WWF launches three projects to promote sustainable development in VietnamHanoi – Three projects have been launched by WWF this month aimed at improving the sustainability of shrimp aquaculture, growing responsible tourism and eco-tourism and promoting low carbon development. The projects are funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and each involve policy makers, the private sector and civil society in every process including planning, production and trading. The three projects are valued at 1.5 million USD and planned to last from 2012 to 2014.
Vietnam lies in the Greater Mekong region with Cambodia, Lao PDR and Thailand. The region’s government’s and their strategic partners face immense challenges as they try to balance economic development and poverty alleviation with environmental protection.
WWF has committed to work with the relevant partners in Vietnam and prove there is a way to improve economies whilst safeguarding natural wealth. Each of the projects will support the development of frameworks for sustainable use and management of natural resources. This includes the implementation of pilot models that improve livelihoods and promote more efficient use of natural resources. Importantly, the projects will also ensure economic gains and that benefits and costs of natural resource use are shared among all stakeholders.
A large proportion of Vietnam’s population is reliant on agriculture and natural resources. In many cases this dependence has put stress on protected areas in Vietnam. This is why these projects focus on enhancing the knowledge and capacity of those who are often the antagonists. Project partners not only include local authority members, policy makers and governments but also include a number of civil society and private sector organizations as well. Strong partnerships will help both goals of conservation and poverty alleviation to be realised in the long term.
“Aquaculture, energy and tourism are three of the fastest growing sectors in Vietnam, all with high risk of negative environmental and social impacts. But each of these sectors also has the potential to contribute to a sustainable green economy, if they are developed in the right way, and this is what WWF aims to demonstrate and advocate for through this programme” said Mr. Jacob Fjalland, the manager of the Greater Mekong programme, WWF-Denmark.
Low carbon and sustainable energy development
Vietnam’s plans for the future of the energy sector largely focus on fossil fuels as a source for meeting the country's growing energy demands, however, some attention has been paid to renewable energy development. The low carbon development (LCD) project hopes to increase the attention paid in these plans to sustainable renewable energy in Vietnam by supporting the development of energy policies at national and provincial levels. It includes the piloting and replication of low carbon and sustainable energy initiatives in the productive activities of households, and small and medium sized enterprises in strategic sectors in Thua Thien Hue province. The project will be working in close partnership with those provincial decision makers, planners and private enterprises in Thua Thien Hue in the hope that these people will become the catalysts in the implementation of economically viable, low carbon and sustainable energy solutions. Nationally, the project will work to build the capacity of civil society organisations.
Responsible tourism and Eco-tourism
The responsible tourism and eco-tourism project aims at providing a clear example of how tourism activities around the protected areas can contribute to the sustainable incomes for local people; thus reducing the need to exploit natural resources around and in the protected area. The project will work with partners including travel agencies, national parks and local community to develop the community based tourism model in and around Cat Tien and Bidoup Nui Ba National Parks. By involving the local communities directly, the project has created a sustainable finance scheme where the benefits of using resources return to the locals. The success of the piloting model will be integrated into the national guideline, which is in process and will be applied for all protected areas in Vietnam. At the same time, the guideline will also pave the way for ecotourism investment in protected areas.
Local shrimp farmers will be the change for this project, with WWF providing training on management practices. The project aims to ensure that production is in line with the shrimp Aquaculture Stewardship Certification (ASC) standards, which are a set of standards for responsible production, trade and investment. After WWF’s initial engagement, government officials from district Aquaculture Supporting Association will formally support farmers in responsible production.
The bigger picture
Last December in Myanmar, a subregional 10-year Strategic Framework guiding economic cooperation in the 4th Greater Mekong Subregion, including Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, South Western China and Vietnam, Summit Leaders was endorsed. The Framework shows a stronger focus on the linkages across different sectors, notably between energy, agriculture and food security, and the environment, and recognized climate change not only as an environmental concern but as a broader development issue. With expected outputs, the three projects will clearly contribute to the implementation of this framework.