Viet Nam is highly centralised, with the Constitution providing the fundamental and highest law (GLOBE International, 2013). The governmental structure is made up of the National Assembly, the Government, the People’s Courts and the People’s Prosecutor. At the central level, the National Assembly, with the Government as its executive body, holds the highest level of state power (IDLO, 2011). The state in Viet Nam is managed at four levels: central, provincial, district and communal
All laws and policies are issued by the government and the National Assembly, which elects a president as the head of state and a prime minister as the head of the government (GLOBE INTERNATIONAL, 2013). The three main types of legal instrument in Viet Nam, all of which have the force of law and require compliance, are laws, decrees and decisions/circulars. Laws are approved by the National Assembly following prior approval by the government. Decrees are issued by the Government without referring to the National Assembly and establish the rules beneath a law. Decisions and circulars are issued by the ministry responsible for drafting the original law and give policy guidance on how a law or decree should be implemented (AEI, 2012).
In Viet Nam, a series of national strategies and acts, supported by decrees and decisions enacting and promulgating their various components, have been developed in response to climate change. For example, Decision No. 2139/QD-TTg passed in December 2011, approved the National Strategy on Climate Change, which establishes national programmes to address climate change, including related to forests. Decision No. 779/QD-TTg was issued by the Prime Minister in June 2012, approving the National REDD+ Action Programme (NRAP) for the period 2011-2020.
Article 3 of the Law on Forest Protection and Development (LFPD) defines forests as including both natural and planted forests on production, protection and special-use forest land. In 2009, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) developed Circular No. 34/2009/TT-BNNPTNT further clarifying this definition and preventing the classification of barren land as forest, with important implications for the definition of forest eligible under REDD+ (UN-REDD PROGRAMME, 2013).
Carbon rights and benefit-sharing
The Constitution of 1992, amended in 2001, states that all forest resources, including land, trees and wildlife, are owned by the people (Article 17) and managed on their behalf by the state, who legally entrusts forest management to specific user groups.
In September 2007, MARD launched a programme to provide land use right certificates over all forest and forest land to communities, households and other economic entities. These certificates could provide the foundations for decisions over who will benefit from REDD+ revenues. Article 7 of the Law on Land (No. 13/2003/QH11) stipulates that “people’s councils at all levels shall exercise the right to supervise the implementation of laws on their land”. This could favour REDD+ in providing a means of guaranteeing the equitable allocation of carbon rights and thus benefit distribution. However, currently it is not specified whether land use rights include carbon rights, therefore ownership of carbon and of prospective carbon credits remains unclear. The Law on Forest Protection and Development (No. 29. 2004/QH112004) provides options for the allocation of forest resources to communities (Article 29), and therefore offers an opportunity for carbon rights to be allocated in line with community forestry ownership titles (UN-REDD PROGRAMME, 2013). Decision No. 178/2001/QD-TTg meanwhile stipulates how land can be allocated, leased or contracted to households and individuals for forest protection and management and the associated payments they can receive (UN-REDD PROGRAMME, 2011). While these combine to allocate emissions reductions and associated payments to individual households and communities, the Law on Environmental Protection contradicts this with provisions for the trade in emissions quotas between Viet Nam and other countries to be stipulated by the Prime Minister (Article 84) (UN-REDD PROGRAMME, 2011). Further to this, many Special-Use and Protection Forests are managed my management boards, which are non-profit and state-funded. This makes the establishment of voluntary or other carbon projects on forest land under their management legally difficult.
Other relevant laws
Other laws in Viet Nam relevant to REDD+ include the Law on Minerals. This prohibits mineral activities in Special-Use Forests, ProtectionForests, or land areas planned for such uses or for geological conservation (Article 28). This should support the implementation of REDD+, however conflicting interests and contradictions when it comes to mining and forest protection planning mean that mining is often prioritised over forest conservation (IDLO, 2011). Inconsistent goals in planning extend beyond the mining sector, with the agricultural sector presenting similar conflicts. Decision 750/QD-TTg aims for an increase of rubber plantations across Viet Nam; 800,000 hectares by 2020. This will require the conversion of forest to plantations and therefore presents potential problems for the implementation of REDD+ (IDLO, 2011).
Also relevant to REDD+ are the laws related to Payments for Environmental Services (PES).The Law on Biodiversity (No. 20/2008/QH12) states that proceeds from environmental services shall support biodiversity conservation and sustainable development (Article 73). Further to this, the Decree on the Policy on Payment for Environment Services (Decree No. 99/2010/ND-CP) supplements the PES framework in Viet Nam. Under Article 4, forest carbon sequestration, retention of carbon, reductions in GHG emissions by preventing forest loss and degeneration and sustainable forest development are all classified as forest environmental services for which charges must be paid. The Decree assigns the responsibility of payments for these environmental services to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) (Article 4) and further dictates who is eligible to receive the payments (Article 8).
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GLOBE INTERNATIONAL. 2013. The GLOBE Climate Legislation Study. Third Edition. A Review of Climate Change Legislation in 33 Countries. Vietnam. Available here. [Accessed April 2013]
INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT LAW ORGANIZATION (IDLO). 2011. Legal Preparedness for REDD+ in Vietnam. Country Study. November 2011. Available here. [Accessed April 2013]
UN-REDD Programme. 2011. Viet Nam National REDD+ Programme: Background document. UN-REDD Programme. Version 3 February, 2011. Available here. [Accessed May 2013]
UN-REDD PROGRAMME. 2012b. UN-REDD Viet Nam Phase II Programme: Operationalising REDD+ in Viet Nam. UN-REDD Programme. 27 November 2012. Available here. [Accessed April 2013]
UN-REDD PROGRAMME. 2013. Legal analysis of cross-cutting issues for REDD+ implementation. Lessons learned from Mexico, Viet Nam and Zambia. Available here. [Accessed May 2013]