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Asia-Pacific lawmakers call for regional cooperation

Released at: 21:55, 20/01/2018

Asia-Pacific lawmakers call for regional cooperation

Deputy PM Vu Duc Dam speaks at the APPF-26 third session on Jan. 20 (Photo: VGP)

Third plenary session of Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum on January 20 sees discussions on climate change response, resources for sustainable development, and cooperation in culture-tourism.

by Long Van

The 26th Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF-26), being held on January18, 19 and 20, engaged in important discussions on regional cooperation and development issues during its third plenary session on the morning of its third day.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam was quoted by the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) as saying in his keynote address that “climate change and rising sea levels are no longer potential risks, but rather a clear and present danger,” adding that “in Hanoi, just last summer, temperatures reached record highs for the last four decades.”

“If sea levels rise 1 meter, roughly 40 per cent of the Mekong Delta will be underwater,” he went on. “Rice production in the area is currently 12 million tonnes per year, of which 6 million tonnes are exported, and roughly 10-12 percent of our population would be directly impacted, with a loss of 10 per cent of GDP.”

He called on every country in the region to develop a legal framework, system of regulations, policies, and priority resources to respond to climate change. “We must make it so that all of society understands and starts from what seem like small and simple acts to tasks that require technology and major resources, such as a gradual reduction in the use of fossil fuels and the development of renewable, clean energy, with the aim of developing a low carbon economy and fostering green growth,” he said.

Speaking about resources for sustainable development, Deputy Prime Minister Dam suggested APPF parliaments formulate legal systems that clearly specify the rights and responsibilities of organizations and individuals, give priority to resources for implementing the sustainable development goals (SDGs), mainstream SDG issues into public expenditure programs, and strengthen private investment and public private partnerships.

He later emphasized the importance of cooperation among parliaments, as the legislative bodies have the final say about many pressing issues.

The Deputy Prime Minister also lauded the role of the APPF, which has proven its relevance in regional issues, promoted reforms to better adapt to changing regional and global developments, and continued to build on parliamentary diplomacy to supplement the effective implementation of cooperation programs with other regional mechanisms, including APEC.

According to a report from VNA, the third plenary session addressed three key dimensions of regional cooperation: climate change response, resources for sustainable development, and culture-tourism cooperation.

Representing the Vietnamese delegation, Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly Uong Chu Luu proposed lawmakers promote the APPF’s role in assisting the implementation of work items under national programs for responding to climate change, strengthen the development of policies and international law and monitor law enforcement relating to climate change, and reserve priority for the allocation of resources and funding that responds to climate change in economic development and major national investment projects.

Mr. Luu also urged the APPF to promote international cooperation in disaster preparedness and increase dialogue, information, and experience sharing in promoting the implementation of the Paris Agreement in the Asia-Pacific region.

Senator Loren B. Legarda, Chair of the Philippines’ Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and Senate Committee on Climate Change, urged parliaments to ensure policies are issued along with proper budgets and inspections, so they will be effective in alleviating the impacts of climate change in line with the Paris Agreement.

She suggested the region work to turn itself from an area vulnerable to climate change into being self-reliant against natural disasters via scientific research and cooperation in finance, technology transfer, experience sharing, and capacity building.

The Asia-Pacific should build a common legal framework on climate change to strengthen regional commitments in the arena, she added.

Mr. Stephen Patrick John, a Member of the Australian Parliament, said the Australian Government supports the APEC 2017 declaration on sustainable development and the promotion of public awareness on tourism’s role in boosting growth.

Noting that most of the five biggest markets for Australia’s tourism sector are in the Asia-Pacific, he said the country backs the opening of direct air routes and developing tourism infrastructure.

He stressed the importance of having measures to protect future tourism sites and specific mechanisms for tourism management.

Founded in Tokyo, Japan in 1993, the 27-member APPF is a mechanism that enables parliamentarians to discuss issues of common concern and to deepen their understanding of the region and the interests and experience of its diverse members. The Forum’s proceedings address political, security, economic, social and cultural issues, thus furthering regional cooperation and building relations between and among parliamentarians from the Asia-Pacific region.

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