In a recent media interview, the diplomat said the country is facing numerous challenges such as increased salinity levels and extreme weather events, whilst the “very dynamic economy” needs energy to continue its economic development.
“So against that background, it's a big challenge to get the climate policy right,” he said.
Ambassador Ward, therefore, outlined how impressed he is very by the commitments set out by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, the UK, last November.
As part of his remarks, PM Chinh said that as a developing nation, the country has embarked on industrialisation for over the past three decades.
Boasting advantages in renewable energy, the nation will build and put a score of measures in place to cut greenhouse gas emissions by its own resources, together with international cooperation and support, especially from developed countries. This is in terms of both finance and technological transfer, the PM said, stressing that the move aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
“So there's a lot of work that we can do together. And the international community also increased its commitment to provide finance to developing countries, such as Vietnam,” Ambassador Ward said.
Specifically, the UK has announced new funding for the ASEAN Green Climate Fund, which is set to provide good investment opportunities in the renewable energy sphere.
“We want to work with Vietnam and other big donors and institutions like the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and other partners to ensure the climate finance is flowing to Vietnam, particularly to the grid,” he emphasized.
The diplomat assesed that there are lots of private sector companies that are keen to invest in solar power in wind power, thereby helping the country to realise its green economic potential.
Regarding the joint strategic partnership in 2021, Ambassador Ward said that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, relations have made great strides in politics, security, and economics.
He highlighted the exchange of delegations in the year, including a trip to the UK by PM Chinh from October 31 to November 2, in addition to an official visit to Vietnam by British Secretary of State for Defence Robert Ben Lobban Wallace in July.
As members of the UN Security Council, both Vietnam and the UK compared notes on global security issues, according to the Ambassador.
The highlight of last year was the signing and implementation of the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, which officially took effect from May 1 and is in the process of creating greater opportunities for firms from both nations.
“So this is an excellent time for Vietnamese businesses to be exporting to the UK and British businesses to be exporting to Vietnam,” he said, adding that his nation desires to share its experience with Vietnam in high tech, e-commerce and financial technology.
Regarding the ongoing fight against COVID-19, the Ambassador said Vietnam has done "very well” in speeding up its vaccination programme, which has saved many lives in the Southeast Asian nation.
“The number one achievement is having a high vaccination rate,” he said, “Your vaccination rate is the same as or perhaps even higher than the UK. So that's an excellent achievement.”
Furthermore, Vietnam has also modified procedures of tracking and tracing to ensure that it can be balanced against living with COVID-19.
He suggested the country focus more on supporting the economic recovery and getting children back to school this year.
So far, the UK has donated over 700,000 vaccine doses to the country, and more will come to via the COVAX Facility. The UK has also offered equipment to Vietnamese hospitals, particularly electronic monitors and electronic dosage pumps, which help give a good standard of treatment to the small number of people who unfortunately get very ill with the disease.
The UK will therefore continue to assist Vietnam in the pandemic combat, and co-ordination in science and technology, especially in tracking new variants, the Ambassador pledged.
The British Embassy said more than two million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine donated by the UK via the COVAX Facility arrived in Vietnam on January 25, helping the country to speed up its large-scale vaccine rollout and speed up economic reopening.