The tactics “3Vs” to drive a gender-inclusive circular economy

Writer of the op-ed: Mrs. Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Viet Nam

As published in Viet Nam Investment Review on 21 March, 2022

At the UN Environment Assembly on March 2, the world’s ministers of the environment endorsed key resolutions that established a solid foundation for the introduction of an international legally binding agreement to end plastic pollution and a resolution to enhance circular economy as a key contribution to achieving sustainable consumption and production.

For the first time, the contributions of the informal waste workers – who are typically low-paid workers who collect recyclable waste – have been recognised in an environmental resolution. Moving forward, the intergovernmental negotiating committee will consider the lessons and best practices from the work of informal waste workers. While this inclusion is something to celebrate, there was no specific mention of women and the gendered aspects of the informal waste sector.

Yet globally, women make up the majority of the workforce working in the informal waste management sector. Here in Viet Nam, over 60 per cent of them are women who work in precarious situations and are exposed to harmful substances and chemicals along the value chains in the textile, agriculture, or waste sectors. Women are disproportionally impacted by plastic pollution. They also have direct exposure to toxic gases and emissions from waste-burning, cooking fuels, and can suffer from heat-related diseases and skyrocketing air pollution levels.

Last November, Viet Nam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh explained at COP26 in Glasgow the need for Viet Nam to transition to a development model towards a green, circular, sustainable, inclusive, and humanistic economy. As Viet Nam strives to build back better from the pandemic, it is imperative to set the stage to work towards gender equality, circular economy, and climate action simultaneously as interconnected issues to deliver the transformational systemic change needed to protect the planet and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Now is the time to take action. To set in motion a transition to a just circular economy model, we propose a three V model to empower women and generate a green, inclusive, economic rebound.

Value, venture, and velocity

Firstly, we must value, welcome, and acknowledge the contributions of all women, especially women from rural areas, ethnic minorities, and young women who are already working towards a greener and more inclusive sustainable development, advocating for renewable energy, decarbonising their agricultural production, or scaling-up innovative alternatives to plastics.

For example, more than 1,500 women informal waste workers in five cities have joined local groups set up by women’s unions. They receive training on health and safety, waste segregation, and circular principles. They can also access revolving funds managed and disbursed by women’s groups to purchase equipment that will add value to their work and enhance their livelihoods.

Another example is women farmer cooperatives in the south-central province of Binh Thuan, which have led the adoption of low-carbon practices throughout the dragon fruit value chains. Along with the greening of production, the additional training in e-commerce provided extra support to overcome economic losses incurred by pandemic restrictions and broaden their customer base.

Throughout these interventions, we have witnessed the critical roles of the women’s union and women-led cooperatives that are increasing the skills and knowledge of women who are already engaged in critical activities, but the reach of this knowledge goes beyond these women and directly permeates throughout their communities.

Secondly, we must design new ventures that embed women in policy-making processes for a just and inclusive transition. Bottlenecks exist that hamper Vietnamese women from fully benefiting from, and contributing to, the circular transition. These include limited participation in policy formulation, lack of systematic gender mainstreaming of industrial policies, limited access to financial and technical resources and concentration in the informal sector, and the burden of unpaid care work.

For instance, it is critical to ensure that the current trend of formalisation of the waste management sector is not achieved at the expense of women. In this connection, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is setting up an inclusive material recovery facility in the south-central province of Binh Dinh to generate direct and indirect employment for women working across the waste value chains while piloting plastic reduction projects in the fishery sector, with financial support from the Norwegian government.

Women are also found to be more sustainable consumers and inclined to adopt greener and sustainable practices, from water savings to the purchase of eco-labelled products or the use of low-carbon transportation modes. The emergence of social impact business ecosystems in Viet Nam, mainly driven by women, also reflects the influence of women in changing both consumption and production patterns for circularity.

Thirdly, we must commit to expanding the opportunities for women to take leading roles that give velocity and drive to the transition. Circular economic and climate policies will have implications for the future of jobs. A recent study by the UNDP in Indonesia found that 75 per cent of the 4.4 million jobs created by adopting circular opportunities in four sectors will be for women because sectors traditionally employing more men will be displaced. This means that we need to considerably invest in educating the new generation of women engineers, architects, scientists, and urban planners.

Extending support

With any transition, there is a need to ensure that all people, especially women and marginalised communities, are cushioned from changes that might negatively impact their livelihoods.

Many countries, such as South Korea, Singapore, and South Africa have developed social inclusivity packages to support and accelerate the green and sustainable recovery of their economies in a just manner.

These include building the capacities and re-skilling workers from polluting industries, mobilising international climate finance that will benefit women and marginalised groups, prioritising measures that deliver on co-benefits, providing technical and financial support to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises for green pre-commercial opportunities, developing strategic partnerships between the private sector, government, and civil society organisations.

With UNDP support, the Viet Nam Circular Economy Hub is diving into all aspects of transitioning to a carbon-neutral circular economy, from technical aspects to social and financial aspects, to ensure a just transition.

The current global momentum around the circular economy provides an excellent opportunity to locate women’s equality and empowerment as fundamental guiding principles by adopting the three V’s of valuing women’s contributions, designing new ventures, and providing velocity for a just transition.

The UNDP calls on all its partners to embrace a new mission for an inclusive carbon-neutral circular economy – one that re-shapes value chains, re-thinks consumption patterns, and shakes up entrenched gender dynamics for a just transition that ensures that no-one is left behind.

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In the circular economy, women play a vital role. The “Women Driving Circular Economy” series, documented from existing practices, will shed a light on the founding and current progress of the trailblazing figures. Follow and stay tuned to the limited series, published in the Inspiring Stories section of the Viet Nam CE Hub.

28 Jun 22
Decision No. 450/QD-TTg of the Prime Minister: Approving the National Strategy for Environmental Protection to 2030, with a Vision to 2050 News, News, News

On April 13, 2022, Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh signed a decision approving the National Strategy for Environmental Protection to 2030, with a Vision to 2050. In order to successfully carry out the assigned tasks, the time required In the past, the Institute of Strategy and Policy on natural resources and environment (ISPONRE) On October 30, 2020, Minister Tran Hong Ha submitted to the Prime Minister for approval the National Strategy for Environmental Protection to 2030, with a vision to 2050 in Report No. 54/TTr-BTNMT.

On November 23, 2020, the Government Office issued Official Letter No. 9777/VPCP-NN to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for the direction of Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung on continuing to review the draft Strategy to ensure ensure compliance with the Law on Environmental Protection 2020 and Documents after the end of the 13th Party Congress; at the same time, working with ministries and branches also have different opinions on the targets of the Strategy. Following the direction of Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, ISPONRE reviewed the views, goals, tasks and solutions, worked with a number of ministries and branches and completed the Draft Strategy.

On April 29, 2021, Minister Tran Hong Ha signed and promulgated Official Letter No. 2007/BTNMT-VCLCS to the Prime Minister on reviewing and finalizing the Draft Strategy.

On July 27, 2021, Deputy Minister Vo Tuan Nhan signed and promulgated Official Letter No. 4204/BTNMT-VCLC to the Government Office on receiving comments from Ministries and sectors on the Draft National Strategy for Environmental Protection to 2030, with a vision to 2050.

On September 16, 2021, the Government Office issued Official Letter No. 6553/VPCP-NN to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on continuing to review the Draft National Environmental Protection Strategy to 2030, with a vision to 2050. Accordingly, the Institute has reviewed, supplemented and updated the content of the Draft Strategy to ensure consistency with the Decree guiding the implementation of the Law on Environmental Protection 2020, a number of newly issued documents and commitments of Viet Nam at COP26.

On April 13, 2022, Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh signed a decision approving the National Strategy for Environmental Protection to 2030, with a Vision to 2050. approved strategy with the view that environment is the conditions, foundations and prerequisites for sustainable socio-economic development, so economic development must be in harmony with nature, respect natural laws, and do not trade off the environment for economic growth. Environmental protection is the responsibility of the whole political system and society as a whole, in which local authorities, businesses, communities and people play an important role. Protecting the environment must take the protection of people’s health as a top goal. Prioritize proactively preventing and controlling pollution, focusing on solving key and urgent environmental issues; overcoming pollution, degradation, improving environmental quality, combined with nature conservation and biodiversity, contributing to climate change response.

The objective of the Strategy is to prevent the trend of increasing pollution and environmental degradation by 2030, solve urgent environmental problems, and gradually improve and restore environmental quality; prevent biodiversity loss. Improve capacity to proactively respond to climate change; ensuring environmental security, building and developing models of circular economy, green economy, low carbon, striving to achieve the country’s sustainable development goals.

The National Environmental Protection Strategy defines a vision that by 2050, Viet Nam’s environment will be of good quality, ensuring the people’s right to live in a clean and safe environment; biodiversity is preserved, conserved, and ecological balance is ensured; proactively respond to climate change; A society in harmony with nature, a circular economy, a green and low-carbon economy is formed and developed, towards the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.

Strategic tasks set out:

– Actively prevent, control and prevent adverse impacts on the environment and environmental incidents.

– Solve key and urgent environmental issues; overcome environmental pollution and degradation; maintain and improve the quality and hygiene of the environment.

– Conserve nature and biodiversity, promote environmental protection in the exploitation and use of resources.

– Actively protect the environment to contribute to improving capacity to adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

To carry out the above tasks, first of all, it is necessary to renew the thinking of all levels and branches; raising awareness and awareness of environmental protection of businesses, communities and people. Continue to improve the system of policies and laws on environmental protection in line with market economic institutions, improve the organizational structure, and speed up the reform of administrative procedures in environmental protection. Besides, it is necessary to strongly apply science and technology, promote innovation and digital transformation; building technical infrastructure, monitoring network and environmental database, and at the same time promoting international cooperation on environmental protection in the context of deep integration of the economy.

For details of the Decision, please see here.has presided over and coordinated with relevant units to research and develop a draft national strategy for environmental protection to 2030, with a vision to 2050. .