Over the past years, Việt Nam's international integration has made achievements in all aspects of politics, economy, society, culture, education, diplomacy and security - defense... In addition to the process of extensive international economic integration, international integration in natural resources and environment is also interested and promoted. International integration in general and international integration in natural resources and environment have contributed to enhancing the role, position and prestige of Việt Nam in the international community and brought benefits in many aspects for the country.
Today, international integration and cooperation in natural resources and environment continues to evolve according to the trend of extensive content, extent and broader scope and form. The trend of international integration and cooperation has been bringing many benefits, opportunities and potentials to countries, but also creates significant challenges for developing countries like Việt Nam. Some of the main trends in international integration and cooperation in natural resources and environment can be generalized as: Increased scope, scale, extent; increased obligations, extent of legal binding; diversified and rich in content and fields, continuing to form many international frameworks or "playgrounds" with many new "rules of the game" at various geographical, regional and global scales; requirements, demands of increased responsibility when participating, accompanied by increased investment and financial contribution; more connection with the economy, influencing and contributing a lot in the process of international economic integration and the economic development of the country; increasingly strict mechanism to evaluate and monitor the implementation of obligations, along with sanctions for non-compliance and implementation of committed obligations.
To meet the trend of international integration and current trends of international integration in natural resources and environment, Chapter XII of the Law on Environmental Protection (LEP) 2020 has been developed, including provisions to create a legal framework for activities related to international integration and cooperation, specifically as follows:
1. Establishing principles for activities related to international integration and cooperation in natural resources and environment
Following the trend of integration and development, international integration and cooperation in natural resources and environment has taken place in an extensive direction, with a variety of extent, contents and forms, becoming more and more diverse, complex, sometimes sensitive and affecting the economy, politics and national security. Therefore, the LEP 2020 sets out several specific principles to regulate related activities, to clearly define the responsibilities of management agencies, organizations and individuals in participating in activities such as negotiating, signing, joining and implementing international treaties and agreements, international cooperation activities related to this field. These activities are carried out on the basis of giving priority to international treaties and agreements beneficial to national, regional and global environmental protection, in accordance with national interests and capacities.
With the trend of increasing extent of legal binding in international integration in environment, the fact has led to certain dangers and risks related to international disputes in this field. International disputes may arise in the compliance and implementation of environmental commitments and obligations in the new generation of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) (which are legally binding and impose sanctions on them in case of failure to properly perform or not strictly perform the commitments). Therefore, the LEP 2020 adds provisions on dispute settlement, sets out the principles of dispute settlement using international practices, but still must ensure and be consistent with domestic laws, to avoid risks, disadvantages for Việt Nam when participating in environmental dispute settlement.
International integration in environmental protection contributes to enhancing the role, position and prestige of Việt Nam in the international community
2. Clearly stipulating the responsibilities of the State, organizations and individuals in international integration and cooperation in environmental protection
For the State, the main role and responsibility is to orient and encourage international integration and cooperation activities in accordance with the guidelines, policies and strategies of the Party and State as for the fields of management and protection of environmental components, biodiversity conservation, green growth, sustainable development and response to climate change; be responsible for ensuring resources and fulfilling all obligations committed in international treaties and agreements related to the environment; establish mechanisms, create an environment and favorable conditions for international investment, cooperation and support activities for national environmental protection activities and also respond to and solve environmental incidents and other environmental problems at regional, global and transboundary scales.
For organizations and individuals, the LEP 2020 clearly stipulates the responsibilities of organizations and individuals for environmental protection in the integration process, aiming to improve the prestige of enterprises to expand international trade, suitable with the policy of international integration to contribute and support to international economic integration, also contribute to improving the prestige of Việt Nam in the world in efforts to protect the environment.
With established principles and clearly stipulated responsibilities of related objects, the LEP 2020 on the one hand has created a legal framework for activities related to international integration and cooperation in natural resources and environment, on the other hand, has created favorable conditions to promote these activities in the new period, meeting the current trends as well as the needs and requirements of extensive international integration in all fields today. Basically, with framework provisions that are oriented and principled, the LEP 2020 does not limit the scope and fields of participation in international integration and cooperation activities as long as those activities comply with the legal provisions. Accordingly, international integration and cooperation activities in a number of important and potential contents and activities related to the environment will have conditions and opportunities to be promoted, typically: Implementation of international treaties and agreements related to the environment. Việt Nam has participated in negotiations, signed and became a party to many international treaties and agreements related to the environment (also known as Multilateral Environmental Agreements - MEAs).
Up to now, Việt Nam has been an official member of about 28 international treaties and a number of international frameworks related to the environment, typically: The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat (RAMSAR); The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); The Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (MONTREAL); The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD); The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); The Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (VIENA); The Protocol on Biosafety (CARTAGENA); The Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (BASEL); The Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (ROTTERDAM); The Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (STOCKHOLM); The Convention on Mercury (MINAMATA); The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity (NAGOYA); The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL);… and implementation of obligations in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Report on responding to climate change.
Solve transboundary environmental problems such as water and air pollution, ocean plastic waste pollution, regional environmental incident response (on land and at sea).
Implement waste treatment, environmental pollution minimization through economic instruments and models and policy solutions such as green economy, circular economy, provisions on extended producer responsibility (EPR), best available techniques (BAT).
Develop a system of environmental regulations, environmental monitoring and information systems, environmental databases and audits.
Carry out environmental impact assessment, strategic environmental assessment, environmental planning and zoning.
Develop economic instruments such as environmental industry, circular economy, environmentally friendly products and services, green procurement, use and development of natural capital.
Promote human resource development, capacity building for environmental protection activities, communication and awareness raising...
As for the international cooperation methods, the LEP 2020 does not specify methods and forms to maximize the diversification and flexibility in cooperation methods and forms between the parties. International cooperation in environment can be through bilateral and multilateral cooperation methods with knowledge and experience exchange in policy formulation, scientific research and technology transfer, and capacity building training, communication and awareness raising, development and implementation of projects, investment in joint ventures...
3. Orientation for some solutions
To promote the effectiveness of international integration and cooperation in environment in the coming time, the following directions and solutions should be implemented:
First, provide training to improve the quality of human resources participating in international integration activities in environment in the period of 2020 - 2025.
Second, improve the system of policies and laws on environmental protection in line with the trend and process of international integration in environment.
Third, strengthen the coordination mechanism in international integration activities in environment.
Fourth, increase financial resources for activities aimed at improving capacity to fulfill international commitments and obligations on the environment; mobilize the participation of enterprises in environmental protection in the integration process.
Fifth, promote and expand new bilateral and multilateral international cooperation relations to take advantage of and receive advanced knowledge, experience, technology and management models to deal with transboundary environmental problems.
Sixth, promote Việt Nam's initiative, pioneering, leading and mastering role in international integration and cooperation activities at the regional and global scale.
Hoang Xuan Huy - Deputy Director General
Department of International Cooperation, MONRE
(Source: Vietnam Environment Administration Magazine, English Edition IV-2021)