UN's Country Annual Results Report for Vietnam in 2022: Strides Made Amidst Challenges and Disappointments

UN's Country Annual Results Report for Vietnam in 2022: Strides Made Amidst Challenges and Disappointments

The year 2022 in Vietnam was marred by controversy and scandal as the nation faced several high-profile human rights issues that drew international attention. Instances of injustice, such as the prosecution of four environmental activists, the government's disregard for sexual harassment cases, and the tightening of internet freedom, continued to tarnish the country's reputation.

Despite these challenges, Vietnam also experienced improvements in other areas, such as in economic growth and stability, improvements in the health sector, and the reduction of the country’s unemployment rate.

These improvements and other significant developments are examined in the recently released United Nations (UN) country report.

A Recovering Economy

On June 19, 2023, the United Nations released its annual country report on Vietnam. This document presents empirical data and statistics that illustrate the many positive developments the country has made in 2022. Aside from this, the report also outlines several projects that Vietnam will work on, together with the UN and its development partners, in the coming years.

In terms of its economy, Vietnam has jump-started its economic growth following the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and its controversial lockdowns. The country boasted a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 8.02 in 2022, a staggering increase when compared to its GDP in 2020 and 2021. This growth is mainly due to the contributions of Vietnam’s service sector, industry, and agriculture.

Vietnam has also managed to keep inflation low at 3.2%, despite the global surge in fuel and food prices, as well as supply chain disruptions during the first half of 2022.  

Other positive indicators mentioned in the report include Vietnam’s drastic reduction in multi-dimensional poverty (from 9.0% in 2016 to 3.6% in 2022), health insurance access (91%), progress in the digital transformation, which ideally leads to more convenient access to basic government services, and changes in senior government leadership due to the anti-corruption campaign. However, it should be noted that a majority of Vietnam’s workforce (68.5%) is not formally employed, making access to health insurance significantly less than what is indicated in the report.

Progress Towards Inclusive Social Development

The report further provides an overview of the collaborative projects between Vietnam, the UN, and other development partners, with the shared objective of helping the country achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. This Cooperative Framework (CF) is expected to run from 2022-2026 and will focus on “COVID-19 response and recovery, advancing inclusive social development by focusing on quality education, affordable healthcare and inclusive social protection, promoting green energy and energy efficiency, mitigating climate change impacts and environmental degradation, advancing prosperity through economic and digital transformation, and strengthening governance and access to justice.”

Regarding improvements to education, the report states that various initiatives in Vietnam are being undertaken in order to strengthen education policies to make learning “gender-transformative, innovative, equitable and inclusive.” The reopening of schools, the training of teachers in the mental health management of students, the strengthening of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) courses, more comprehensive programs regarding sex education, and amendments to laws that make education more accessible to persons with disabilities, are provided as examples of the UN’s collaboration with Vietnam to achieve these goals.

The UN report also provides several examples of various improvements in Vietnam’s healthcare system. The document states that the issue of malnutrition in the country is being addressed by providing additional funding to government programs. Likewise, several legal documents, such as the Law on Examination and Treatment, have been revised in 2022, which should lead to an improvement in both accessibility and the quality of available health services. The UN has also focused on proper reproductive health education, with particular attention being given to HIV/AIDS; the report states that these efforts have led to a decrease in Vietnam’s infant mortality rate. Water safety in several parts of the country is also being addressed by the implementation of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program in rural areas.

Instances of improved social care and social protection in Vietnam are mentioned in the report. The document states that social insurance coverage increased from 32.6% in 2020 to 38.0 in 2022. Likewise, unemployment insurance coverage increased from 26.8% to 31.2%. The UN also made small strides in expanding the reach of social services by testing the digitization of social registration and assistance in eight provinces. The efforts of the UN and other development partners in assisting the Vietnamese government to revise laws pertaining to social services, conducting training for caregivers, and providing support and care to orphans are also mentioned in the report.

The collaboration between the UN, the Vietnamese government, and other development partners has led to the country making progress towards achieving several of the SDGs. The report states that the UN’s efforts have led to 56.3% of the SDGs making good progress, 9.7% being partially on track, 4.9% having no progress, and the remaining 29.1% lacking adequate data or having no planned target in 2022 to make an accurate record.

Visualization of the progress of Vietnam’s SDGs in 2022.

Progress Towards Climate Change Response, Disaster Resiliency, and Environmental Sustainability

The UN report highlights the importance of community engagement and risk communications in disaster prevention and has worked with the Vietnam Disaster Management Authority (VDMA) in addressing this issue. Together with other key partners, they strived to raise awareness, organize outreach activities, and encourage community participation in 2022. For instance, the successful “Together we act – For a safe, clean and green Viet Nam for every child” media campaign attracted more than 33,000 participants and 1.6 million viewers.

Disaster monitoring was also improved in 2022. The UN provided technical assistance to the VDMA as well as trained several VDMA officials in proper data collection, increasing Vietnam’s capability to predict and respond to the potential impact of future calamities.

The UN also delivered humanitarian support to Vietnamese communities that were affected by Typhoon Noru and tropical storm Sonca in  September and October 2022. The report states that the UN was able to provide 300 households with water-tight drums to protect food and other assets, disburse financial aid to another 300 more affected households, and construct 73 storm-and-flood-resilient houses built in Quang Binh.

Progress towards sustainable production and consumption was also achieved in 2022. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) supported legal amendments that developed guidelines for the reuse of industrial solid waste. Aside from this, UN-Habitat also aided in the implementation of Decision 287/QĐ-TTg on Mekong Delta Planning period 2021-2030, which aims to sustainably manage water resources and protect coastal areas by 2050.

The decarbonization of Vietnam was also addressed to some degree in 2022. The UN was able to produce three technical standards that would reduce the country’s carbon emissions: “charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, battery swapping stations for electric vehicles and the  National Action Plan on environmentally-friendly passenger transport.” Likewise, the EmPower Project was able to establish financial mechanisms to support women’s entrepreneurship; the report states that more than 1,000 women had their lives improved because of this initiative. Vietnam, with the aid of the UN, was also able to circumvent 2.4 million tons of CO2 production due to the rehabilitation of mangrove forests in the country.

The report states that Vietnam is one of the 20 most vulnerable countries to climate change. Hence, the UN worked with the Vietnamese government to minimize the possible negative impacts climate change may have on the local population in 2022. They attempted to aid the most vulnerable areas in Vietnam— Thua Thien Hue, Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh provinces — by implementing commune health stations (CHS); construction of these CHS will begin in 2023 and will include “provisions and equipment so that services can continue in the event of disasters,” rooftop solar panels, and IT equipment that will make the “Doctor for Everyone” software more accessible to people in these provinces.

Progress in Economic Transformation

In 2022, The International Labor Organization (ILO) contributed to setting better standards and fundamental principles and rights at work in Vietnam. Under their guidance, various laws, such as the Social Insurance Law, the Cooperative Law, and the Employment Law, were revised. Likewise, the UN and the ILO supported several key sectors in Vietnam’s industrial sector, such as coffee production, by increasing coffee farmers’ access to social protection and occupational health services.

In the food sector, UNIDO  provided technical support in the formulation of a  Food Innovation Network that would help the country uphold its commitments made during the UN Food System Summit 2021. Likewise, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Ho Chi Minh City (VCCI-HCMC) partnered to examine the effect that COVID-19 had on the employment of migrant workers. They drafted a detailed plan that would “strengthen the management of international recruitment towards better protection of Vietnamese migrant workers'' through providing “multi-purpose cash assistance, referral services, psychological support, health examination and health care support, and the building of various skills for returned migrant workers towards safer labour migration and reintegration upon return.”

Progress towards building sustainable, inclusive and responsible business models and practices was also accomplished in 2022. The report states that the UN introduced various business models that increased productivity while ensuring the financial stability of the poor, ethnic minorities, and women. Aside from this, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also held eight training events on ethical and responsible recruitment practices with the hopes of fostering fair and equitable employment opportunities.

Vietnam showed great strides in terms of inclusive business models in 2022. The report states that 15 Vietnamese companies were given proper recognition in the 2022 The Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Awards. Likewise, the government also released 25 e-learning lectures on the issues of “gender equality policies and practices in the workplace, marketplace and community.” A total of 1,325 users, including 825 women, were trained through these lectures.

In the garment industry, the UN and the ILO improved labor law and standards compliance in 467 garment, footwear and electronics factories, making them adhere to national labor law and international labor standards. The report states that their actions have led to improved working conditions for 816,961 workers.

Regarding strengthening heritage preservation, the report states that several development partners have proposed a new urban planning process that aims to re-envision Hanoi; a major resolution was adopted by the government that aims to “develop the cultural industries in correspondence with UNESCO’s designation of a Creative City of Design” by 2025. In November 2022, a three-week event was held to push this idea forward. This event attracted around 1 million participants and contributed to the new image that Hanoi is trying to embody.

In 2022, Vietnam made positive steps towards sustainable tourism. The report states that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) held several partnerships and discussions with the private tourism sector in Quang Nam and Ninh Binh provinces. They managed to reach an agreement: the UNESCO Sustainable Tourism Pledge. This agreement entails moving away from the old tourism business models towards “greener, smaller scale and more sustainable heritage-based tourism packages.” By late 2022, the UNESCO Pledge had attracted 40 members each from both provinces.

In 2022, IOM’s e-learning platform continued to provide 22 free-to-access and self-paced learning courses in various skills such as digital literacy and data analysis (24,585 people completed the course), soft skills (2,213 people completed the course) and job application skills (520 persons completed the course). The report also states that this online platform will be further developed in order to train more migrant workers.

Progress in Governance and Access to Justice

In its bid to enable inclusive governance in Vietnam, the UN focused on advancing the inclusion of persons with disabilities and the youth sector. The report states that the UN’s review of Vietnam’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) would affect the country’s ongoing legal revisions related to these two groups. Likewise, the state’s collaboration with the UNDP and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) led to nine plans of action and 43 resolutions to implement the revised Youth Law and the National Strategy on Youth. Vietnam also signed the Marrakesh Treaty to aid the blind and the visually impaired in publishing their works and amended the National Intellectual Property Law “to improve access to published works for persons with print disabilities.”

Throughout 2022, the UN also held various trainings that focused on “strengthening the rule of law, expanding access to justice and combatting discrimination with a focus on vulnerable groups.” Vietnam, with the support of the UNDP, also signed a coordination Programme on Legal Aid Providers on Duty at Courts to provide assistance for legal aid beneficiaries. Likewise, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), with the help of the ILO, detailed a plan to study and ratify Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize; this is expected to be submitted for review sometime in 2023.

In the realm of gender equality and women's empowerment, significant advancements were achieved through the collaboration of the UN and other development partners. Their advocacy led to amendments being made to key legislations, including the Gender Equality Law (GEL), the first National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (NAP WPS), the Gender Affirmation Law (GAL), and the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control. These amendments aimed to “accelerate the achievement of gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s participation in decision making, and to combat gender-based discrimination.”

The report also notes several pilot initiatives for the benefit of the country’s gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Vietnamese government, together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of Ireland, launched a A Pilot Programme on Resilient Livelihoods for Rural Women in the Northern Mountainous Region. This program was undertaken to “increase access to sustainable and resilient agricultural livelihoods in the Tuyen Quang province, especially for ethnic minority women.” The UNDP also supported the establishment of three women’s leadership networks in Nghe An, Thai Binh and Kon Tum provinces and trained 33 women from Ho Chi Minh City in the “Young Women Ready” program.

Vietnam, with support from the UN, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNODC, ILO, UNAIDS and UN Women, adopted several legal documents to “eliminate gender-based violence and all forms of abuse, exploitation and discrimination against vulnerable groups.” Likewise, a Standard Operating Procedure was implemented to provide coordinated services for victims of violence and human trafficking. Aside from these, several other UN-led projects are mentioned in the report.

To combat transnational organized crime, the Vietnamese undertook legislative actions in 2022. With support from the UN, the country adopted the revised Law on Inspections and the  Law on Anti-Money Laundering, aligning with the  UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols. Likewise, the Viet Nam National Border Guards developed a training curriculum to boost the capabilities of its officers. UN agencies also supported the government’s awareness campaigns to inform and protect Vietnamese citizens on the risks and dangers of human trafficking and people smuggling.


The UN’s 2022 Country Report on Vietnam provides an abundance of information that enumerates and expounds on the many positive developments ongoing in the country. Vietnam’s economic rebound after the pandemic and the many initiatives it has undertaken in the prior year should be commended. However, the report fails to address the ongoing human rights situation and the slow decay of civic space, both online and offline, in a comprehensive or critical manner; these issues are only mentioned in a brief segment towards the end of the report.

Related to this, several human rights NGOs in Vietnam are held back in their participation in many of these projects due to the state’s negative view on anything remotely related to human rights.

It should also be noted that many of the programs mentioned in the report have just been recently implemented or are in the early stages of planning. As such, it remains to be seen whether or not they will actually come to fruition. Much of the funding for these initiatives and their corresponding UN agencies also come from external sources; the report states that about half of these UN agencies have received no core funding for their operations in the country. That said, the Cooperative Framework between the UN, its development partners, and the Vietnamese government runs from 2022-2026; there is still time for these projects to mature and demonstrate tangible results.

The many amendments to legislation and the push to bring them in line with international standards is a step in the right direction. However, proper implementation by the Vietnamese government and local authorities should also be observed. The effectiveness of a law lies not merely in its existence but in its enforcement, operationalization, and application.

In the report’s foreword, UN Resident Coordinator in Vietnam Pauline Tamesis expresses her hope for the future of the country. She says, “Viet Nam is at a crossroads. The stakes are high. Viet Nam can use this opportunity to become an example for other countries on the graduation pathway and continue to show the world its unwavering commitment to development.”

Her sentiments are echoed in the efforts of the UN and its partners; in 2022, they have laid the groundwork for drastic and transformative change in the country. However, the extent to which Vietnam embraces this challenge and translates it into action remains to be seen.

The UN’s 2022 Country Report on Vietnam can be accessed here.


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