Workshop on revising Vietnam’s Nationally Determined Contributions while aiming for climate justice

Less than one week before the launch of the IPCC special report on global warming of 1.5ºC, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Vietnam together with the Vietnam Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) chaired by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) hosted a workshop on revising and implementing the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of Vietnam on 3rd of October to call for immediate and radical climate actions. Representatives from governmental agencies, embassies, international organizations, academia, trade unions and civil society exchanged knowledge and experiences regarding the opportunities and challenges of the revision process in Vietnam.

Nithi Nesadurai and Jessica Dator-Bercilla during the panel discussion. Photo by FES Vietnam

With the planned issuing of the revised NDCs in May 2019 coming closer and simultaneously having Vietnams vulnerability to climate change in mind, Vietnam’s current goal in reducing greenhouse gases by 8% (with international support by 25%) does not seem very ambitious. While transitioning to a low carbon economy is necessary in order to keep the global temperature increase below 2 degrees, Vietnam is still aiming to achieve annual GDP increases of more than 6% making the transition improbable. In order to raise Vietnam’s ambitions concerning reductions of greenhouse gases it is important to bring all stakeholders to the table and make sure every single voice is heard. Therefore, the question of how to involve civil society organizations (CSOs) which give citizens a voice is crucial and was one of the focal discussion points during the workshop.

Among others, Jessica Dator-Bercilla from the Asian Climate Change Consortium (ACCC) shared success stories from NGOs that managed to participate and steer the revision process of the Philippines. She stressed that CSOs should not only understand the scientific background of climate change but also have the necessary skills to translate the implications to the publics and decision makers. The case of the local NGOs Aksyon Klima and Climate Reality Philippines is a recent example of how civil society can draw political attention to the need of of phasing down the use of HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons). HFCs are chemicals mostly used for air conditioning or refrigerating. Once released to the atmosphere, these carbons become highly potent greenhouse gases contributing to global warming. With the increase of the global air temperature the demand for these devices and therefore the release of HFCs is increasing drastically, making it all the more important for climate activist to raise awareness on this matter.

Through a series of activities, such as the publication of policy and position papers, awareness raising campaigns targeting diverse stakeholders including the media, as well as capacity building trainings and workshops, the Philippine NGOs managed to include the HFC phasedown in the mitigation contributions of the Philippine NDCs. Moreover, the second case study showed effective measures to raise attention on topics the civil society is concerned about.

Learning from these examples, recommendations can be derived for both the Vietnamese government and local organizations. In order to better engage civil society in the revision process, Vietnam’s government must institutionalize CSO participation, whereas local NGOs should focus on preparing background knowledge and actively engaging in discussions. Furthermore, multi-stakeholder dialogue is essential to build alliances and a collaborative culture. 

Other approaches were presented by international and Vietnamese speakers. Nithi Nesadurai from the Climate Action Network South-East Asia (CANSEA) gave insights on how NGOs contribute to NDC revision by making financial flows to fossil fuel industry transparent. Financial institutions, including development banks are important actors in the global effort to speed up the transition towards low carbon development. Shifting these resources to green climate projects could catalyze a transition toward clean and energy efficient economies.

The workshop was an important event, not only to strengthen the next phase of NDC revisions but also to prepare, connect and create a strategy for the upcoming COP24 negotiations in Katowice. Now it is time to move beyond best practice examples and work together to step up Vietnam’s effort to combat climate change. 

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