Tag: Development policies

Conservation challenges from development projects

Minimising the adverse impacts of development projects on the environment and natural resources is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed urgently, experts said at a workshop in Hanoi on November 14.

Prioritising development projects, especially the construction of industrial parks and hydropower plants, without paying attention to biodiversity conservation and environmental protection has negative consequences for the environment and society.

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The Real Barrier to Environmental Protection: Lessons from China

The Financial Times recently published an article entitled China: The road to reform. The first sentence reads: “For those who have to endure the toxic smog of northern China, it often comes as a surprise to learn that Chinese environmental laws and emissions regulations are some of the most stringent in the world.”

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Responsibility vs. Accountability

If you want to understand why Vietnam’s environmental problems are so intractable, read the article in the August 23, 2013 edition of Viet Nam News entitled Illegal wharves threaten environment.

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Conservation hell Vietnam pulls plug on park’s UNESCO recognition

In what was apparently a face-saving move, Vietnam opted to withdraw its nomination of a major national park for UNESCO heritage status two days ahead of an annual session that opened June 16 in Cambodia.

But even if Vietnam had gone ahead with nominating the Cat Tien National Park, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization would have probably rejected it following a recommendation to the effect by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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Mekong Resources Forum II Video Report

A video report produced by the Communication Department of PanNature on the second Mekong Resources Forum organized on 10th May 2013 in Tam Dao town, Vinh Phuc, Vietnam. Mekong Resources Forum is an initiative that aims to facilitate meaningful dialogues among regional organizations in the Lower Mekong Region. This non-state platform includes a wide variety of dialogues, exchanges, and cooperation activities built upon mutual interests and power of knowledge for bettering natural resource governance in the region.

Yesterday mining tells on Vietnam today

The report which has been released by the environment organization PanNature showed how Vietnam has to pay the penalty for the natural mineral exploitation, hailed as a key industry which creates more jobs, enriches the local budgets and helps eliminate hunger and reduce poverty.

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Consultation Workshop: Participatory Governance Assessment for REDD+ in Vietnam

The Participatory Governance Assessment for REDD+ in Viet Nam is about to complete Stage 1. The objectives of Stage 1 are: conducting an Institutional and Context Analysis for improved understanding of the context and identifying relevant stakeholders, and reaching agreement on prioritized governance issues that the PGA will be focusing on. To conduct stage 1 of the PGA, UNDP engaged a research team lead by Center for Sustainable Development in Mountainous Areas – CSDM in consortium with Centre of Research and Development in Upland Area – CERDA and Center for People and Nature Reconciliation – PanNature. All three organizations are national NGO. After three months of research, data collection, and interviews with stakeholders, on March 6th 2013, the research team held a consultation workshop in Da Lat with relevant stakeholders from the province and REDD+ pilot districts.

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Groups discussion. Photo: Tina Hagerberg/UN-REDD Vietnam Program.

Source: UN-REDD Vietnam Program

 

Improving the economic efficiency of the mining industry

On March 20, 2013, in Binh Dinh, the People’s Committee of Binh Dinh, People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) and Consultancy on Development Institute (CODE) have jointly organized the workshop on “Revenue management measures and improvement of the economic efficiency of the mining industry.” This is an opportunity for managers and experts to share experiences and methods for management of revenues from mineral resources in the world, discuss the cooperation to develop a revenue management model for mining activities in Binh Dinh, and propose policies for better governance of mineral resources at the national level.

titanium-miningTitanium mining in Binh Dinh.

It is known that Binh Dinh has abundant mineral resources. To date, the province has identified 24 kinds of mineral with 154 mines. The minerals with potential, both in terms of volume and quality, are titanium, building stone and hot mineral water. Each year, the revenues from resource and environmental charges of Binh Dinh are up to hundreds of billions of VND. However, a recent study of the Consultancy on Development Institute (CODE) has pointed out a number of shortcomings, in economic efficiency and revenue management, in mining activities in Binh Dinh that need to be addressed.

Source: MONRE

Environment risks overlooked when banks fund industrial production projects

Making profit is the most important task for every commercial bank, because of which the environmental risks are sometimes overlooked when banks approve the lending.

In general, credit officers do not pay much attention to the possible environmental risks when analyzing investment projects submitted by businesses for loans, simply because the requirement has not been legalized with the regulations stipulating banks’ relevant responsibilities.

The State Bank of Vietnam, the watchdog agency of commercial banks, also has not released any legal document, stipulating that banks need to consider environmental risks when they provide credit to fund enterprises’ projects.

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A mining site in operation. Photo: PanNature.

In fact, the duty of protecting the environment of all the subjects in the society has been stipulated in the 2005 Environment Protection Law already. However, the law only clarifies the responsibilities of production, service enterprises, while there have been no detailed regulations about the banks’ responsibilities.

An unreleased report by Nguyen Hong Anh from PanNature has pointed out that most credit officers would simply check if the enterprises-borrowers have the reports on the projects’ possible environment impacts, while some of them would check the enterprises’ waste water treatment technology and the re-settlement plans.

However, the officers would examine the matters based on their knowledge; while there has been no guidance on how to examine the issues.

Anh’s survey was conducted at 19 biggest commercial banks in Vietnam.

The problem is that the reports on possible environmental impacts are made by borrowers under the formalization, while in many cases, they do not contain true information or cannot suggest reliable solutions.

However, credit officers do not care about verifying the reports. They just need to be sure that such reports exist and that they strictly follow the stipulated procedures when considering the investment projects.

Meanwhile, banks, which have the right to fund or not fund the investment projects, can help minimize the environmental risks by asking the borrowers to work seriously on environmental protection solutions. In principle, the thorough examination over production projects would force enterprises to strive for clean and safe production.

Some international finance institutions in Vietnam including the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) all have the environmental and social standards that the partners or the donation beneficiaries have to follow.

However, the first research works on the role and responsibilities of Vietnamese commercial banks in the environment protection.

A survey by IFC conducted in 2012 showed that only three Vietnamese commercial banks have the environmental and social risk management systems, two of which (Techcombank, Vietinbank), use IFC sets of standards, while the other (Sacombank) has built up a policy of its own.

The State Bank of Vietnam has said it is compiling a legal document stipulating the responsibilities of commercial banks to ensure the environmental and social safety in credit activities.

Anh believes that it is necessary for the banking sector to join forces with involved parties to build up an environment risk classification and assessment system, which banks can refer to when making decisions on providing credit.

The state should think of a mechanism which allows non-state units to join the building of independent classification systems.

Commercial banks should be required to make public–the information about the credit provided to the production projects which may influence the environment and social security, so that people and independent supervisors can keep watching and reporting about the banks’ fulfillment of their duties.

Source: MONRE

Vietnam may evict bears from ‘protected’ park land

Bears, some of them blinded or maimed, play behind tall green fences like children at school recess. Rescued from Asia’s bear bile trade, they were brought to live in this lush national park, but now they may need saving once more. The future of the bears’ sanctuary has been in doubt since July, when a vice defense minister ordered the nonprofit group operating the $2 million center not to expand further and to find another location. U.S. politicians and officials in other countries are among those urging the military to back off.

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