Speech by Ms. Ritsu Nacken, UNFPA Representative a.i. in Viet Nam

29 June 2015

Mr. Nguyen Duy Thang, Vice Minister of Home Affairs;

Representatives from relevant Ministries and Organizations;

International development partners and NGOs;

UN colleagues and media;

Ladies and gentlemen,

A very good morning to all,

On behalf of UNFPA in Viet Nam, I would like to thank the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) for organizing this important event. It is an honor for me to be present here today to launch the first ever National Youth Report in Viet Nam.

First of all, I would like to congratulate MOHA for taking the lead in producing this national youth report. Producing this report would not have been possible if MoHA and all relevant stakeholders were not fully committed to addressing young people’s issues in the country. Their enormous efforts have been truly commendable, and we are proud to be part of the initiative.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Viet Nam is in the early state of golden population period that will happen only once in a country’s development history: Young people aged 10-29 years old- currently make up approximately 33 per cent of the total population of Viet Nam, recording the highest proportion of young people ever in Viet Nam’s history. This provides a unique opportunity for Viet Nam’s socio-economic development, but also creates substantial challenges for the country. If Viet Nam wishes to reap full benefits of this demographic window of opportunity, it is absolutely crucial to invest in education and health, including sexual and reproductive health, of adolescents and young people, and to ensure they have opportunities to meaningfully participate in society. If today we choose to invest in young people’s education and training, health and civic participation, and underpin this with respect for and protection of their human rights, then tomorrow we will enjoy the fruits of young people’s excellent contributions to the future we all want.

In order to make effective investment in youth, we need solid evidence on all youth-related issues to develop policies responding to people’s actuall needs. This first national youth report provides a holistic analysis on the situation of young people in Viet Nam, focusing on prioritized thematic areas of education & training, employment & labor, health and health care and youth participation. It offers useful evidence to inform priorities for youth development in the post-2015 period, the 2005 Youth Law revision and other relevant national youth development policies and strategies in Viet Nam. The challenges raised in this report also provide an opportunity for Viet Nam to reposition itself to take decisive measures to tackle youth development issues as a priority for the country.

Ladies and gentlemen,

If we fail to invest in young people now, the result may create a society where young people are disengaged. We need to look at all policy areas that have an impact on young people at all levels of governance and develop cross-sectoral solutions. The solutions must be sufficiently resourced, and an accountability mechanism needs to be established to ensure proper implementation.

Throughout the process to develop this report, we have been listening to young people’s views and concerns. Similarly, we need to mobilize youth participation in developing, implementing and monitoring the policies that affect their lives. Young people themselves know what is most suitable and needed for their lives. Involving them in the decision-making and implementation of policies and programmes that affect their lives is the best way to provide effective support to young people.

Distinguished guests,

We recognize that Viet Nam is at an important crossroad in terms of how it strategically plans for its socie-economic development in the coming years. The task of setting the right policies for many critical issues, including youth development policies, is not easy at all. I would like to assure you that UNFPA stands ready to support Viet Nam so that all Vietnamese young men and women can lead a life with dignity and human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, and realize their full potential.

Thank you again for joining us today. I wish you all good health, happiness and success.