Responding to climate change in Vietnam: a study of climate action planning at provincial level.

Nguyen Sy, L 2017, Responding to climate change in Vietnam: a study of climate action planning at provincial level., Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Responding to climate change in Vietnam: a study of climate action planning at provincial level.
Author(s) Nguyen Sy, L
Year 2017
Abstract Climate change is a global issue, but its impacts are localised. It is also a ‘wicked’ problem that requires innovative approaches to formulate and implement policies and measures that respond to the impacts of climate change effectively. Vietnam is extremely vulnerable to climate change and has been identified as among the five countries, globally, that are most affected by the impacts of climate change. In addition, Vietnam has limited resources to prepare and respond to such impacts.

This PhD research brings a new understanding to climate action planning processes, particularly at provincial level in Vietnam. The aims of the research were to identify and analyse the patterns and procedures in climate action planning in Vietnam’s provinces and major cities between 2011 and 2013, and to explain the reasons behind the choices that were made with a view to recommending ways of improving policy making processes in the future. The research involved analysing the content of 40 climate action plans, and then conducting qualitative research into the processes of climate action planning or plan-making in three sample provinces.

Results of the research indicate that the objectives, priorities and activities in the provincial action plans were strongly influenced by national climate policy prescriptions. In addition, those approved in 2012 and 2013 adopted more innovative approaches to climate change and requested larger budgets than the action plans approved in 2011. The timelines for the implementation of action plans also varied among the provinces, with the provincial climate action plans that were developed and approved in the later years having longer implementation timelines than those approved earlier.

The findings of the research also reveal that climate change policy making in Vietnam is quite dynamic, and tends to be more innovative than other areas of public policy of the country. The policy-making process at national level indicates two approaches: strong political commitment in the early stage; then moving forward to a more mainstreaming approach. The study also reveals that capacity of the provincial government is critically important in designing a climate action plan and delivering the proposed measures. The national climate change policy framework provides a direction for reframing the action plans at provincial level; but the local context and local capacity influences the plans that are made. At provincial level, due to limited resources (both technical and financial), climate action planning has inherited a traditional plan-making process, in which the participation of civil societies and the private sector are very limited. Budget allocation for implementing action plans is still heavily reliant on the state budget, and some provinces did not even propose any budget estimation in their action plans. Furthermore, 70% of provinces set out the objectives of ‘improve and strengthen capacity’ and ‘increase awareness and responsibility’ although the budget allocated for these capacity building and awareness raising was very limited. This means that, in order to implement their climate action plans, provinces have to prepare other action plans or adopt further budget planning. In addition, the lack of staff time and capacity has created challenges to the transformation of conventional plan-making practice into more robust and interactive planning, in which more resources can be mobilised from interested stakeholders, and necessary resources can be secured for implementation.

This research found that even in the centralised-orientation policy-making system of Vietnam, sub-national governments still have a certain level of autonomy in developing their climate action plans based on the general guideline of central government. The differences in institutional setting, participation and budget planning, as well the plan adoption of the provinces, appear to be influenced by factors such as motivation, institutional capacity, and knowledge of local governments.

This study suggests that, in order to improve the effectiveness of a new policy in general and climate action plan making in particular, it is essential to have an appropriate institutional setting that can mobilise human and financial resources to support the formulation and implementation of a new policy. Policy network should be established as soon as the policy issue is initially raised and put on an agenda. Networking with NGOs and private sectors should be put in place as soon as possible, to leverage contributions of technical and financial supports, particularly for climate change adaptation. Leadership and autonomy of provincial governments on the climate change issue should be strengthened, as these are important in proposing activities to respond to local climate change impacts effectively. A mainstreaming approach in climate action planning should also be promoted, as the political-commitment approach is not effectively applicable, as it requires clear allocated resources that, in the context of Vietnam's limited resources, are not able to be allocated in full amount for climate change activities at local level. Provincial governments, therefore, should be more active in diversifying budget sources to undertake their climate activities.

Future studies should be undertaken to examine the dynamic of multi-level climate action plan making in other policy-making systems and in the other socio-economical contexts, and to understand the evolution of climate change policy-making within a country in relation to the international climate change policy agenda. Studies on factors that influence learning processes across borders should also be recommended. In addition, future research should seek to identify the role of wider participation, particularly NGOs and the private sector, in reframing national climate change policies at the provincial level, in order to better mobilise resources to improve the design of policies and implement them more effectively.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global, Urban and Social Studies
Subjects Urban and Regional Planning not elsewhere classified
Ecological Impacts of Climate Change
Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) capacity
climate action planning
climate change
institutional setting
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Created: Thu, 22 Jun 2017, 13:33:17 EST by Denise Paciocco
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