Legalizing a greener future
With this paper we hope to encourage discussion among policy makers, experts and also the wider public. Importantly, the National Assembly will vote on the amended Law on Environmental Protection (LEP) at its 7th meeting in June 2014. This is an important moment for Viet Nam in restructuring the economy to move towards a model for more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable growth.
Over the past two decades, Viet Nam has introduced a strong legal framework to protect the environment and preserve natural resources for its sustainable development. During this period Viet Nam’s economy grew at annual rates of about 7 percent, the per capita income almost quintupled, poverty rates reduced dramatically, and the country attained low middle-income country status in 2010.
But there were also high-profile cases of industrial pollution and extraction of mineral resources, which have affected the lives and livelihoods of people in many parts of the country and raised concern in the wider population. Serious environmental challenges in Viet Nam must be addressed to protect people’s rights and prevent further negative impact on lives and livelihoods.
The amendment of the LEP in 2014 presents a great opportunity to make this law easier to implement and enforce, to halt environmental degradation and prevent new pollution from occurring. A strong LEP will help to enable sustainable economic growth, social stabilization, while ensuring environmental protection, benefitting the Vietnamese people and long term sustainable development of the country.
This paper gathers views by a diverse range of stakeholders, including members of National Assembly, Government leaders, business owners, experts, as well as community representatives on aspects that deserve in-depth discussion and require careful consideration for the amendment and approval of the LEP. The six issues discussed in the paper are: strategic environmental assessment and environmental impact assessment; participation of communities and civil society organizations; import of discarded materials and hazardous waste; environmental pollution disputes; trade and environment; and climate change and green growth.
We hope this paper will support deep and effective policy dialogue and can serve as a reference for members of parliament in reviewing the draft LEP before approving it.