Working toward increased legal protection of natural environment and conservation of energy

Nov 2, 2007

HA NOI – The United Nations and Viet Nam are working closely to develop a regulatory and legal framework for sustainable development. In two separate events today, national and international experts met to have their say on draft environment laws: In Ha Noi on Viet Nam’s first-ever law on biodiversity and in Ha Long City on the first draft of a proposed law on energy conservation and efficiency.
The formulation of the law on biodiversity is a major component of the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Poverty and Environment Project, which seeks to harmonize poverty reduction and environmental goals in policy and planning. This support is particularly focused on ensuring that links between biodiversity conservation and poverty are fully addressed in the new law.

“Viet Nam has some of the richest variety of plants and animals in the world, a natural heritage that is in desperate need of protection under the law,” said UNDP Deputy Country Director Christophe Bahuet. “More than half of the natural forest cover in Viet Nam has been lost since the 1950s. More than 800 species of both flora and fauna are considered endangered species. The Government’s initiative and willingness to seek a broad spectrum of opinion on this law is welcome, because a strong biodiversity law is needed to counter the real and ever-present threat to the nation’s biodiversity.”

Organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MONRE), UNDP and the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Ha Noi workshop will provide detailed comments to MONRE on how to further improve the law; the first to take a holistic approach to the issue of biodiversity in Viet Nam.
UNDP through its work with the IUCN is advocating for a pro-poor biodiversity law that empowers those living in poverty, and enables them to benefit from conservation through improved livelihoods. In Viet Nam biodiversity is being threatened by overexploitation of forests, shifting agricultural cultivation, loss of arable land, water pollution, degradation of coastal areas, and demands made on farmers by the transition to a market economy. Rapid population growth and intense agricultural development are also putting biodiversity under pressure.
With this increasing economic development, the thirst for power to fuel the growing economy only intensifies. In response, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT), in collaboration with other government agencies, have put together a draft law on energy conservation and efficiency. Researchers, academics and technical experts in energy conservation and efficiency gathered in Ha Long City to give feedback on the draft. The event was co-funded by UNDP and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The workshop entitled “Law, Policy and Institutions on Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency - Progress and the Way Forward,” jointly organized by MOIT and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), is one part of a $28 million UNDP/GEF/Viet Nam initiative for promoting energy conservation and energy efficiency in small and medium enterprises.
“Energy security is essential to the sustainable development of Vietnam. To create an enabling environment for widespread application of the EE practices, the legal framework must be strengthened,” said Vice Minister of MOST, Mr Tran Quoc Thang.

UNDP’s Christophe Bahuet agreed saying, “One of the biggest challenges facing Viet Nam is how to balance economic growth with protection and conservation of natural resources,” he said. “Environmental issues cannot be confronted in isolation, they need concerted efforts from all levels. If Viet Nam’s challenges to its natural environment are to be effectively addressed, policy and regulatory frameworks are required, and these two laws will be important contributions in that respect.”

Contact informationNguyen Viet Lan, Tel: (84-4) 822-4383 x 121 

Michael Coleman, Tel: (84-4) 822-4383 x105