Deputy Prime Minster, Minister of Foreign Afairs, Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and Sweden: Towards an equal partnership for the 21st century
Sweden was the frst industrially developed country to acknowledge and conclude a diplomatic relationship with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam while our country was still fighting its resistance war (January 11, 1969). Sweden is also one of the nations where the solidarity movement with Vietnam was at its strongest during the revolution and reunification process of our country.
Over the last four decades, through many historical ups and downs, the friendship and firm cooperative spirit shared by Vietnam and Sweden have been promoted by the governments and people of both countries, with cooperation spanning such diverse areas as politics, economics, commerce, investment, culture, education, and science and technology. One of the highlights of the Vietnam–Sweden cooperative relationship has been the valuable aid that the government and people of Sweden have granted Vietnam over the last 40 years. Sweden has supported Vietnam in a range of important projects and the products of this cooperation, such as the Swedish Hospital for Children, Uong Bi hospital, and the Bai Bang paper Factory, stand as enduring symbols of the friendship between the two countries.
The development aid granted by Sweden to Vietnam has been effectively used for priorities such as poverty reduction, health, education, science and technology, environmental protection, and public administration reform. This aid and the advances it has enabled have made a significant contribution to improving the living standards of target recipients, as well as contributing to the socio-economic development of Vietnam as a whole.
In today’s context, with Vietnam pursuing continued economic renovation, further integrating into the world economy, and the nation fast approaching middle-income status, the friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and Sweden is set to enter a new era, maturing from a development-assistance relationship to an equal partnership with a focus on mutual benefit through cooperation in key areas such as investment, education and training, and science and technology.
The Government of Vietnam has pursued a consistent policy of creating favourable conditions for Swedish investors and entrepreneurs wishing to engage in stable commercial business in Vietnam, striving to increase the two-way trade to Us$1 billion, with an additional Us$1 billion in swedish investment in Vietnam in the years ahead as per the commitment of the two countries’ leaders.
On the occasion of 40-year anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between Vietnam and Sweden, the Government and people of Vietnam would like to express our gratitude and best wishes to the Swedish Government, Royal Family and people. with the understanding and commitment shared by the governments of our two countries, we believe that the friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and Sweden will further develop towards an equal, comprehensive relationship, responding to the common expectations of the people of both Sweden and Vietnam for a shared future of peace and stable development.
HE. PHAM KHOI NGUYEN,
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment.
Over the past 40 years, Sweden has continuously provided support to Vietnam in various areas, particularly the natural resources and environment sector.
The most significant result of cooperation between the two countries in the natural resources and environment sector is the SEMLA programme, which has been implemented for five years now with a total budget of 250 million SEK. SEMLA programme is in fact the continuation of the previous two projects, i.e. the Cooperation Programme on Land Administration Reform (CPLAR) and the Project on Strengthening Environmental Management Authorities (SEMA).
SEMLA has assited in meeting the demands and needs of the country in an effcient and equitable way, by contributing to the establishment of the natural resource and environmental management system that supports economic growth and poverty alleviation, sustainable development and environmental protection, and strong local governance and participation of the population in decision making processes.
In the future, Swedish priorities for cooperation with Vietnam include environment and climate change. the cooperation between to countries will be shifted to a new height: partners driven cooperation. however, there must be appropriate mechanisms and arrangements set up for these priorities to be realised. MONRE is ready to participate in the new form of cooperation and will do it in a more proactive way and with more contribution, including finance.
MONRE’s priorities for cooperation in the future will be policies and legislation at national level, piloting and replicating models at local levels, particularly training on management knowledge and skills for the NRE staff at all levels. Also, environmental management on a national scale, in land and at sea, responding to climate change will be important domains for cooperation between MONRE and Swedish partners and others.
Cooperation with our Swedish friends, the traditional and reliable partners, is always a priority and wish by MONRE.
HE. MARIE OTTOSSON,
Deputy Head of mission, Embassy of Sweden in Vietnam.
It is my honour to be invited to contribute a few words to open this brochure marking the completion of the SEMLA programme.
On the 11th of January 1969 Sweden and Vietnam decided to establish diplomatic relations. Sweden was the first European country to establish such relations with Vietnam, and in the intervening years the two nations have developed a close and long-standing friendship.
During this period, Vietnam has developed from a war-stricken country to a nation of unprecedented growth and development. With Vietnam now approaching middle-income status, Sweden is proud to be able to say that we have tried to actively contribute to this development through a wide range of projects and activities, with SEMLA just one example of the long-standing development cooperation between our two nations.
The SEMLA programme has been successful on a number of levels and i think we can be justifiably proud of its achievements. The programme has worked to help strengthen Vietnam’s capacity on integrated natural resource and environmental management from the central to local level. It has contributed to the development of the Law on Environment Protection, the Law on Chemical, the Law on Biodiversity and the ongoing revision of the 2003 land law. These are substantial contributions to the development of policy and legislation of the NRE sector.
The programme has also supported the organisational restructuring of MoNRE (Decree 25/2008/ND-CP), acting to develop and improve natural resources and environmental administration at all levels, encouraging strong and transparent organisation and the increasing effectiveness and co-ordination between agencies in line with the public administration reform process of the Government of Vietnam.
The programme has acted to support improved community awareness as well as promoting the participation of local people in land administration, environmental management and protection. This emphasis on a participatory, grassroots approach has been a signature feature of SEMLA, and one that i feel has helped ensure its impact at all levels.
On behalf of the government of Sweden, i would like to thank all our partners who have helped make this important project possible. We look forward to many more years of fruitful cooperation and the further growth of the firm friendship between Sweden and Vietnam.
HE. TRAN THE NGOC,
Chairman, SEMLA Programme Steering Board,
Deputy minister of Natural Resources and Environment.
The Vietnam–Sweden cooperation programme on Strengthening Environmental Management and Land Administration, better known as SEMLA, is a bilateral cooperation programme implemented under an agreement between the Vietnamese and Swedish governments between 2004 and 2009.
With the overall goal of supporting the creation and operation of more efective environmental and natural resources management systems in Vietnam, SEMLA has aimed to contribute to economic development and poverty reduction, sustainable environmental protection, and the strengthening of management capacity at all levels.
While semla has been designed to benefit Vietnam’s rural population, the programme has provided technical and management support to national authorities, promoted law enforcement at local levels, and instituted a range of pilot programmes which strive to ensure the land-use rights of local people and minimise environmental degradation and pollution. The programme has had a particular focus on the grassroots level, encouraging community participation in decision making wherever possible.
All people who have been involved in the programme’s implementation, public or private sector, and whether at the national, district, or commune level, have also been project benefciaries via SEMLA’s numerous capacity building activities.
The programme has been implemented for five years with the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, i am proud to say that after fve years of programme implementation SEMLA has been successful in meeting its original objectives, and i trust that the achievements of the programme will stand as a practical and signifcant contribution to the further development of the fruitful cooperation between the governments and people of Vietnam and Sweden, a relationship which has continued to deepen over the past forty years. On behalf of the SEMLA Programme Steering Board, we highly appreciate and convey our sincere thanks to those who have contributed to the programme’s success.
This publication is intended as a brief overview of SEMLA’s key programme results at the national level and in target provinces. It also seeks to disseminate the lessons and experiences obtained in programme implementation, and thus serve as a valuable source of reference for all readers concerned with environment and natural resources in general, and land administration and environmental protection in particular.