Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
Thua Thien-Hue (VNA) – Religions in Vietnam are called to share responsibility with society and the entire nation in protecting the environment and responding to climate change during their first-ever conference to seek stronger role in the issues held in central Thua Thien-Hue province on December 2.

President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan said the conference is significant at a time when world leaders are debating the same issue at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Paris.

Vietnam is facing huge challenges caused by environmental pollution and degradation across urban, rural areas, industrial zones and coastal areas, he noted.

Experts warned that without adequate attention given to the issue, GDP could lose 3 percent to environmental pollution for every 1 percent it gains, Nhan said.

He stated that efforts should equally be made for economic development and environmental protection and the preservation of environment should be a crucial goal of sustainable development.

The front leader stressed that as an integral part of the nation, 14 religions with over 22 million dignitaries and followers nationwide have actively joined hands with people in protecting the environment and coping with climate change.

This conference offers an opportunity for the religions to seek increased coordination with the Party, State and the Vietnam Fatherland Front as well in the combat, he noted.

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Linh Ngoc underlined the need to reform communication campaigns, accelerate the research and application and scientific and technological advances, increase State management and step up international cooperation in this field.

The move aims to turn the challenges in environmental protection and climate change resilience into opportunities and momentums for development, he said.

General Secretary of the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) Anne Marie Helland said religious groups play a vital role in environmental protection and climate change response.

The NCA General Secretary said although religious people are committed and dedicated, they should be equipped with more capacity, knowledge and experience in the front.

According to Anne Marie Helland, Vietnam is one of the countries worldwide affected by climate change.

Although the Vietnamese Government has exerted great efforts in climate change adaption, the struggle needs more collective endeavours, closer cooperation between agencies and involvement of people of all social strata, she said.

The conference, co-organised by the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee’s Standing Board, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the NCA, heard models of environmental protection and climate change response carried out at localities, including those deployed by religious people.

At the event, the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha sent out a message calling on people to protect the environment in a sustainable fashion through their practical actions.

Meanwhile, the Protestants’ community urged for an end to deforestation and changes in lifestyle that are harmful to the environment.

The conference also featured the signing of a cooperation programme between the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee’s Standing Board, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and religions, a bird release ceremony, a bike parade, an art performance and an exhibition.-VNA