As custodian agencies of SDG Indicator 16.4.1 on illicit financial flows (IFFs), in 2020 the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), together with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), inaugurated a new Development Account project called “Statistics and data for measuring illicit financial flows in the Asia-Pacific region[1]. The project is aimed at consolidating existing and testing new methodological guidelines for the measurement of this Indicator, as well as to build statistical capacity by providing technical assistance and guidance to pilot countries for the measurement of such indicator using the defined standards and concepts developed by UNCTAD and UNODC. The Partner Agencies selected six countries of Asia as pilot testing countries. These are Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The first four countries will start the activities by focusing on crime-related illicit financial flows, whereas Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan will be focusing on IFFs from illicit tax-related and commercial practices.

Implement Decision No. 2025/QD-TTg dated December 2, 2021, of the Prime Minister approving the policy of participating in the project “Statistics and data for measuring illicit financial flows in the Asia-Pacific region by the UNODC, the ESCAP, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Funded by UNCTAD, on April 6, 2022, the General Statistics Office (GSO) in collaboration with UNODC and UNESCAP organized the “First workshop of pilot activities for measuring illicit financial flows in Viet Nam associated with wildlife trafficking” both indirectly and online. Attending the Workshop, on the GSO side, there was Ms. Nguyen Thi Huong, General Director of GSO, chairing the workshop; Mr. Nguyen Trung Tien, Deputy General Director of GSO; representatives of leaders and experts of the Departments, Institute under the GSO. On the side of UNODC, there were Mr. Inshik Sim, Expert on drug control and crime prevention, UNODC Asia – Pacific region; Ms. Nguyen Nguyet Minh, Head of UNODC in Vietnam; UNODC experts in Vienna (Austria) and Bangkok (Thailand). On the guest side, there was the attendance of ministries, branches, and domestic agencies: General Department of Forestry, Inspector of General Department of Taxation, units under the Ministry of Public Security, inspection and supervision agency – State Bank of Vietnam South, Ministry of Industry and Trade. Guests are international organizations and non-governmental organizations in Vietnam: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Bangkok ROSEAP; Wildlife Conservation Society Vietnam (WCS); Save Viet Nam Wildlife) (SVW); Fauna and Flora International Vietnam (FFI); Vietnam Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Speaking at the opening of the Workshop, Director General Nguyen Thi Huong said that this is a good forum for experts to share precious experiences on methods as well as feasibility in building information sources to achieve this goal effective soon. To achieve this effect, the Director-General suggested that delegates focus on discussing the following issues: Present the objectives of the pilot activities; Viet Nam key national stakeholders – part of the pilot; the project implementation strategy, as well as the National Coordination Mechanism; the data availability assessment form for the project implementation; Discuss the work plan of implementation activities and other relevant details. This is a good opportunity for GSO, domestic and foreign agencies, and organizations to share and learn from each other, especially from the experience of experts from the UNODC. At the same time, it is also an opportunity to work towards developing a methodology, a complete source of information to measure the illegal wildlife trade in particular, and illegal animals in general. From there, we have an honest and accurate picture of the size of this field for the economy of Vietnam and the region in the coming time, seeing its opposite impact on economic and social activities and other economic activities.

Ms. Nguyen Nguyet Minh, Head of UNODC in Vietnam, expressed her expectation for the long-term and sustainable impact of the Project implementation on statistics and illegal financial flow prevention activities in Vietnam shortly.

In the program of the workshop, the delegates heard representatives from the General Department of Forestry introduce the wildlife trade in Vietnam; Mr. David Ravaux, UNODC Regional Consultant presented the Project Implementation Plan and National Coordination Mechanism; Ms. Diana Camerini, UNODC Project Coordinator presented the Data Availability Assessment Form. The participants discussed the implementation plan and related issues and gave many positive ideas to effectively implement the Project in the coming time. It is expected that in October 2022, the estimated data will be produced and the project completion time will be in December 2022.