People’s lives have improved, and the pressure on biodiversity resources due to poverty has reduced; however, unsustainable consumption patterns and conservation planning problems have emerged as new challenges to biodiversity. In addition, there are biodiversity conservation issues that need to be resolved, and mechanisms that need to be developed, to share the benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services in a fair and equitable way that promotes community participation and allows community-based management, conservation, and development of biodiversity.
The Government of Vietnam has initiated and is steering towards a green and sustainable economy for the country; but while rapid growth has brought economic and social benefits, it has also put a lot of pressure on biodiversity. Vietnam’s population increased from less than 73 million in 1995, to over 90 million in 2014, making Vietnam one of the most populous countries in Asia and creating a large demand for resource consumption and land use.
Key policies and governance approach
The key policy documents are the Law on Biodiversity (2018) and the Vietnam National Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, Vision to 2030 (2011). Arguably, Vietnam has one of the most well-developed policy and legal frameworks for biodiversity conservation in Southeast Asia, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to several international conventions on biodiversity conservation.
Vietnam’s system of national policies and laws on nature conservation and biodiversity is being increasingly enacted, with important laws being implemented such as the Law on Biodiversity, Law on Forest Protection and Development, Law on Fisheries, and Law on Tourism.
In 2013, the Prime Minister issued the Vietnam National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (Vietnam NBSAP) to 2020, vision 2030, with a mandate to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MONRE) for the implementation of the national strategy with a focus on biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of its derived contributions to people.
The Vision to 2030 was stated as follows “By 2030, 25% of degraded ecosystems of national and international significance will be restored. Biodiversity shall be conserved and used sustainably, bringing major benefits to the citizenry and contributing significantly to the country’s socio-economic development.” The NBSAP included strategic objectives to: (i) improve the condition of natural ecosystems, including Protected Areas; (ii) improve endangered species populations; and (iii) promote the inventory and conservation of genetic resources.
MONRE has formally planned to update the current NBSAP for the period 2021-2030, a vision to 2040 in response to the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
Successes and Remaining Challenges
Many achievements have been made in the conservation of biodiversity in Vietnam, including an increase in the area of protected ecosystems. By 2018, the total terrestrial area protected was 7.6% of the total land area. Other achievements include the discovery of new species of scientific significance, and the conservation, restoration, and development of genetic resources useful for selection and breeding. A detailed assessment of Vietnam’s progress toward each national target in the NBSAP can be found in the Sixth National Report to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
At the same time, many challenges remain that require vision and strategic steps in line with the international and national context of the new era. Vietnam is transitioning to a middle-income country, and people's lives are improving; however, unsustainable consumption patterns (including the illegal wildlife trade) and the need for additional capacity in conservation planning have emerged as new challenges for biodiversity.
Initiatives and Development Plans
Vietnam participates in many regional biodiversity initiatives such as ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN), Global Tiger Initiative, and Research Group on Saola. In addition, two new USAID projects will help to conserve over 950,000 hectares of forested area across 11 provinces and three national parks in Vietnam.
The Sustainable Forest Management project is expected to strengthen Vietnamese law enforcement’s ability to combat forest crimes such as illegal logging; improve the livelihoods of 60,000 people in forest-dwelling communities; and strengthen the management of more than 250,000 hectares of forest.
The Biodiversity Conservation project, implemented by WWF, is expected to improve the ability of community patrol teams to detect and deter wildlife trafficking; improve economic opportunities for forest-dependent communities; and strengthen the management of 700,000 hectares of forest. WWF’s Carbon and Biodiversity project in the Greater Annamites will rehabilitate, restore, and protect the forest, including 4 protected areas, with two connecting corridors that will allow species to move between the areas. These protected areas provide a unique habitat for some of Asia’s most charismatic and rare species, including many only recently discovered by scientists, such as the saola and douc.
There is a need for the enabling interventions, which are identified in the National Biodiversity Strategy:
- changing behaviour and awareness of state management organization and communities towards biodiversity conservation and sustainable use;
- improving the legislative and institutional systems and strengthening the capacity of law enforcement;
- strengthening the integration of biodiversity conservation in policy development;
- promoting scientific research and application of modern technology;
- increasing financial resources for biodiversity conservation; and
- promoting integration and international cooperation.
 Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. VIETNAM NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY STRATEGY to 2020, vision to 2030. Available: https://www.cbd.int/doc/world/vn/vn-nbsap-v3-en.pdf
 Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (2019). THE SIXTH NATIONAL REPORT TO THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY. Available: https://www.cbd.int/doc/nr/nr-06/vn-nr-06-en.pdf
 Viet Nam, The Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) Finance for Nature (2019). BIODIVERSITY FINANCE PLAN. Available: https://www.biofin.org/sites/default/files/content/knowledge_products/BFP%20Viet%20Nam.pdf
 [Online]. Available: https://www.wwf.or.th/en/?368655/WWF---Viet-Nam-Call-for-Consultancy-service-involving-Development-of-national-targets-for-the-Viet-Nams-NBSAP-2030-Vision-2040-in-response-to-the-CBD-post-2020-Global-Biodiversity-Framework
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