5-million-euro sustainable landscape project set for Central Highlands
ĐÀ LẠT — A project to strengthen integrated sustainable landscape management through a deforestation-free jurisdiction in the Central Highlands Lâm Đồng and Đắk Nông provinces was launched on Friday.
Natural forests in Việt Nam, like most in other countries, are facing a paradox. They are recognised as an invaluable source of goods and services, sustaining the livelihoods of millions of people and supporting vital ecological services such as climate regulation and biodiversity.
These populations directly dependent on natural forests and playing a major role in forest protection are frequently also the poorest and have fewer economic opportunities than populations living in urban areas.
Việt Nam’s Central Highlands region has been facing a significant loss of its natural forests due to converting to plantation forests. From 2005 to 2020, the natural forest area in the Highlands was reduced from 2.83 million to 2.18 million hectares, while the planting area for coffee increased from 449,400 to 577,119 hectares, rubber from 86,892 to 259,200 hectares, and timber from 144,420 to 368,734 hectares.
In addition, the degradation of agricultural lands due to chemical pollution and soil erosion has become extremely serious and has led the Highlands to account for 22 per cent of Việt Nam’s natural emissions in land use. Each year, approximately 6.8 million of CO2 is released from coffee farms in the Central Highlands from fertilisers, residues, and fuel.
To transition towards a model of sustainable landscape management without deforestation, the new EU-financed project in Lâm Đồng and Đắk Nông will be developing and piloting an integrated approach to ecosystem management and protection by creating sustainable incomes from the forest that will enable farmers to stay on their own land and contribute to improved livelihoods for people living near forests.
In his remarks at the workshop, Jesus Lavina, first counselor, deputy head of the Cooperation Department of the Delegation of the European Union to Việt Nam, said: “The project’s three specific objectives – to enhance forest ecosystems, improve livelihoods, and sustain food production – are highly relevant in the Central Highlands and fully aligned with policies and strategies of both Việt Nam and the European Union. Joining our forces in tackling deforestation and forest degradation will positively impact local communities, including the most vulnerable indigenous peoples who rely heavily on forest ecosystems.”
Patrick Haverman, deputy resident representative of UNDP Việt Nam, said: “The project is designed to use a deforestation-free jurisdictional approach, a holistic framework to demonstrate sustainable development without deforestation in a particular jurisdiction as a key to achieve the expected results. This is an innovative idea that has been accepted globally.”
Haverman also emphasised that the project will make significant contributions to sustainable forestry development in the Central Highlands and implement the Vệt Nam Forestry Development Strategy for 2021-2030 and the recently approved Strategy for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development for 2021-2030.
The Government highly appreciates the project as an essential and relevant initiative to directly contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as national strategies and commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, green growth, forest protection, and the sustainable agricultural development of both Việt Nam, and the Central Highlands in particular.
The project will be implemented over four years (2022–2026) in Lâm Đồng and Đắk Nông provinces. The project’s targets by 2026 are to protect 25,000 hectares of natural forest; reduce harmful CO2 emissions by three million tonnes; enable 35 per cent of the project area’s marginalised populations in both provinces to benefit from improved livelihoods, especially women and ethnic minorities; and increase the total value of commodities in the project area by 25 per cent.
Its results will be replicated and integrated into Việt Nam’s development strategies and policies.
The project’s total budget is five million euros, funded by the EU through UNDP Việt Nam.
Four international organisations are also providing additional technical assistance to the project: the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, the European Forest Institute, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, and the United Nations Environment Programme. —
Viet Nam’s fintech reaches new heights
The country’s fintech market is forecast to reach a staggering US$18 billion mark by 2024, according to an article on asiaone.com of Singapore.
Housing close to 200 fintech organizations, now 66 percent of adults have payment accounts as listed by the Ministry of Planning and Investment. The perfect medley of 91.3 million smartphone subscribers and an internet penetration rate of 73.2 percent have made the situation more conducive for the industry’s growth.
The success of these promising fintech organizations has been linked with their close ties with the banking sector that has created invaluable synergies.
The Viet Nam Banks Association (VNBA) has always been upfront in bringing favorable changes to the country’s financial services industry, be it for lowering SMS charges for banking services or urging Visa and Mastercard to reduce several types of fees on Vietnamese banks during COVID-19.
Its most recent move got a lot of attention when it stepped forward as the official supporting partner for World Financial Innovation Series (WFIS) that’s shaping to be the country’s premier fintech event.
The National Digital Transformation Program by 2025, with an orientation towards 2030, which was approved in September 2021, sets the goal that 50 percent of banking operations by customers to be fully online.
In addition, half of the population have a digital checking account while 70 percent of customer transactions made through digital channels.
Besides, half of decisions on lending, small and consumer loans of individual customers made digitally and are automated whilst 70 percent of work and service records at credit institutions to be processed and stored digitally.
Digital banks attract significant numbers of customers
After only six months of launching MyVIB 2.0 digital banking application – which uses multi-cloud computing technology to process 60-70 per cent of the input data to help banks realise ideas, bring products and services to the market faster and respond sooner to customer requests, VIB has doubled the number of customers compared to the previous year and reach the target of 4 million customers nearly a year earlier than expected.
Not only VIB, the wave of “cloudisation” of digital banking applications to expand modes and storage capacity, and increase integrated processing and user data security capacity has been invested in and implemented by many commercial banks.
Currently, VietABank, PVcomBank, VietinBank, Techcombank, SeABank, ABBank and OCB have all integrated cloud computing technologies to launch new digital banking platforms serving the sales of retail products and services, attracting millions of users.
The business results by the end of 2022 of banks showed a sharp increase in the number of new customers attracted by banks thanks to their digital applications. For example, MB last year added 7 million customers in the wake of developing Biz MBBank and Charity app while Techcombank with E-Banking apps (using AWS cloud computing technology) attracted an additional 1.2 million users in 2022. ACB and TPBank also said they recorded an annual growth of 30 per cent in the number of customers using digital applications in the 2019-22 period.
Along with the increase in the number of customers, the investment in new technologies and digitalisation of business activities have helped many banks attain significant achievements. For VIB and ACB, the proportion of revenue from retail activities was around 90 per cent in 2022. Retail activities at other banks such as MB, Techcombank and Sacombank currently account for more than 50 per cent of their business portfolio.
Recent research by Gimigo Vietnam showed 2023 will continue to witness fierce competition between banks in developing retail digital banking applications to gain market share.
According to Gimigo, the group of large State-owned banks such as Vietcombank, BIDV, Agribank, VietinBank and MB was leading in the retail segment thanks to being trusted by users and having a widespread network by the end of 2022. However, the group of private banks such as Techcombank, Sacombank, ACB, VPBank and TPBank have significantly improved their awareness level and attracted a large number of users in recent months.
Gimigo’s survey in Ha Noi, HCM City and some other big cities showed the digital applications of Techcombank, ACB and Sacombank are currently competing strongly with large-sized State-owned banks. Other private banks such as TPBank and VPBank also have high net promoter scores (NPS). Thus, the group of banks has many opportunities to expand the customer base thanks to the existing group of loyal customers and the new customers.
According to experts, developing the networks of branches, transaction offices, POS and ATMs is no longer the banks’ top priority. Instead, they focus on digitisation of products and services. To maintain the number of customers, banks need to pay more attention to transaction costs, quality of products and services, staff attitude, customer service, and continuous improvement of online procedures.
Regarding the development trend of digital application generations this year, Gimigo said besides investment in cloud computing technologies and applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning to develop applications to support retail sales of products and services, banks will tend to pour in an integrated open banking ecosystem.
Some banks, which have so far invested in purely digital banking models such as Cake, Timo, Tnex, Octo and Ubank, have attracted users. For example, VPBank’s Cake app currently has 1 million users.
Experts forecast banks will invest more in developing completely new digital banking brands in the near future. In which, micro products and services will be integrated into personal financial management tools to attract customers to use banks’ retail products and services.
Source: Việt Nam News
Over 57,000 ransomware attacks hit Vietnam in 2022
Vietnam suffered 57,389 ransomware attacks in 2022, the third-highest in Southeast Asia following Indonesia and Thailand.
The region recorded a total of 340,904 ransomware attacks targeting businesses last year, General Manager of Kaspersky for Southeast Asia Yeo Siang Tiong told a press briefing in Ho Chi Minh City on March 14.
Ransomware is a type of malware that locks a computer and mobile device or encrypts electronic files. To obtain the “decryption” key or retrieve data, a ransom is sought by the cybercriminals behind the attack.
Digital kidnappers are targeting enterprises in Southeast Asia, Mr. Yeo said, and the trend is forecast to continue increasing this year and see more complicated attacks.
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