Second national round table
Hanoi, 22 May 2002
Hosted by the Forest Protection Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)
Following the first national round table in September 2001, a draft National Report on Protected Areas and Development (PAD) was prepared. Its main aim is to provide guidance to policymakers, protected area managers, environmental and natural resource managers and economic development planners in the formulation of strategies over the next 10 years to enhance the role of protected areas in development.
The draft National Report is based on the findings and suggestions of the first meeting, extensive consultations with relevant experts and representatives, background papers prepared for the review, and a wide range of technical reports, policy documents and other materials. The draft National Report also builds on the results of the Vietnam Field Study which demonstrates important links between protected areas and development for the selected key study site.
Purpose of the meeting
The main purpose of the Second Round Table held on 22 May 2002 was to discuss the draft National Report and identify ways in which it could be improved before finalisation. The Round Table also provided an opportunity to review and comment on the draft Field Study Report. Copies of the draft National Report and draft Field Study Report were made available to participants in advance of the meeting.
Following presentation and plenary discussion on the field
study and draft National Report, which was presented by Dr. Tran Quoc
Bao of the Forest Protection Department, MARD, comments were provided
by representatives of:
Participants then formed smaller working groups to discuss the draft national report in more detail. Each group then made recommendations for changes and additions to the draft in a final plenary session.
The Chairman of the round table, Dr Nguyen Ba Thu, Director of the Department of Forest Protection, MARD closed the meeting by summarising a number of key issues which must be reflected in the National Report. Dr Thu also set out the next steps for the review. His points were as follows:
First, it is quite clear that already protected areas are becoming a major development strategy in Vietnam, as well as conservation assets. A shift is taking place from viewing these areas as isolated pockets for conservation of species, to one which sees them as centres of development - centres which make products and provide services essential to a growing economy.
Second, these values need to be understood and expressed in development terms. They need to be promoted and marketed, because this is the only way they will ever be effectively integrated in Vietnam's national accounts and socio-economic development plans.
Third, while demand for protected area services and products must be increased, Vietnam needs to ensure that the uses of them are sustainable and appropriate. In other words, the natural capital held in protected areas must not be degraded in any way - it must be conserved, maintained and enhanced - because that will bring the greatest development returns over the long term.
For that Vietnam's protected areas need higher levels of investment. So the fourth point - which is the guiding principle for this new approach to protected areas - is let the user pay. Whether they are government sector users such as water supply or irrigation agencies, private sector developers associated with hydro-electric schemes or tourism enterprise, or even local communities - if they use protected area services or products, they should pay for the privilege.
Fifth, with sustainable use must come equity. The government is concerned about what happens to local communities in situations of competing uses of protected areas. It does not want a situation to arise in which those least able to compete become the losers. Enhanced systems of support, subsidies and compensation to local communities living around protected areas are needed. The increased flows of revenue going to manage and safeguard protected areas must also safeguard and enhance the wellbeing of local communities. They should benefit from the effort they put into conservation management.
Sixth, the meeting discussion concluded that it is especially difficult to apply the user pays principle in upstream - downstream relationships between users and those managing natural assets. In seems that the further away from a protected area the user is, the more difficult it will be to get them to pay up for the benefits they receive. In situations, for example, where rural communities conserve watersheds so that urban centres downstream are supplied with clean and reliable water. But this is changing. It requires both regulation and economic incentives to work.
Finally, the existing protected areas system needs to be reinforced. It requires a comprehensive national policy and legal framework that clearly defines responsibilities, categories and uses, and the linkages with development sectors. Equally important, the national system needs to be adjusted to ensure it covers representative and viable samples of all the country's natural systems and habitats so that the full range of development benefits which each provides in their natural state are maintained. This will involve all sectors embracing regimes of protection as an essential part of their own development strategies.
The national round table ended with an important discussion and commitment by MARD/FPD, MOFI, MOSTE and MPI to finalise and adopt the review document formally as a National Report and to establish an inter-ministerial task force to take its findings and recommendations further.
The following steps were identified in finalising the report for formal submission to the Government.