The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) is assigned by the Government to develop a Law on Environmental Protection (LEP) (amended) to comprehensively amend the LEP in 2014. The Draft LEP (amended) is being submitted to be commented by line ministries, sectors and people nationwide. Expectedly, The MONRE will complete and submit the Draft in the 9th Session, the 14th National Assembly. On this occasion, Vietnam Environment Administration Magazine (VEM) had an interview with Prof. PhD. Đặng Huy Huỳnh - Vice President of Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment on this issue, with emphasis on the content of natural landscapes and biodiversity.
VEM: Professor, as far as you may know, MONRE is completing the Draft LEP (amended) to submit to the 9th Session, the 14th National Assembly, so from a scientist perspective, would you please tell your opinion on this Law's amendment?
Prof. PhD. Đặng Huy Huỳnh: MONRE has been assigned by the Government and the Prime Minister to preside over and coordinate with Ministries, branches and localities to develop the Draft LEP (amended). This is a very important and necessary issue, bearing in mind full of natural and social sciences in order to meet the requirements of socio-economic development and international integration’s context. This Draft LEP (amended) represents a comprehensive, interdisciplinary and people-centered approach.
After nearly 5 years of implementation, the LEP 2014 has achieved many encouraging and recognized achievements domestically and internationally. However, in the implementation process, there are still many shortcomings and challenges that need to be amended and supplemented to suit the current situation. The Draft LEP (amended) has overcome gaps and shortcomings in recent years. The content of the Draft LEP has followed up and fully reflected the Party's guidelines and the State’s policies and guidelines and in accordance with international practices.
The Draft LEP (amended) has shown MONRE’s high sense of responsibility, the spirit of looking forward to broadening the vision and hearing toward other Ministries’, sectors’, localities’ and community’s comments. I expect that the Draft LEP (amended) will soon be approved by the National Assembly, meeting the people's aspirations for environmental protection in the period of industrialization - modernization of the country, especially in the period of industry 4.0. On the other hand, the Draft LEP (amended) emphasizes the role of the community in contributing to and participating in environmental protection and is responsible for the implementation, as well as monitoring of environmental protection.
By studying the contents of the Draft LEP (amended), I found that this Draft LEP has comprehensively demonstrated the rights of people to live in a healthy environment, according to the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam (2013). The Constitution stated: "Everyone has the right to live in a healthy environment".
VEM: This Draft LEP (amended) contains a chapter on the protection of natural landscapes and biodiversity. Compared to the LEP 2014, could you please tell us the new points mentioned in the Draft LEP (amended) on this issue?
Prof. PhD. Đặng Huy Huỳnh: LEP 2014, Chapter 3 refers to the content of environmental protection in the exploitation and use of natural resources, including 4 articles: Environmental protection concerns during the inspection, assessment and preparation of the planning for utilization of natural resources and biodiversity (Article 35); Protection and sustainable development of forest resources (Article 36); Protection and sustainable development of forest resources (Article 37); Environmental protection concerns during the basic survey, exploration, extraction and utilization of natural resources (Article 38). It can be seen that this approach is to control the impact on the specific components of natural resources, but has not addressed overall of environmental protection and rational use of natural resources.
The overall goal of the Draft LEP (amended) is to address, prevent the risk of unbalance, exceed the ecological threshold, diminish the value of natural landscapes, and specifically aim to fill the gaps in regulations of the current law on the management of negative impacts of socio-economic development on natural landscapes and biodiversity, the Draft LEP (amended) has added new regulations on landscape protection, important natural resources, biodiversity offsets, payment of ecosystem services to protect natural resources and biodiversity. Specifically, supplementing regulations on important natural landscapes stipulates that important natural landscapes are natural landscapes with high sensitivity and requirements for nature conservation and biodiversity, dividing into 3 groups to manage appropriately. These important natural landscapes must be assessed, ranked and identified boundary in the field; must have plans to maintain and protect; must have regulations on biodiversity impact assessment in environmental impact assessment for important natural landscapes. Supplement regulations on biodiversity survey and inventory are to identify and understand information about ecosystem components, species, genes, values of biodiversity and biodiversity services; agents and activities which causing biodiversity decline. Basing result of biodiversity survey and inventory to propose solutions for conservation and sustainably use of biodiversity components. Amending and supplementing regulations on biodiversity monitoring is to serve for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
In fact, in the context of climate change, the reduction of ecosystems (forests, wetlands, sea) and epidemics, especially the COVID - 19 epidemic is taking place more and more complicated, causing serious impacts affecting the development of the economy and the health of the community. Therefore, environmental protection and natural landscapes play an important role in sustainable development. This Draft LEP (amended) has brought the content of natural landscape protection to a new and integrated perspective, serving the orientation of rational use of natural resources and environmental protection. In my opinion, the protected natural landscape will bring a harmonious relationship between nature and people, between humans and biosphere. Therefore, the planning of natural landscapes scientifically and rationally will be the synergy in protecting natural resources, biodiversity conservation in particular and environmental protection in general. It is about creating a space that contains ecological niches and providing sustainable natural resources for living things (that is, creating habitats for plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms) and humans. Therefore, when planning natural landscapes, it is necessary to ensure its inherent natural functions such as climate control; water regulation, supply water; protection and soil formation; regulating nutrients, treating wastes, pollinating...
VEM: Professor, in the Draft Law, the assessment of natural landscape impact assessment is one part of the environmental impact assessment report. What does this mean for the country's biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development?
Prof. PhD. Đặng Huy Huỳnh: This is a completely new content mentioned in this Draft Law. I strongly agree and highly appreciate this content to prevent the risk of imbalance, exceed ecological thresholds, diminish the value of natural landscapes and fill gaps in current legal regulations to manage negative impacts of socio-economic development on natural landscapes and biodiversity. It also shows the forecast and trend of natural resources such as soil, water, plants, animals... basing on that to have solutions to prevent and contribute to environmental protection in territory of Việt Nam. This is also a mandatory regulation mentioned in this version of Draft LEP (amended). I fully believe and expect that when planning, socio-economic development projects that affect natural resources, ecosystems and the livelihood of the community, it is necessary to seriously implement the provisions stated in Draft LEP (amended).
VEM: Professor, could you please tell us some solutions that need to be implemented after the Draft LEP is passed and come into effect to protect the natural landscape and biodiversity?
Prof. PhD. Đặng Huy Huỳnh: I have great expectations and have confidence that the 14th National Assembly will approve the Law so that it will soon come into practice, contributing to environmental protection in service of sustainable socio-economic development. After the Law is passed, it must organize a public introduction of the provisions of the Law to raise public awareness about the obligations and interests in protecting the natural landscape in particular and the environment in general. State management agencies (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Agency - Vietnam Environment Administration; Forest Protection Department - General Department of Forestry) and other departments and localities should coordinate closely in the investigation, developing a database, monitor biodiversity, manage and supervise Law enforcement related to the natural landscape and biodiversity.
It is necessary to strictly enforce the provisions of the LEP, take measures to handle violations of the Law on Protection of natural landscapes and encourage good models on environmental protection in the community to replicate in the whole society.
The State should pay more attention to the investment and capacity building for state management agencies from the central to local levels in the protection of natural landscapes, biodiversity in particular and environmental protection in general.
Scientific research agencies and universities interested in researching, discovering and assessing the current state of natural resources in natural landscapes as a basis for formulating policies on use and rational exploitation of natural resources.
Promoting the potential and synergy of the community and businesses sectors (including small and medium-sized enterprises) nationwide to improve the responsibility in protecting the rational exploitation and use of natural resources, protecting sustainable natural landscapes.
VEM: Sincerely thank you!
Nguyên Hằng (Implemented)