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FEATURE STORY

Improving the institutional capacity for water pollution control in Vietnam

August 5, 2010


August 2010 - In spite of continuous and significant efforts made by Vietnamese Government for pollution, the state of environment in Vietnam has continued experiencing degradation, especially as concerns water resources.

Since 2000, the Vietnamese Government had promulgated a number of legal documents aiming at the strengthening of water pollution control such as Decree 149/2004/ND-CP dated 27/7/2004 on licensing, inventory, exploiting and using water resources and discharging wastewater into water sources; Decree No. 34/2005/ND-CP dated 17/3/2005 regulating administrative penalities for pollution of water resources, Decree No. 67/2003/ND-CP dated 13/6/2003 on environmental protection fees for wastewater (hereafter called Decree No.67) and Decision No. 64/2003/QD-TTg dated 22/4/2003 of Prime Minister approving the National Action Plan on strictly handling establishments that cause serious environmental pollution (hereafter called Decision No.64), etc. Of these, Decree No. 67 and Decision No. 64 have played the most important roles in water pollution control.

The World Bank project “Improving the institutional capacity for water pollution control in Vietnam” was launched in late 2006 and closed in August 2009. It supported technical assistance to strengthen the legal framework for water pollution control and the effectiveness of its implementation through

  • Improvements to the implementing instruments for Decree 67 and Decision 64;
  • Strengthening the capacity of key agencies for compliance and monitoring and evaluation of these;
  • Improving public awareness and participation;
  • Providing assistance to the business sector in achieving environmental compliance.

The project of $300,000 was funded by a grant from the World Bank’s Institutional Development Facility (IDF). The recipient of the Grant was the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MONRE). This project (P099405) was a continuation of previous IDF grants and several international projects focusing on environmental information management and using public disclosure as a supportive tool for enhancement of the effectiveness of water pollution control. The project document can be located in the World Bank’s website.

Based on the facts and findings derived from the project’s activities and reporting system, in March 2009, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) sent the Ministry of Finance an official letter (No.1417/BTNMT-TC) to request the revision of Decree 67, the Decree 04/ND-CP on the revision of Decree 67 and the secondary legal instruments of these decrees. The recommendations and request from MONRE will be reviewed and incorporated in updating the aforementioned legal documents. Regarding the implementation of Decision 64, all recommendations derived from project activities were adopted by the Office 64 under MONRE in order to update the list of seriously polluting enterprises.

The capacity of key agencies for compliance and monitoring and evaluation of these legal instruments has been strengthened through many consultative workshops, training courses and replication workshops held under the framework of the project. These communication events have benefited about 220 environmental regulators and officials from central environmental authorities and 48 of the 63 provincial Departments of Natural Resources and Environment (DONREs); 40 journalists from central and local mass media organizations; 64 environmental managers of the enterprises and 276 representatives from district and commune level authorities and communities.

The public disclosure program has been promoted through the development of the project’s website and a rating system which is posted online. As designed, the rating system and database on the supervision of wastewater fee collection would serve as a tool to connect environmental authorities at all levels, enterprises and communities in order to improve their awareness and to encourage their active participation in the supervision of environmental performance and full compliance to environmental legislation, especially in terms of wastewater management. 

In order to provide the business sector with technical assistance in achieving environmental compliance, four key technical manuals and guidelines (e.g. on cleaner production implementation, access to financial sources, environmental self-monitoring procedures and self-rating methodology) have been developed and published by the project. These publications are available on the project web site as noted above and on World Bank’s website. Over 1,900 copies of each publication have been distributed together with an official announcement issued by Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA) to 63 provincial DONREs and 26 Management Boards of Industrial Parks in 22 provinces in order to induce the enterprises nationwide to apply. Especially, the 10 selected enterprises in Bac Ninh and Quang Nam provinces in pilot program under the framework of the project benefited from receiving direct instructions and technical assistance from local consulting firms on the implementation of cleaner production, self-monitoring, self-rating and some basic monitoring equipments (e.g. the apparatus serving for environmental analysis and labor safety facilities) for conducting environment self-monitoring at enterprises. In addition, two applications for financial support were prepared by two enterprises with the support of the project and were submitted to Vietnam Environment Protection Fund (VEPF). According to VEA, these two applications will be favorably considered.

In this context, the activities implemented within the framework of this grant have supported the Government’s on-going efforts to improve the management of and the supervision of pollution control activities and environmental performances of enterprises. Especially, the improvement of public awareness and information and monitoring systems will contribute significantly in strengthening the effectiveness of the supervision of environmental authorities over the enterprises’ compliance with environmental legislation. This will help to more and more strictly control illegally discharged wastewater into the environment. The Completion report of this grant is available on the Bank’s website.

This brief was prepared by Tran Thi Thanh Phuong with assistance of Le Thanh Huong Giang based on the Implementation Completion Memo.

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