Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of the Environment

Vietnam is characterised by a long coastline with peat swamps and mangrove forests, and pine, limestone and lowland rainforests inland, as well many rivers and great variety in its topography, climate and soils. The Mekong region, of which Vietnam forms a part, is one of the areas of the world with the greatest diversity of rare flora and fauna. Species that are new to science continue to be uncovered.


(Photo: CIFOR)


The forests of Vietnam
Deforestation and Climate Change
Norway-Vietnam climate and forest partnership
Civil Society support
Illegal logging and trade in forest products
Norwegian development aid to Vietnam

The Forests of Vietnam

Vietnam is characterised by a long coastline with peat swamps and mangrove forests, and pine, limestone and lowland rainforests inland, as well many rivers and great variety in its topography, climate and soils. The Mekong region, of which Vietnam forms a part, is one of the areas of the world with the greatest diversity of rare flora and fauna. Species that are new to science continue to be uncovered.

Deforestation and Climate Change in Vietnam

Rice paddies in Quang Nam province in Vietnam. Credit: Eirik Brun Sørlie

The country has suffered considerable deforestation since the 1940s, as a result of war and population increase. Between 1943 and 1990, forest cover decreased from 43 to 27%. Since 1990, massive afforestation and reforestation efforts have brought forest cover up to 40 %, or close to 15 million ha. Deforestation and degradation however continues in remaining natural forest (11 million ha), and intact natural forest providing the full range of ecosystem services now makes up less than 1% of forest area.

Vietnam ranks high among the countries most exposed to the impacts of climate change. These include rising sea levels, more intense monsoons, and saltwater intrusion into the fertile Mekong Delta. There are already indications that Vietnam's position as one of the largest rice exporters in the world could be jeopardized, along with domestic food security.

Barges on the river Mekong in Vietnam. Credit: Eirik Brun Sørlie

Role of Vietnam in the climate negotiations

Vietnam presented its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution in due time before the climate meeting in Paris. The plan assumes that emissions of greenhouse gases in 2020 will double from the 2010 level of 250 mill. tonnes CO2, and triple in 2030. Vietnam commits to reduce emissions from these expected levels by 8% out of its own funds, and up to 25% with international support.

Norway-Vietnam partnership on REDD+

Water buffaloes are used to plow fields in Ha Giang province. Credit: Eirik Brun Sørlie

In December 2012, at the climate summit in Doha, Norway and Vietnam signed a climate and forest agreement. The agreement includes support of NOK 180 million for Vietnam's preparatory work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation of forests. Norway provides support through the UN-REDD Programme, consisting of UNEP, UNDP and FAO. The partnership also involves a Joint Declaration, outlining the pathway towards results based support for reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Vietnam's REDD+ Programme is organized into three phases. The inception phase, implemented by the UN-REDD Programme, took place from 2009 to 2012. An external evaluation found that goals and targets had not been realistic, and that the efforts of the three UN organizations had been poorly coordinated. Recommendations included involving the private sector and civil society in the implementation in the second phase of the programme, and focusing more efforts at the provincial level.

Forested landscape in Bach Ma National Park in Vietnam. Credit: Eirik Brun Sørlie

A second phase, for implementation between 2013 and 2015, was negotiated between Norway, Vietnam and the UN-REDD Programme ahead of the climate meeting in Doha 2012. The focus of this phase is to enable six pilot provinces to monitor emissions form forest and land use change, and to manage results based support for reduced emissions. Vietnam also committed to improve communities access to manage forests, and to reduce displacement of emissions associated with timber imports and Vietnamese investments in rubber plantations in neighbouring countries. By the end of 2015 limited results had been achieved, particularly with regards to the drivers of deforestation and degradation outside the forest sector and issues relating to regional displacement of emissions to neighbouring countries.

A no-cost extension has been granted for programme implementation up to 2018, along with measures to simplify the governance of the programme and speed up implementation. With a new focus on simplifying the governance of the programme, identifying investment options that can impact the drivers of deforestation and successful demonstration of in six pilot provinces, the goal is to prepare Vietnam for results based support for emissions reduction in time for implementation of the Paris Agreement by 2020.

Disbursements of funds

Out of agreed support of NOK 180 million, 100 million have so far been disbursed through the UNDP Multi Partner Trust Fund. Further disbursements will be made through 2016-18 based on satisfactory reporting of results achieved, sound fiduciary management of funds, as well as documentation of further needs for financing.

Support to civil society

Support to civil society in partner countries forms an important part of the strategy of the Norwegian Climate and Forest Initiative. A funding arrangement for this purpose is managed by Norad. Under the current call for 2016-2020 three non-governmental organizations are supported in Vietnam under this arrangement. An overview of recipients under this call may be found at the Norad website.

Workers clear a field for rice paddies in Ha Giang province Vietnam. Credit: Eirik Brun Sørlie

Illegal logging and trade in forest products

Vietnam also collaborates with both the EU and the US to safeguard that only legal forest products are imported from Vietnam to these markets. This chiefly applies to timber imported into Vietnam for processing into furniture for export, carrying significant risk of illegal timber entering the supply chain. The improvements in forest governance and transparency inherent in these trade agreements could make a considerable contribution to reducing corruption as well as reducing emissions from forests.  

Roundlogs from Lao imported to Ha Thien province-Vietnam. Credit: Eirik Brun Sørlie

Norwegian aid to Vietnam

Norway's development collaboration with Vietnam goes back to 1971 and has focused in particular on petroleum and fisheries management. Vietnam is now a medium-income country, and traditional ODA is now increasingly being replaced by economic cooperation and trade. Economic growth in 2015 was 6,7 per cent, but there is still significant poverty among ethnic minorities, whose subsistence is most often linked to remaining natural forest.

Norway has had a human rights dialogue with the country since 2003, focusing, inter alia, on the situation of the ethnic minorities. The dialogue takes place in an open and frank manner, and the Vietnamese authorities are very familiar with Norwegian views on issues such as freedom of speech, the situation for human rights defenders, capital punishment and the role of civil society.

Zero tolerance for corruption

Vietnam ranks 112 out of 168 countries in Transparency International's 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index. Norway channels all climate and forest funding through internationally recognised institutions with the capacity and competence to handle aid finance and the risk of corruption in a proper manner. Norway's support to Vietnam is channelled through the UNDP Multi Partner Trust Fund and Norway coordinates its efforts to reduce emissions and corruption with other donors, the World Bank and civil society organisations that are engaged in climate, forests and land use change issues.

International competence centres on corruption and forest crime are also watching Vietnam closely, as the country plays a key role in the international trade in illegal timber and endangered wildlife.