A paper just released by Dr Beverley Clarke and Cong Chi Vu (Flinders University Master of Environmental Management graduate) presents a unique empirical study from Vietnam based on the perspectives of those engaged in the Environmental Impact Assessment system there. The paper evaluates the effectiveness of Vietnam’s EIA system from varied perspectives including government, NGOs, academia, and industry.

Results suggest that, like other developing countries, Vietnam’s EIA performance, in practice, faces several significant challenges and its contribution to environmental protection from major development activities is undermined by legislative, capacity, and political constraints singular to Vietnam. It reinforces the importance of inspecting a system from within as context provides the key to understanding the nuances of the process.

Conclusions are that incongruent planning and environmental laws prevent the EIA system from reaching its procedural goals and that in many ways, Vietnam experiences problems identified in other jurisdictions including conflicts of interest, and limitations in meaningful public engagement. Vietnam has made several amendments to its environmental legislation in recent years, and for EIA in particular, but more changes are required to protect both people and the environment from the impacts of large scale developments.

Read the full article.