Ha Long – Cat Ba Alliance: Initiatives for Sustainable Natural Heritage Conservation

The first leaders’ meeting of the Ha Long – Cat Ba Alliance was recently held in Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Province, attended by leaders of Quang Ninh Province and Haiphong City, US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius, and senior officials from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

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The Ha Long Bay World Heritage Site and Cat Ba Archipelago Biosphere Reserve, recognised by UNESCO, are two of Vietnam’s most economically and ecologically important areas, renowned for their scenic beauty and biological importance. Quang Ninh and Hai Phong play important roles in managing Ha Long Bay World Natural Heritage and Cat Ba World Biosphere Reserve. The two created a changing ecosystem which requires management and cooperation between the two localities. To preserve the natural integrity of these globally significant sites, the Ha Long – Cat Ba Alliance was established to build a partnership between government, business, and community leaders that will catalyse action to preserve and protect Ha Long Bay and the Cat Ba Archipelago.

The alliance is a public-private partnership initiative funded by the US investment to establish the Alliance Leadership Committee comprised of business leaders and political representatives to promote inter-agency cooperation in the conservation of Ha Long Bay World Heritage and Cat Ba World Biosphere Reserve.

This meeting and the formation of the Alliance Leadership Committee are an important step to the alliance as the committee will be responsible for setting a vision and advise on the Alliance work plan, discuss important policy issues and provide strategic consultations for the Secretariat. In the future, the committee expected to meet twice a year in Quang Ninh and Hai Phong and may establish Working Groups to address specific topics relevant to the Alliance.

The US Government has provided the alliance funding support through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and has made two grants totalling US$970,000 to IUCN as well as to the Centre for Marine Life Conservation and Community Development (MCD), a local Vietnamese NGO, to help organise public and private partners as well as grassroots organisations to protect and restore the environment in Halong Bay. IUCN serves as Alliance Secretariat and catalyses business investment in environmental protection, while MCD focuses on local stakeholder engagement and strengthening the capacity for improved natural resource management, especially in fisheries and aquaculture.

The implementation of the alliance is divided into two components: business engagement and local engagement. The business engagement component of the alliance, implemented by IUCN, aims to build the political will for action to preserve the area’s outstanding values by establishing a high-level, business-led Alliance Leadership Committee comprised of business leaders, political representatives from Quang Ninh and Hai Phong, relevant government agencies, and the US Embassy to set a vision for and advise on the Alliance work plan. Other aims under this component include increasing public awareness of environmental conditions through media engagement, advancing a certification standard for overnight cruise companies, improving water quality in Ha Long – Cat Ba, and providing technical advice for World Heritage site reports submitted to UNESCO.

The second component of the Alliance, implemented by MCD, focuses on local stakeholder engagement in Ha Long and assists local residents involved in aquaculture to implement good environmental practices, build the evidence base for empowerment of local actors for greater participation in environmental protection, and prepare local non-governmental organisations to more deeply engage in environmental issues.

The Alliance will be implemented with partner government authorities such as the Quang Ninh Provincial People’s Committee, Ha Long Bay Management Department, Hai Phong City People’s Committee, and Cat Ba Archipelago Biosphere Reserve Management Board, alongside non-governmental partners GreenID, Asian Management Development Institute, Live and Learn, PanNature, and the Centre for Environment and Community Research.

Source: Vietnam Business Forum Magazine

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