On June 11-13, Thai Nguyen University in partnership with the World Bank successfully organized the international conference on “Sustainable Development and Ethnic Minority Poverty Reduction” at Learning Resource Center - Thai Nguyen University, Vietnam.

The purpose of the conference was to bring together representatives from government, academia, civil society, and the development partners to reflect on and discuss issues on sustainable development and ethnic minority poverty reduction in the mountainous regions, focusing on both the Vietnamese experience and international experience in promoting rural development among remote and dispersed rural mountainous communities. 

The first day of the conference was scheduled for a site visit of poverty reduction models at La Hien Commune, Vo Nhai district. In the afternoon of the same day, the participants visited Tan Cuong Green Tea Village, Tan Cuong District.

On the second day, the conference proper was held and commenced with the welcome speeches of Victoria Kwakwa -  World Bank Country Director, Mr. Son Phuoc Hoan - Vice Chairman of Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA), Mr. Dang Viet Thuan - Vice Chairman of Thai Nguyen Provincial People’s Committee, and Assoc. Prof. Dang Van Minh - TNU Vice President that extremely inspired and motivated the participants.

During the conference, the plenary discussants focused their speeches on development policies, review and guiding principle in poverty reduction for minorities in the coming years, livelihood development for poverty reduction and made it clear that the business of sustainable development is one we must do and do well for the advantage of the ethnic minorities and our future generations who are disproportionately affected by poverty.  Mr. Ngo Truong Thi, Director General of National Office for Poverty Reduction, MOLISA presented a “Review of Poverty Reduction for Ethnic Minorities and Policies in Poverty Reduction for Ethnic Minorities in the Coming Years”, followed by the presentation of Mr. Vo Van Bay, Director of Program 135 of the Committee for Ethnic Minorities Affairs (CEMA) on “Policies for Ethnic Minorities  in Poverty Reduction and Socio-Economic Development in Mountainous Regions: Achievements of 2005-2013 Period and Vision to 2020”.

After the tea break, the paper on “Project Planning and Institutionalization of Economic Development Policies” of the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) was presented by Mr. Tran Ngoc Hung, Acting Director of MPI –Department of Local and Territorial Economy, followed by the paper presentation of the Ministry of Agriculture Research and Development (MARD) on the topic “Livelihood Development for Poverty Reduction for Ethnic Minorities in Mountainous Areas”. Aside from these plenary paper presentations which were delivered during the second and third days, there were eight (8) more interesting topics imparted by PRPP/MOLISA, BARD from Bangladesh, Global Heritage Fund in Peru, Manipur Central University-India, the World Bank, CARITAS, and CARE International in Vietnam on the following topics, respectively: “Donor Perspective on Poverty Reduction for Ethnic Minorities”, “Conservation Strategies and Approaches for Sustainable Development and Poverty  Alleviation in the Mountainous Areas of Nepal”, “Poverty alleviation and Rural Development Policies for Highlanders in the Central Andean Region of South America”, Ethnic Minorities in Vietnam and North East India”, “Building on Solid Foundations: Development Project for Indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian Peoples”, “Critical Issues in Achieving Sustainable Development of Ethnic Minorities in Vietnam”, and “Gender-based Violence: Issue on Sustainable Development and Ethnic Minority Poverty Reduction”.

             The plenary discussions were complemented by the remarkable views of the parallel discussants, and worthy ideas of the poster presenters from the northern, central and southern Vietnam and from more than 15 countries and international organizations. The parallel discussants have addressed a range of sustainable development and ethnic minority poverty reduction issues and challenges,   focused on the impact of market linkages, natural resource management, climate change, health and education, cultural diversity, and poverty analysis and evaluation. Accordingly, the conference was structured in such a way as to come up with strong development of policy and project level recommendations.

            At the closing ceremony, Ms. Jennifer Sara, Sector Manager of the Sustainable Development Department - the World Bank in Vietnam, expressed her deepest appreciation to the conference organizers headed by Thai Nguyen University and the World Bank for a very successful completion of the conference. Likewise, she thanked all paper presenters for sharing their thinking and views that led to the winning realization of the conference.

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