During its 30 years of development, the Vietnam Association for the Conservation of Nature and the Environment (VACNE) has continued to grow and gather a large part of the community that wants to take action to build a clean environment and promote sustainable development. Many of its activities have been put into practice and been well-received by both the central and local governments. During its development, the association has always created new activities, which focus on work efficiency and performance in the eyes of the community. Besides, the association has strived to grow and overcome challenges with the community in order to protect nature and the environment for the country’s sustainable development.
The association was founded on November 26, 1988 under Decision No. 299/CT dated November 23, 1988 by the Prime Minister, formerly known as the Chairman of the Minister Council, and organizes its meeting every five years. The number of association members has kept increasing to reach tens of thousands of individual members and 207 institutional members, spanning the fields of science, technology, culture, art, journalism, entrepreneurship and non-governmental activity and including groups of students, war veterans and old people.
Association strengths: Consultancy, inspection and social criticism
The association is a trusted unit for the community, often providing objective social criticism on environmental issues that are broadly covered by the media. The association has delivered high-quality feedback on many environmental action plans of the nation, local governments and various sectors. The association has also helped the Government develop relevant policies such as the Law on Environmental Protection (1993, 2004 and 2014), the Law on Biodiversity 2008, the Law on Environmental Protection Tax 2910 and other laws on the forestry, fishery and marine sectors.
Photo shows the seminar collecting feedbacks to improve the Law on Bio-diversity 2008
Though there are various ideas about the Association’s activities, a number of its opinions have been well-received and approved, such as its proposal on the Law on Environmental Protection 1993; its 1997 disagreement with Vedan as it disposed production wastes into the sea; its opinion urging the re-routing of the stretch of Ho Chi Minh Route that would have crossed the Cúc Phương National Park in 2000; its proposal to stop implementing the Tam Dao II project in 2006 and its proposal to prevent Vĩnh Tân Thermal Power Plant from disposing wastes into the sea in 2017.
Besides, the association has used different types of criticism and consultancy to advpcate for environmental protection. The association published a book on “Social critism in natural and environmental protection” in 2008. In 2010, the State ordered the association to re-publish its book, which was amended and supplemented, then the book was used by the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA) as reading material in VUSTA’s training courses. VACNE has also received a lot of feedback from its members and those critics are posted in the two sections - the Environmental Forum and Environmental Talks - on the association’s website at vacne.org.vn.
Changed methods and improved awareness
Seizing the trend and opportunity, the association has organized fairs and exhibitions displaying environmental technologies since 2006 to encourage the public applications and technologies that are environmentally friendly. Since 2008, the association has honored companies and businessmen that have performed well in environmental protection. In 2003 - 2014, the association worked with ministries and sectors to launch a national contest on raising students’ awareness of efficient water use and preservation.
The association in 2006 launched its annual “Cycling for the environment” program in which various activities have been held with different topics. Since 2013, the program has been connected to the Vietnam Heritage Tree preservation project and become “Cycling for the environment and heritage trees” program with several big events, such as cyclists travelling from the South and the North to gather in Hue in 2014; and the event “Cycling for environment and heritage trees” to celebrate VACNE’s 30th anniversary in 2018.
Students and teachers that won the 11th National contest on efficient water use and preservation in June 2014
Science seminars launched, new updates for acedemic teaching
Since 2008, the association has held some science seminars and workshops, namely “Global climate change and Vietnam’s responses” and “Bio-diversity preservation for Trường Sơn Mountain Range”. Besides those workshops, the association successfully advised local authorities to develop their bio-diversity preservation plans in locations such as Ha Noi, Cao Bang, Ha Giang and Dak Lak. Each year, the association releases at least one important publication on environmental and natural protection such as the Collection of environmental studies; Việt Nam - Environment and Life; Sustainable development community models; Environmental security; Environmental protection and sustainable development; Community with environment (as a report of TAI implementation in Viet Nam); Bio-diversity preservation for the Trường Sơn Mountain Range; Vietnam Heritage Tree; and Green economy and sustainable development in the context of climate change.
Reach out for people’s support on environmental and natural issues
The association has held a number of cross-country cycling tours for environmental protection on big anniversaries between Việt Nam and China, including a Hà Nội - Lạng Sơn - Nam Ninh (China) tour in 2009 and a Hà Nội –Vinh - Vientianne (Laos) ride in 2010.
The heritage tree certificate has been granted for many kinds of tree in the farthest mountainous provinces in the North (Hà Giang, Lào Cai and Cao Bằng), in the south-pole island of Côn Đảo, in the Central Highland Region (Đắk Lắk) and on the Trường Sa (Spratly) Islands. Those kinds include the Pơmu in Quang Nam Province’s Tây Giang District and Nghệ An Province’s, Quế Phong District; the Shan tea leaf in Yên Bái Provinec’s Suối Giàng Commune, the Và Temple in Sơn Tây Town (Hà Nội City) and the Xuân Sơn National Park in Phú Thọ Province.
The recognition of a Vietnam Heritage Tree in Tây Ninh Province
However, the association has to learn from past events to improve its performance, especially when it looks for crowdfunding, provides instruction for local people to take care of the trees, makes connections with other local activities and seeks the agreement of the Government and its agencies on implementing this meaningful programme.
Past experiences, missions and action plan for the association’s seventh term 2018 - 2023
To make good achievements and partly meet the expectations of members, the community and society require the maximum efforts from the association and its own members. In the near future, the association will work to beat its limitations, learn from past experiences and share those experiences with the community. The key leaders of the association must always remain dedicated to its activities under any circumstances. They must look for new solutions and activities that are appropriate and effective and work with local authorities, government agencies, local and foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to strengthen, develop and expand the association operation.
Facing the negative impacts of environmental issues and limitations in the country’s environmental management, the association has proposed the plan and missions for its operation in 2018 - 2023:
Promote the culture and tradition of the association, adapt to new changes, make great efforts for natural resource management, environmental protection, climate change responses, green growth and sustainable development, and meet the requirements of its members and other organizations.
Strengthen and develop the association, keep its leaders and members enthusiastic, and gather more members from the community to protect the country’s natural and environmental conditions. Keep improving the association operations, expand its influence on all cities and provinces of the country, on the business community and on other stakeholders. Raise the quality of the operation for the association’s sub-units and member organizations. Make sure all activities are complied with the association’s regulations and strategies.
Meet the highest requirements on consultancy, testing and social criticism in environmental and natural protection, climate change response, green growth and sustainable development to assist the nation in seizing the opportunities of the Industry 4.0. Regularly satisfy the community’s demand for consultancy and social criticism on different means of media and provide consultancy and social criticism services on urgent environmental, natural and climate change issues at the request of the members and government agencies. In the near future, the association will concentrate on the issues such as the completion of the legal framework, how to mobilize resources from the community, community-based solutions for bio-diversity preservation and climate change response, the development of the standardised rural area, green economy development, reduction of waste imports and the demolition of downgraded ships.
Continue diversifying its activities to raise the community’s awareness of natural and environmental protection so that activities are appropriate and consistent. Support member organizations to launch environmental media events which comply with current regulations and the association charter.
Promote scientific research and development and technology use among the association’s members, sub-units and member organizations to implement their projects and programs assigned by ministries, sectors, local authorities and international organizations. Regularly organize science workshops on various issues such as the preservation of the Trường Sơn Mountain Range and on climate change and Vietnam’s responses, while seeking new topics to discuss. Examine, summarise and modernize other advanced models on natural and environmental protection and climate change response.
Develop the association as a trusted contact of the international community and raise people’s awareness on natural and environmental issues. Continue organizing events every two years in Việt Nam on environmental impact assessment and strategic environment assessment with its partners from South Korea, Japan and China. Improve co-operation with international organisations, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA), the Asia Development Bank (ADB), the German Technical Co-operation Agency (GTZ), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Thailand Environment Institute (TEI), and the Access Initiative (TAI).
Strengthen and develop the Vietnam Heritage Tree program. Take care and extend the life of the heritage trees, combine the programme with other activities to help local people earn money for living, develop the tourism industry, preserve the history and culture, and promote the programme as a typical tourism model.
Nguyễn Ngọc Sinh, Phùng Quang Chính, Nguyễn Danh Trường
Vietnam Association for the Conservation of Nature and the Environment
(Nguồn: Bài đăng trên Tạp chí Môi trường, số Chuyên đề Tiếng Anh III năm 2018)