20th Anniversary Celebration in September 2015 – Environmental Cooperation

During the month of September, the U.S. Mission’s environment team celebrated 20 years of environmental cooperation between the United States in Vietnam through a series of visits and special events. To help us celebrate the anniversary, acting Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans, Environment and Science Judith Garber traveled from Washington, DC to Vietnam from Sept 10-11 to highlight our environmental cooperation. In Hanoi, acting Assistant Secretary Garber discussed U.S.-Vietnam cooperation on climate change, wildlife trafficking, water issues, and pollution control with senior officials inside key Vietnamese ministries. She also led a panel discussion on ways youth could engage in wildlife conservation in front of a packed house of high school and university students at the Embassy’s American Center. On her second day, acting Assistant Secretary Garber traveled with Ambassador Osius to Nam Dinh province, a front line of Vietnam’s climate change vulnerability. There acting Assistant Secretary Garber and Ambassador Osius launched a new USAID youth climate change program called Red River Delta Adaptation and Youth (READY). They also discussed the region’s climate change challenges and solutions with local farmers benefiting from USAID’s Vietnam Forests and Deltas climate change program, met with provincial officials, and visited Xuan Thuy National Park, a designated a Ramsar site for its protected mangrove reserves.

The U.S. Mission also conducted a series of activities surrounding combatting wildlife trafficking. On September 22, the Deputy Chief of Mission and other mission staff commemorated World Rhino Day by participating in an event dubbed “Nail it for Rhinos.” The Embassy supported the event as part of our demand reduction campaign — Operation Game Change (OGC). Participants from government, NGOs and international embassies and organizations pledged deepening collaboration to curb the illegal trade in rhino horns with many donating clippings from their fingernails to fill a plastic rhino horn to highlight the similarities between human nails and rhino horn.

Also as part of OGC, Mission officers conducted multiple outreach events at private middle schools to raise students’ awareness about the plight of wild rhino populations and pledge their support not to use, gift, or accept rhino horn. The outreach was part of a series of nine school visits that will reach approximately 2,000 students before the November 8 WildFest event. In addition, the USAID Governance for Inclusive Growth Program (GIG) and Vietnam Customs General Department co-organized a workshop titled: “Strengthening the Effectiveness of Combatting Illicit Wildlife Trade in Vietnam” in Ho Chi Minh City on September 17. Vietnamese law enforcement agencies discussed challenges and recommendations to enhance efficiency in combatting wildlife trafficking at this important event.

To mark our growing cooperation on curbing pollution, the U.S. Department of State co-sponsored an international workshop on “Experiences and Lessons Learned on Water Pollution Control” organized by the local NGO Center for Environment and Community Research (CECR) from September 11-12 in Ninh Binh Province. An environmental expert from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC discussed the U.S. experience with senior government officials and NGO partners. To deepen our cooperation on water management issues, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted the second in a series of workshops with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on watershed planning and management.

Also in September, USAID awarded a new grant to fund part of ADB’s Climate Resilient and Sustainable Urban Development Program. The objective is to support Vietnam’s transition to low emission, climate resilient and sustainable development. The program aims to improve the policy and institutional framework for climate resilient and sustainable urban development while strengthening capacity and demonstrating urban resilience in Vietnam. The program will run through 2019.

As part of Environment month, USAID also celebrated women leaders in construction as part of Green Architecture Week. In partnership with the Institute of Tropical Architecture at the Hanoi Architectural University, USAID’s Clean Energy-Energy Efficiency Program (VCEP) organized an event with women champions in the sector for students and faculty. Three leaders who have made strides in this male-dominated field shared their experience and inspiration. At the same event, top students received awards for their outstanding thesis work.

In addition to these exciting and varied activities, throughout the month, the Mission also ran of series of social media postings related to global environmental issues, such as climate change, marine conservation, oceans, clean energy, and wildlife trafficking to highlight how the United States and Vietnam could collaborate to overcome these challenges.