opportunities and challenges for a joint implementation of the SDG and climate agendas in Vietnam, commissioned by FES.  

“However, the results showed that only around 35 per cent of the respondents were invited by the government to participate in the consultation workshops regarding the two frameworks. Here, we need more participation in the future.”

Nguyen Thi Yen from Care International introduced actionable agro-climate information services. She pointed out the need to learn from other international and regional experience in NDC implementation to increase information exchange between governmental agencies, to avoid overlaps and promote the contributions that NGOs can make.

“CCWG members are working with the most vulnerable people in Vietnam,” she said. “The member organizations are contributing for example to no hunger, to poverty reduction and to climate change action. We focus a lot on how to involve vulnerable people, how to promote gender equality, and how to ensure that nobody is left behind regarding access to resources and to information. In that context our work makes important contributions to both the NDCs and SDGs.” 


Tran Tu Anh is Programme Manager for Climate Smart Agriculture and Gender at the Netherlands Development Organization SNV (taken from its name at the time of founding, Stichting Nederlandse Vrijwilligers, or “Foundation of Dutch Volunteers”). She shared her experiences regarding the co-benefits between adaptation and mitigation in the agriculture, energy and water, sanitation and hygiene sectors. “Together we can multiply our impact compared to working as individual actors. Through this collective approach each organization can save time and resources as well as achieve a more coherent and sustainable impact.”

This conference was part of the FES project which aims at strengthening the voice of Vietnamese civil society in the fields of climate change and environmental protection. 

CCWG was established in 2008 with the mission to contribute to reducing the vulnerability of people and communities who are at the frontlines of climate change impacts in Vietnam. As an open network for all interested Vietnamese and international non-governmental organizations, institutions and individuals, CCWG strives to bring these voices forward through NGO coordination, advocacy and capacity building to achieve environmentally and economically sound responses to climate change. 


For more information on the work by FES on climate change in Asia, contact Yvonne Blos, Regional Coordinator for Climate Change in Asia at FES Vietnam Office, a regional hub that supports actors across Asia to set up, implement and scale up their efforts in the field of climate change, energy, and environment.

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