Environmental Controls in Vietnam
Bryant, Tannetje Lien, Akers, Keith, Environmental Law
Environmental controls in Vietnam are recent phenomena. It is now evident that the Vietnamese Government recognizes the importance of its unique environment and the need to have in place environmental controls to protect it. This recognition has been caused by a combination of factors, including the introduction of the Doi Moi (the renovation policy, or shift from a centrally planned economy to a market economy), the impact of international environmental law, and the opening of Vietnam to foreign investment.
This Article provides an overview of environmental controls in Vietnam. Part II describes background environmental policy, programs, and strategies. Part III outlines the legal and administrative framework behind the various forms of environmental control. Part IV explains the techniques, procedures, and documentation associated with environmental impact evaluation and licensing of various activities that may affect the environment, and briefly outlines the regulation of specific environmental problems. Part V discusses the means of ensuring compliance with the environmental law regime. Part VI examines the preventative mechanisms recently implemented. Part VII critically evaluates the effect of these environmental controls. Part VIII examines some of the societal factors that will impinge upon the success of the implementation of this new environmental regime. This Article concludes by noting that, despite valid criticism, Vietnam's efforts are worth praise even though the positive effects of their efforts may not emerge for some time due to the societal and cultural history of the country. This Article will not, however, address in any detail international environmental law issues and their effect on Vietnam's municipal environmental laws.
II. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES, PROGRAMS, PLANS, AND STRATEGIES
The concern for environmental degradation and the government's adoption of policies that address the problem can be traced back to 1980. Prior to that time, there were no formal environmental policies or controls in operation in Vietnam. In fact, there was no governmental body directly responsible for the environment. However, from 1980 onward, a series of strategic documents and research papers on the environment were undertaken. These provided the basis for the implementation of a framework for environmental protection and conservation in Vietnam. In 1981, the Vietnamese Government set up the National Resources and Environment Research Programme, whose task was to identify the major environmental problems and the means of overcoming them.(1) It found that there was a need for environmental protection legislation and therefore recommended the establishment of the infrastructure to implement various environmental controls.(2)
In 1985, the Council of Ministers of Vietnam decided to prepare a study on environmental protection and the use of the country's natural resources. A variety of Ministries and bodies prepared both an evaluation and an inventory of existing conditions addressing these matters. Also in 1985, the National Resources and Environment Research Programme, with technical assistance from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), prepared a National Conservation Strategy. This strategy proposed:
1. The maintenance of ecological processes and life support systems in Vietnam, namely the maintenance of forests, midlands, croplands, freshwater, estuarine and coastal [and] deep sea ecosystems, 2. The preservation of genetic diversity by development of protected areas, identification of protected species, establishment of hunting regulations, control of the wildlife trade and ex situ conservation, 3. The sustained utilization of renewable resources, the maintenance of environmental quality for human life, and 4. The international implementation of conservation in Vietnam. …