In the last two decades, in international arena, sustainable development has attracted special attention and become a requirement of global development. Many summit conferences were convened to discuss this subject and issued a number of documents and important decisions.
In Vietnam, the view of rapid and sustainable development was perceived very early and reflected in many guidelines and resolutions of our Party. Early at the 3 General Party Congress of the III Tenure in 1960 and the IV Party Congress in 1976, our Party defined the objective “Rapidly, strongly and soundly advancing to socialism”. The General Party Congress of the VII Tenure passed the 1991-2000 socio-economic development strategy which emphasized that “economic growth should closely link with social equity and progress, cultural development and environment protection”. The General Party Congress of VIII Tenure highlighted a lesson “ Economic growth closely links with social progress and equity, preserve and bring into full play national character, protect environment and ecology”. The 2001-2010 socio-economic development strategy passed by the IX Tenure Party Congress affirmed that “To develop rapidly, efficiently and sustainably, economic growth associates with social progress and equity and environment protection”. The X Party Congress emphasized the lesson of rapid and sustainable development. In addition to contents on socio-economic development and environment, it also added the requirements for comprehensive human development and practicing democracy. Besides, the Congress defined the general objective of the 2006-2010 five year plan as “Further promoting both rapid, quality and sustainable economic development and human development”.
Evidently, the view on rapid and sustainable development has been early set forth by the Party and State and subsequently refined into the main and consistent theme in leading, managing and handling the national development in the last decades. Our State also delivered strong commitments on sustainable development.
Over the last 10 years of implementing the 2001-2010 socio-economic development strategy, our country has achieved very important and impressive outcomes.
The average economic growth was about 7.3%/year which was one of those highest growth rates of countries in the region. Average GDP per capita in 2010 is about USD 1,200 which surpasses threshold of low income developing countries. Economic structure has significantly shifted towards industrialization and modernization. Macroeconomic conditions is stable, fundamental balances remains sound, budget deficit and sovereign debts are under safe limit. Material and spiritual life of people is considerably improved. Real average income per capita has increased about 2.3 fold over the last 10 years. Poverty reduction has attained outstanding outcomes which is highly appreciated by international community. The income gap between urban and rural areas decreased from 2.3 times in 1999 to 2 times in 2008. Children have been given due care and protection. The percentage of malnourished children under 5 year old decreased from 33.8% to less than 18%. Average life-span of the people increased from 67 to 72 year old. Lower secondary education has been universalized across the country. Our human development index (HDI) unceasingly increased. Its 2008 index was 0.733 which fell into the upper average nations in the world. The level of cultural appreciation and access to information by the people was apparently increased. Social security and social welfare was attached great importance and gradually expanded. Besides great results in socializing the development of social sectors, State budget financing for these sectors has constantly increased. Medical insurance coverage has been expanded from 13.4% in 2000 up to 62% in 2010. Gender equity posted various progress, the ratio of women holding position of parliament members and important responsibility in the political system has increased. In 2008, Vietnam accomplished most of millennium goals set forth the year of 2015.
Environment protection has been given due attention and has posted progress. Democracy in society has continually been expanded, hence society is more opened and consentaneous. National defense and security has been held firmly. Politics and society have been stable. The appearance of our country experienced a lot of changes. The strength and position of our nation became more powerful. Vietnam’s status is elevated in international arena. Necessary pre-requisites are created for developing rapidly and sustainably, and improving quality of people’s life.
Besides the aforesaid results, however, there exists a number of weaknesses and mismatch. Achievement attained do not match with potentiality. Quality, productivity, efficiency and competitiveness of the economy remain low. Economic growth largely depends on extensive development factors and slowly shifts to deepening. Mobilization and utilization of resources are rather limited. Waste and loss are rampant. Investment efficiency remains low. Consumption of energy and materials are high. The exploitation and use of natural resources are irrational and economical. Macro-economic fundamentals remain fragile while budget deficit and trade deficit are sizable, and inflation refuses to subside. Environment and ecology in some places are heavily polluted.
In culture and society, there are a number of pending matters and pressing issues prolong in some aspects. Social evils tends to increase. Traffic jam and accidents are at serious level. Corruption is yet pushed back. Quality of education and training, especially at tertiary education and vocational training are poor and slowly improved. Hospitals are too crowded with low quality medical services.
The above-mentioned limitation and weaknesses partly stems from objective reasons while subjective factors act as the main cause, such that: sustainable development has not been fully perceived and accordingly specified consistently in policies, programming, planning and regulatory tools. In management and operation, it is biased on growth rate without giving due consideration to quality and sustainability of the development. Drastic changes is not seen in resolution of pressing social problems. The process of programming and planning, the formulation of socio-economic development projects and construction thereof, the implementation of environment protection policy have not been closely incorporated and coordinated. There has been no apparent and effective mechanism of management and supervision of sustainable development. The mastership of the people, especially the direct democracy, has not been brought into full play.
Based on the above-mentioned realities, the draft of 2011-2020 socio-economic development strategy highlights a lesson “Particular consideration should be given to quality, effectiveness and sustainability of the development etc, promoting harmonious relationship between the rate and quality of the growth” and defines that “Rapid development should associate with sustainable development which is the throughout demand of the strategy”. This demand encompasses such key factors as “developing sustainably the economy, maintaining sound and stable macro-economics and ensuring economic security. Enhancing economic structure shifting, transforming growth model, prioritizing quality, productivity, effectiveness and competitiveness, attaching great importance to the deepening of development and intellectual economy. Economic growth must harmoniously associate with social equity and progress. Constantly improving the quality of people’s life. Socio-economic development goes hang in hand with environment protection and improvement. Our country acquires appropriate conditions to develop rapidly which is also an objective pressing requirement. Sustainable development is the foundation for rapid development and vice versa. They intertwine themselves in programming, planning and socio-economic development policy. Special attention should be given to social and political stability, strengthening of national defense and security, protection of independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity so as to pave the way for rapid and sustainable development”.
To realize the view of rapid and sustainable development, there requires a synchronous implementation of development orientations defined in the draft of the strategy, of which the following tasks and solutions should be effectively carried out:
Firstly, through comprehensive solutions and strength, resolutely and firmly holding fast to independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, assuring political security and social order, taking an initiative and active stand in international integration, creating peaceful environment and favorable conditions for national development. These are the advantage of our country and the most pre-requisite for the rapid and sustainable development.
Secondly, keeping macroeconomics and fundamentals of the economy stable, assuring food and energy security as well as safe and efficient operation of financial institutions.
Our generation witnessed food crisis and energy crisis, the latest financial crisis and global economic recession in 2007-2009 and the current public debt crisis in some countries. These crises were the consequences of non-sustainable and insecure development which created global instability and badly affected the growth of all most every country, decreased the world economy, brought about high level of unemployment and pervasive unrest etc.
In our country, coupled with weaknesses and mismatch in macro management, the global financial crisis and economic recession adversely impacted on national development, drove up inflation, pushed back growth rate, and created hardship to people’s life. International and domestic experiences show that holding fast food and energy and financial security, keeping inflation in check, maintaining stability of macroeconomics, preserving sound fundamentals are both the premise for high growth rate and the content of sustainable development. This is the most important task in economic management of every country.
Thirdly, mobilizing and effectively using all resources to ensure high growth rate and improve quality of the growth.
Assuring high and stable growth rate and constantly improving the quality of growth are the most decisive factor for rapid and sustainable development. Only acquiring high growth rate, can our country develop rapidly and narrow the gap with other countries, and produce more resources needed for social development, human development, development investment in needy areas, and reduction of development gap between regions in the country, expansion of social welfare and social security, and implementation of social equity and progress. Availing ourselves of the advantage in human resources, stable society and politics, favorable geo-economic location and the status of newcomer country, we have necessary conditions to pursue rapid development. On the other hand, only by improving quality of growth, can we increase the efficiency and effectiveness in using capital and competitiveness of the economy, and expand markets for our products in the face of increasingly fierce competition. In doing so, we can produce greater added value for the country, increase the accumulation in the economy and generate needed resources for high and stable growth in a long period term.
To achieve high growth with average rate 7-8% per year, one should dismantle all institutional and administrative procedure obstruction, liberate and strongly develop productive forces, promote scientific and technological level. To create all conditions for private economic sector to develop and job creation. On the other hand, it is necessary to renew and restructure state owned enterprises and increase efficiency and effectiveness thereof with a view to making them become important instrument in implementing structural policy and directing markets. Practicing multiple-ownership, transparency and publicity, improving corporate governance and administration, and making state owned enterprises operate in equal footing and level playing field conditions with other economic sectors according to market mechanism. Only by doing so, one can promote the efficiency of state owned enterprises and the development of state owned enterprises does not crowd out businesses of private economic sector which is now the primary driving force of growth.
Raising the efficiency of the State investment is a significant factor to ensure the quality of growth. In the next 10 years, investment should be further concentrated on a synchronous system of social and economic infrastructure. Step by step modernizing infrastructure system which, in its turn, facilitates rapid and sustainable growth. Improving supervisory mechanism and enhancing the supervision of investment. Adopting swift measures and actions against corruption, loss and waste in State investment.
A pressing requirement in the coming strategic period is to restructure the economy in three key aspects: (1) restructuring production and services industries in consideration of economic regions across the country, and developing supportive industry. It is a must to shift from the extensive growth model based on incremental capital and low-skill human resources to a new model which properly combining both extensive and intensive growth on the basis of applying achievements of science and technology, quality human resources and modern management skills. In the next decade, especially in its early years, we are yet able to completely renounce the extensive growth model. Because, following intensive growth model, we need modern technology and quality human resources. They can only be available through a process of capital accumulation and human development taken place at each enterprises and the economy as a whole. Furthermore, sustainable development, by its nature, is associated with job creation and full employment while our laborers, especially in rural areas, are facing underemployment. Nevertheless, we need to take swift actions to synchronously create pre-requisites to pave the way for intensive growth in the early years of the next strategic period, first of all in areas where science and technology rapidly develop and our country is capable. It is the primary approach to raise the quality of growth; (2) restructuring enterprises and fostering domestic businesses to operate efficiently, competitively and become popular brand names in markets; (3) adjusting market strategy, paying more attention to domestic markets while diversifying and expanding foreign markets. Effectively carried out the above-mentioned contents will not only increase the quality of growth, the independence and self-reliance of the economy, lessen adverse impacts of external shocks and sustain national development, but also help our businesses entities to participate in global production network and global value chain which is the main development stream in the context of globalization and international integration.
In addition to the improvement of institutional setting of market economy and administrative reform, it is necessary to heighten the pioneering and engineering role of the State, especially in the early years of industrialization process, by means of appropriate policies on economic structure and regional development guidelines.
Fourthly, developing culture and society in harmony with economic development, constantly improving material and spiritual life of the people, practicing social equity and progress in each policy and stage of development.
Culture is the foundation of the society, the constituting factor of stable and long-lasting value and particular national character of a nation. Culture operates as a mighty social driving force and penetrates into development process. The development of each era in each nation is imbrued with cultural character. Based on cultural foundation, human not only handles the relations with fellow-creature and natural environment in the present life, but also solves the relations with future generations in the course of development. In this sense, culture is not only the outcome of rapid and sustainable development but also the driving force of such development. Cultural development should be put into equally-footing to and harmonious relationship with economic development. Efforts should be spared for developing healthy life, lifestyle and cultural environment. Promoting all cultural aspects so as to enhance fine values of the nation and absorb cultural quintessence of mankind and make it be both spiritual foundation of society and development momentum.
Practicing social equity and progress is an important content of sustainable development. It is also the norm reflecting the nature of our regime. Serious inequity and polarization creates social conflicts in a number of countries in the world and erodes the growth. Therefore, our Party decides to realize social equity and progress in each policy and stage of development. We will further concentrate on poverty reduction, diversify resources and mode of implementation so as to sustainably reduce poverty. We encourage people to get rich legally, and at the same time limit the polarization through income distribution policy and the development of open and effective social security and social welfare systems. Continuing to streamline the mechanism of distribution at business entities and salary and wage policy in order to ensure equity of interests which, in turn, acts as driving force for socio-economic development.
Concentrating efforts for developing education and training, especially tertiary and vocational training, in order to turn out an appropriate structure of quality labor force in response to the need of the restructuring of the economy and transformation of growth model. Strongly enhancing medical services and promoting health care activities.
Directing resolutely and comprehensively , and mobilizing the strength of entire political system to attain solid and apparent changes in the fight against corruption, social evils and traffic accidents.
Fifthly, bringing into full play the mastership of the people, practicing widely democracy, especially direct democracy, fostering an open and consensus society.
Practicing democracy is an constituent of sustainable development, and was stated clearly by the Party at the X Party Congress. Practicing democracy is to multiply the contents of sustainable development. It is stemming from a very important stance which considers human is both objective and subject of the development. Human resources is a long-term competitive advantage and decisive factor to the development of a nation. Widely practicing democracy will promote the creativity of individuals which contributes to the rapid and sustainable development of our country. The higher democracy the deeper social consensus is and the great national unity is further fortified.
To bring democracy into full play and make it become resources for development, two conditions should be satisfied: 1/ creating equal opportunity for everybody to learn and building a learning society in order to raise people’s knowledge; 2/ practicing mastership of the people through institutional settings necessary for insuring democracy in all facets of social life and expanding direct democracy. Democracy is closely linked with discipline and laws.
One may say that the State of Law and market economy associate, the assurance of social security and social welfare, socialist democracy are three fundamental pillars in development of our country under the leadership of the Party. Of which democracy is both the objective and driving force. These three pillars should be strong and in synch with each other. A weak pillar will not only deter the proper operation of other pillars but also affect the general development.
Sixthly, economic growth should associate with the protection and improvement of environment.
Protecting and improving environment is also an important component of sustainable development. Polluted environment and the exhaustion of natural resources, eroded solid, desertification, climate change, sea level rise etc are contracting our living space, badly affect present life and threaten the development of future generation.
In relation to our country, polluted environment and threats of climate change and sea level rise are major challenges. Therefore, economic development should closely linked with environmental protection and improvement, actively preparing for sea level rise, applying energy-saving technologies, promoting green economy. These are strongest elements affecting sustainable development. They must be incorporated into the socio-economic development strategy of the country, and that of each industry, province and economic entity.
Effectively carrying out Rapid and sustainable socio-economic development requires revolutionary and clear change in perception, strong transformation of thinking, and are incorporated in every policy, programming, planning, project and action plan. The implementation thereof should be drastically at all branches, levels with consensus and full participation of entire political system, business community and all the people across the country.
We strongly believe that under the leadership of the Party, exploiting the strength of the great national unity, and the effective execution of the State, the efforts of the people and the army, our country will definitely enter a new stage of rapid and sustainable development./.
(1) Brundtiand Report of the World Committee of Environment and Development (WCED)
(2) Decision No 153 in 2004 of the Prime Minister on the guideline of sustainable development strategy in Vietnam; establishment of National Sustainable Development Council; preparing the project on the implementation of the 21 agenda and other millennium objectives and other documents. c
(3) In 2010 GDP growth estimate is of 6.5%, and the 2001-2010 average growth rate would be 7.27%.