Assoc.Prof. Nguyễn Thế Chinh, Dr. Nguyễn Sỹ Linh
Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources and Environment
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
The National Green Growth Strategy was issued by the Government on 25/9/2012 by the decision 1393/QD-TTg. It focuses on three groups of main tasks in the period of 2001-2020 with a vision for 2050: reducing greenhouse gas emission intensity and promoting clean and renewable energy; greening production, and greening consumption. To achieves these, the strategy specifies measures for promoting restructuring and completing economic institution towards more efficient use of natural resources, increases in economy competitiveness through technology innovation, contributing to climate change responses, poverty reduction and ensuring sustainable economic growth.
SOME RESULTS OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT SECTOR'S ACTION PLAN FOR GREEN GROWTH
Two years after the National Green Growth Strategy, on 20/3/2014, the Government issued Decision 403/QD-TTg approving the National Action Plan on Green Growth for the period 2014-2020. The action plan has 12 task groups and 66 activities with 4 thematic topics: developing national institutions and local plans for green growth (8 activities); reducing greenhouse gas intensity and promoting clean and renewable energy (20 activities); greening production (25 activities); and greening lifestyles and sustainable consumption (13 activities).
To specify actions for the Natural Resources and Environment (NR&E) sector, on 23/4/2015, Minister for NR&E issued Decision 965/QD-BTNMT on its action plan for implementing the National Green Growth Strategy period 2015-2020 with orientation for 2030. The plan has 5 objectives: Preventing, controlling and mitigating pollution sources, remedying pollution; increasing capacity in responding to climate change, greenhouse mitigation; promoting and supporting rapid development of ecological product manufacturing and environmental service sector; efficiently and sustainably exploiting and using natural resources; and conserving biodiversity and developing natural capitals. These five objectives are in line with state management tasks assigned to the NR&E sector by the Government. Four groups of measures are proposed, including awareness raising, propaganda, and encouraging green growth implementation; increasing and diversifying green growth investment; legal improvement and strengthening capacity for green growth implementation; and strengthening international cooperation. To achieve these five objectives and implement the four measure groups, in the period of 2015-2020, the sector sets out seven priority tasks, including: developing a policy framework on green growth of the sector in the period of 2016-2020; developing national and provincial environmental protection master plans; developing a program for mobilizing resources and environmental protection; a program for urban pollution control by 2020; studying and issuing a regulation on green procurement of the NR&E sector; piloting permits for regional surface and groundwater exploitation; and conducting inventories and developing a database for natural capitals.
After three years of implementing the action plan, the NR&E sector have achieved several initial results: propaganda and awareness raising through green economy forums among journalists, managers, policymakers and businesses to exchange valuable experiences in integrating economic growth and environmental protection; and cooperating with the Vietnam Association of Conserving the Nature and Environment on organizing a workshop on green growth from the NR&E viewpoint. To increase effectiveness of state management on NR&E as well as monitoring NR&E state and proactively respond to climate change to contribute to the national development, MONRE has developed and issued its sector statistic indicators. These are among the actions for implementing the priority task 1: developing a policy framework on green growth for the NR&E sector in the period 2016-2020. In addition, MONRE has assigned a task for the Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA) to develop a detailed guideline for implementing national and provincial environmental protection master plans. ISPONRE implemented a ministerial research project “Studying scientific and practical bases for developing procedures and guiding for environmental protection master plans” from 1/2015 to 8/2017. The research project provides important input for the recommendations for the detailed guideline for developing provincial environmental protection master plans.
Regarding the priority task 2 on developing a program on mobilizing resources for environmental protection, the VEA has been developing this program to diversify resources for environmental protection, in particular mobilizing resources from the society and businesses (socialization of environmental protection). In addition, according to statistics by Ministry of Finance, state budget for environmental protection in the period of 2012-2016 is 131,857 billion VND, of which the budget for regular expenditure for environmental protection is 89,131 billion VND, the budget for NR&E sector to implement its tasks is 24,246 billion don and the contingent budget for prevention and restoration of natural disasters is 18,480 billion VND. Therefore, the state budget for environmental protection has reached about 2% of the total budget. In the meantime, the revision of the Law on Environmental Protection Tax will contribute to increasing the surplus for state budget, indicating that expenditures for environmental protection will be more secured.
Regarding the priority task 3, MONRE is implementing the study and pilot for issuing permits for surface and groundwater exploitation for some regions. More specifically, MONRE issued Circular 47/2017/TT-BTNMT dated 7/11/2017 on monitoring water resource exploitation and usage. To implement the priority task 4 on developing a program on urban pollution control and management by 2020, MONRE has developed and submitted to Prime Minister the draft master plan for national NR&E monitoring stations for the period of 2016-2025 with a vision for 2030. The objective of this master plan is to establish a sound, modern monitoring system which can meet requirements of the state management of NR&E and socioeconomic development.
Regarding international cooperation in the NR&E, extensive activities have been carried out with bilateral partners such as Denmark, Japan, Switzerland, Korea, the US and China as well as multilateral partners such as United Nations Development Program (UNDP), UN Environment (UNEP), Global Environment Facility (GEF), World Bank (WB).
The cooperation has been intensified in many areas such as environmental assessment, pollution control, stockpile chemical pollution, biodiversity conservation and climate change.
Regarding green procurement for the NR&E sector, ISPONRE has conducted a ministerial research project “Research for scientific and practical bases and proposing green economy indicators in the NR&E sector”. Although this is not a direct task for green procurement, the project provides a foundation for applying green economy indicators for the sector’s activities. Green procurement for the NR&E sector as well as for Việt Nam has only at the stage of reviewing international experiences and recommending some green public procurement.
To implement the task of inventories and database for natural capitals, INSPONRE has cooperated with other agencies to carry out the project of surveying and completing mechanisms and economic and financial institutions for promoting restoration and development of natural capitals for the period of 2015-2019. The main output of the project is a draft economic and financial framework for developing and restoring natural capitals to 2020, with a vision to 2030. This is an initial stage, providing a foundation for developing a database for natural capitals. In addition, some other studies on natural capitals in green economy have been conducted. For example, in 2015, Professor Dang Huy Huynh conducted a study on sound natural capital conservation and use for green economy in Việt Nam. The study recommends strengthening scientific and technological research for developing and restoring natural capitals, degraded ecosystems, species with high economic values, in particular medicinal plants, non-timber forest products and indigenous species. It also proposes that conservation of natural capitals, forests and biodiversity needs to be included in economic development plans, programs and projects and be considered as one of the indicators of assessing a green economy progress. Therefore, it can be said that the development of natural capital database has produced some results.
Despite some initial results, the implementation of the NR&E sector’s action plan for green growth has faced difficulties. As the priority task is developing policy mechanisms related to multiple sectors, it is important to reach agreements. Green growth has to deal with other production economy sector and it is not always easy to get agreements from other ministries. In addition, it is difficult to identify feasible indicators to follow the national green growth strategy. Green growth requires restructuring economy that is time and resource consuming. However, due to limited resources, the implementation of the sector’s action plan following the national green growth strategy has not received priority in resource allocation.
SOLUTIONS FOR IMPROVING IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ACTION PLAN
To continue implementing effectively the NR&E sector’s action plan for green growth, the sector needs to focus on increasing propaganda, awareness raising on the role of the sector, in particular the role of natural capital in green economy or green growth in Việt Nam; changing mindset in NR&E management (including climate change responses) to the philosophy that NR&E is input of the economy and the environment receives output of the economy. As a result, the value and contribution of natural resources needs to be fully and correctly estimated in the economy. As the environment is the output of the economy, it is necessary to calculate the environment’s carrying capacity and to invest to maintain the carrying capacity when economy continues to grow. Another measure is to continue mobilizing international resources through bilateral and multilateral cooperation as well as strengthening cooperation between agencies under MONRE and other development partners to implement priority tasks. Of these activities, priorities should be given to capacity building and experience exchanging in developing policies on green procurement, urban pollution control and national account on natural capitals. Next, it is necessary to conduct further research on circular economy, completing natural resource and environmental management institutions towards market economy in the Vietnamese context which applies economic instruments suitable for different development stages of the country, contributing to green economy. Priorities should be given to the tasks by 2020, including the task 2 of developing national and provincial environmental protection master plan, the task 3 of developing a program of mobilizing resources for environmental protection and the task of developing a program of urban pollution control and management by 2020.
NR&E sector focus on mobilizing resources for implementing a program on urban pollution control and management by 2020