At the meeting (Source: congthuong.vn)

Hanoi (VNA) – The 46th Consultative Committee Meeting of the Colombo Plan (CCM46) kicked off in Hanoi on October 30. This is the first time Vietnam has hosted the Colombo Plan’s important session, which this year is being held to focus on gender equality.

The two-day events brings together nearly 100 delegates from 23 member nations, representatives from the Colombo Plan Secretariat and many of Vietnam’s ministries and agencies, as well as observers.

In his opening speech, Minister of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung highlighted the importance of the meeting, which occurs every two years, saying that the Colombo Plan’s top priority meet up aims to address shortcomings and set out orientations for cooperation among member countries over the next two years.

Minister Dung appreciated the valuable cooperation that the Colombo Plan has given Vietnam, especially in helping the country train more than 500 staff in various fields such as drug prevention, public administration, environmental protection, private economic development, and gender equality.

He stressed that Vietnam has selected the topic of gender equality for this meeting because it is an area of special concern that has been integrated into all socio-economic development programmes of the country.

Vietnam has achieved remarkable results in terms of gender equality measures, and is one of the countries with the best gender equality index, ranking second in the ASEAN region, he said.

The minister noted, however, that Vietnam still faces many challenges such as new requirements from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, domestic violence, violence against young girls, and women trafficking. He said it is important to strengthen close cooperation among member countries in sharing experiences, implementing gender equality programmes and courses, as well as continuing programmes in drug prevention and detoxification, especially synthetic drugs.

He emphasised Vietnam’s increasingly active participation in managing Colombo Plan activities, such as its successful candidacy for the position of Director of the Drug Advisory Programme in 2009-2011, and the General Secretary of the Colombo Plan for the 2018-2022 term.

Addressing the event as Chairman of the CCM46, Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung highlighted some of the positive effects from the training courses provided by the Colombo Plan to Vietnam during its national development.

He said the meeting offers a good opportunity for member countries to re-evaluate objectives and proposals that have been implemented in the last two years, and map out appropriate directions for the Colombo Plan in the time to come, towards improving its role and influence.

General Secretary of the Colombo Plan Phan Kieu Thu presented the target programme during her term, especially those goals for the next two years.

Participants also heard the annual report on the operation of the Colombo Plan’s Secretariat, as well as those on training and capacity building programmes.

They also discussed and agreed on orientations and activities of the Colombo Plan for the next two years, as well as commitments of each member country.

The Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific was conceived at the Commonwealth Conference on Foreign Affairs held in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in January 1950 and was launched on July 1, 1951, as a cooperative venture for the economic and social advancement of the peoples of South and Southeast Asia. 

It is based on the partnership concept for self-help and mutual help in the development process, with the focal areas being human resources development and south-south cooperation.

With 27 official members, the Colombo Plan is a forum for discussing development needs, sharing experience, implementing programmes for stronger socio-economic development, and supporting less developed countries in the region. 

The Colombo Plan mainly operates through organising training courses and helping its member nations develop human resources. It now runs four training programmes including the Drug Advisory Programme (DAP), the Programme for Public Administration and Environment (PPA&ENV), the Programme for Private Sector Development (PPSD), and the Long-Term Scholarships Programme (LTSP). 

Since it officially began its membership with the organisation in 2003, Vietnam has sent nearly 400 officials to attend training courses within the Colombo Plan’s cooperation programmes in the fields of drug prevention, public administration, reproductive health, and environmental protection. –VNA