Safeguard C Detail

Content with Safeguard C C2 times .

In the context of REDD+, the knowledge of ethnic minorities and members of local communities is clarified in Viet Nam in line with the definition of ‘traditional knowledge’ in article 8(j) of the Convention on Biological Diversity[1], ratified by Viet Nam, as including the “knowledge, innovations and practices…developed through the experiences of communities over centuries, adapted to local needs, cultures and environments and passed down from generation to generation[2].

Viet Nam’s National Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 and Vision to 2030 was submitted to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2015 and includes activities to ‘establish a mechanism for managing access to genetic resources, sharing benefits, protection, and traditional knowledge of genetic resources’[3]



[2] Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity (2011), Factsheet on Traditional Knowledge,

[3] MONRE (2015) Viet Nam’s National Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 and Vision to 2030,


Viet Nam’s 5th National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity (covering the period 2009-2013)[1] reports on efforts to preserve indigenous knowledge, innovations and practices and to ensure equitable sharing of benefits from genetic resources:

  • National research institutes have investigated and assisted in further development of indigenous knowledge of mountainous ethnic communities related to natural resource protection and utilisation, including documenting medicinal plants and traditional remedies of Dao, Nung, Tay, and Hmong ethnic minority populations.
  • Some traditional practices such as protecting sacred forests and watersheds are maintained and developed by local authorities. Several traditional festivals like Cau ngu (praying for fish) in coastal communities are still organised every year.
  • The previous National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan included efforts to ensure community rights and participation in protected area management. Government sectoral development strategies and projects have also recognised the importance of equal sharing of benefits from biodiversity resources and ecological services. In the national programmes No. 327 and No. 661 on reforestation, local people have been allocated land, forests, and water to manage and utilize for production.


Viet Nam’s specific targets for 2009-2013, related to sustainable use and equitable sharing benefits from ecosystems, species and genetic resources, are shown below:


Implementing agency

2010 2015 2020 Evaluation method
Degraded ecosystems restored MARD No data --- At least 15% up compared with to 2010

By statistics

Valuable wildlife are bred MARD ---

15% up compared with to 2010

30% up compared with to 2010

By statistics

Valuable wildlife are bred MARD

10 PAs

 10% up

 50% up



[1] MONRE (2014) Viet Nam’s Fifth National Report to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. Reporting period: 2009-2013.

In Viet Nam, the rights of ethnic minorities and members of local communities include the rights that accrue to all citizens of Viet Nam, as set out in the Constitution of Viet Nam (2013), as well as specific rights that have been set out and highlighted in specific policies, laws and regulations.

The Constitution of Viet Nam (2013) affirms that “all ethnicities are equal, unified and respect and assist one another for mutual development; all acts of national discrimination and division are strictly forbidden,” and that “every ethnic group has the right to use its own language and system of writing, to preserve its national identity, to promote its fine customs, habits, traditions and culture”[1]. The legal framework explicitly recognises and protects a number of rights with regard to ethnic minorities including the right of non-discrimination, the recognition and promotion of cultural rights and cultural inheritance of ethnic minorities’ cultural rights, and fair benefit-sharing (see also Safeguard B2.3). The right to non-discrimination is supported by Article 116 of the Penal Code (2015). Local communities may hold rights to land use and forest use[2], and to have their lawful rights to use this land and the land-attached assets protected[3].

Viet Nam’s overall policy and legal framework of pays special attention to ethnic minority and other rural, poor communities to promote their access to basic human rights and services in aiming to support economic development and poverty reduction in these areas. Policies which aim to specifically promote economic development and inclusion for ethnic minorities and remote (often forest dependent) local communities include the National Sustainable Development Strategy (2011-2020)[4], the Forest Development Strategy (2006-2020)[5], the National Target Programme on New Rural Development (2016-2020)[6], the Target Programme for Sustainable Forest Development (2016-2020)[7], and specific policies to support the socio-economic development of ethnic minority and mountainous areas in the period to 2020[8]. The National REDD+ Programme[9] also includes specific policies and measures intended to respect and strengthen the knowledge and rights of ethnic minorities and communities, for example: awareness raising activities to enhance the knowledge of communities on their legal rights; promoting forest land allocation to households and communities; and promoting co-management of natural forests.

The legal framework recognises and protects several specific rights with regard to ethnic minorities including the right of non-discrimination, the recognition and promotion of cultural rights and cultural inheritance of ethnic minorities’ cultural rights[10]. The legal framework also provides safeguards for the knowledge and rights of ethnic minorities and communities with respect to land and natural resources:

  • Ethnic minorities have the same legal rights to land use and forest land as other Vietnamese citizens. They may be allocated or assigned lands for use in accordance with the law (including based on customary use prior to 2004)[11];
  • Communities, including ethnic minority communities, can be allocated forests for use and management in accordance with the law[12];
  • The traditional knowledge of ethnic minorities and local communities is respected in the legal framework through the provision that local regulations can be developed to uphold community customs in compliance with State regulations[13];

In addition, free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) is an important principle set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), which Viet Nam has adopted[14], and which is relevant to addressing and respecting Safeguard C. Viet Nam was one of the first countries to pilot FPIC for REDD+ (in Lam Dong Province in 2010). An independent evaluation and verification of the process was completed in November 2010[15] and the recommendations were considered in the development of national guidelines on the application of FPIC in REDD+ in Viet Nam[16] alongside a reflection of lessons learnt from the pilot period[17]. These guidelines were later incorporated into the process to develop and revise the National REDD+ Programme, as well as the national guidance to provinces on the development of their Provincial REDD+ Action Plans[18].

The Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) is responsible for coordinating with ministries, ministerial-level agencies and agencies attached to the Government in realising specific policies and measures related to ethnic minorities in Viet Nam. As part of this role and through its provincial offices, CEMA is responsible for identifying and targeting support to ethnic minorities in Viet Nam.

In relation to land use rights, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, and provincial Departments of Natural Resources and the Environment within their respective localities, are responsible for land use planning, land allocations, registration and transfers. Provincial, District and Commune People's Committees approve land use plans, and receive and resolve disputes and grievances. In relation to forests, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and its provincial departments are responsible for forest allocation, assignment and lease, developing and implementing forest protection and development plans, and overseeing the management of forests.


[1] The Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam (2013): Article 5.

[2] The Land Law (2013), Article 5. See also the Law on Forestry (2017, effective 1 January 2019), Article 2(9).

[3] The Land Law (2013), Article 26.

[4] Issued according to Prime Minister’s Decision No. 432/2012/QD-TTg.

[5] The Forest Development Strategy (2006-2020)

[6] Issued according to Prime Minister’s Decision No. 1600/2016/QD-TTg.

[7] Issued according to Prime Minister’s Decision No. 886/2017/QD-TTg.

[8] Issued according to Prime Minister’s Decision No. 2085/2016/QD-TTg and Government Decree No. 75/2015/ND-CP.

[9] National REDD+ Programme 2017

[10] The Constitution of Viet Nam (2013) Article 5; the Penal Code (2015) Article 116; Articles 7, 10 & 13 of Decree No. 05/2011/ND-CP; Articles 4-22 of Decision No. 178/2001/QD-TTg.

[11] The Land Law (2013); Articles 3, 19-30 & 32 of Decree No. 43/2014/ND-CP; Decree No. 47/2014/ND-CP; Decision No. 63/2015/QD-TTg.

[12] The Code of Civil Procedure (2015); the Land Law (2013); the Law on Forest Protection and Development (2004) and the Forestry Law (2017, effective 1 January 2019).

[13] Prime Minister’s Directive No. 24/1998/CT-TTg; Joint Circular No. 03/2000/BTP-BVHTT-BTTUBTWMTTQVN; Joint Circular No. 04/2001/TTLT-BTP-BVHTT-BTTUBMTTQVN-UBQGDSKHHGD; MARD Circular No. 70/2007/TT-BNN, 8/1/2007.

[14] United Nations General Assembly (2007) United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)

[15] RECOFTC (2010) Evaluation and Verification of the Free, Prior and Informed Consent Process under the UN-REDD Programme in Lam Dong Province, Viet Nam.

[16] UN-REDD Viet Nam Phase I Programme (2013) Guidelines for applying FPIC in the preparation and implementation of REDD+ in Viet Nam

[17] VNFOREST (2010) Brief Report: Applying the Principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent in the UN-REDD Programme in Viet Nam, August 2010, MARD.

A number of potential benefits and risks related to ethnic minority and local community rights have been identified through REDD+ planning processes at the national and subnational levels. The 2017 assessment of potential benefits and risks arising from the implementation of National REDD+ Programme[1]policies and measures includes a range of benefits and risks related to the rights of ethnic minorities and local communities, summarised as follows:

  • REDD+ policies and measures may support improved access to, and strengthened use rights over, lands and forest resources (and associated natural capital).
  • There is a risk of loss of productive assets such as land, access or use rights to forests/forestry lands and, therefore, potential for increasing conflicts over land tenure and/or use.
  • Potential reduced access to resources, such as forest and land, for subsistence and/or livelihoods, with negative impacts on livelihoods.
  • Through REDD+ there may be improved public participation in land use planning and strategic environmental assessment/environmental impact assessment processes; however, there are risks for lack of transparency, non-inclusivity of key/vulnerable groups (such as ethnic minorities) and/or manipulation in consultation processes.
  • Financial mechanisms, the business incubator-accelerator, and green investments/credit mechanism may better serve interests of the private sector compared to smallholders.
  • There could be increased vulnerability to economic shocks or trends for smallholder farmers, should the promotion of sustainable agriculture models focused on particular crops lead to dependence on specific commodities; the risks may be higher for poorer farmers.
  • Risks related to inequitable benefit distribution, social exclusion and elite capture of REDD+ benefits.

The assessment at the national level also put forward a number of suggested measures  for enhancing the identified benefits and reducing risks related to ethnic minorities and local communities, including:

  • Decision support tools for integrated land use planning, as well as consultations for strategic environmental assessment/environmental impact assessment should integrate social parameters to avoid or mitigate access and use restrictions and the loss of productive assets and livelihoods. Special attention should be given to the inclusion of the poorest communities, ethnic minorities and gender issues into the process. Representatives of ethnic minorities and women should be selected through a community-based, participatory and transparent manner and should participate at all stages of the processes.
  • Appraisal and field verification should be carried out to ensure that communities will not be negatively impacted by the land-use planning process and that their rights are respected, especially for ethnic minorities and women.
  • Forest land allocation procedures should be clarified and properly implemented, and should address issues of inequity; these processes should also be combined with other supporting investments in community/household abilities to develop, manage and protect forest land effectively (e.g. through access to credit, training, benefit-sharing models and processes like free prior and informed consent (FPIC)).
  • To ensure inclusive, participatory and transparent consultation processes, clear guidelines should be elaborated covering a range of aspects, such as selection of representatives, inclusion of all impacted groups, information to be discussed and disclosed, consent process, use of minority languages, etc.
  • Clear guidelines should be developed and implemented for collaborative forest management, non-timber forest products business models, and livelihoods interventions; suggestions include assessing land tenure, participatory mapping, FPIC, and capacity-building for public sector implementation agencies. Collaborative forest management approaches are considered highly appropriate to address potential conflict as well as promote the participation of communities in afforestation/reforestation activities.
  • Plantation and sustainable forest management activities should maintain a focus on including communities and addressing social safeguards issues, e.g. promoting long rotation forestry and sustainable forest management for smallholders and community forestry cooperatives.
  • Clear policies, principles, standard operating procedures and guidelines should be developed for financial mechanisms to enhance co-benefits and address risks. Attention should focus on developing and operationalising safeguards to protect rural communities and smallholders in key commodities (e.g. coffee, shrimp, rubber), such as guidelines and procedures for performing screening and due diligence checks, inclusive business approaches in commodity platforms, and provisions to enable poor farmers and communities to access credit and make long term investments.
  • Sustainable agricultural models should integrate farmer risk mitigation measures such as diversification of income sources through agroforestry models, improved varieties, and reducing overall costs of plantations/farming techniques, etc.

Free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) is discussed under Safeguard C2.2.1 and is a key element of measures that can enhance benefits and reduce risks for local communities and ethnic minorities. In addition,   Grievance Redress Mechanisms (GRMs) relevant to REDD+ in Viet Nam are also expected to address complaints and disputes related to the rights of ethnic minorities and local communities (see Safeguard B2.6). The processes in place to ensure the transparency and fairness of benefit sharing are also covered under Safeguard B2.3.

At the sub-national level, analysis of social and environmental risks and benefits is also required for the development of Provincial REDD+ Action Plans (PRAPs)[2]. In specific sub-national locations, assessments have also been carried out through the Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) during the development of the FCPF Emission Reductions (ER) Program in the North-Central Coast Region of Viet Nam, and through the assessment of Environmental and Social Considerations for the Project for Sustainable Forest Management in the Northwest Watershed Area (SUSFORM-NOW) funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The ER Program area includes 13 ethnic minority groups that are mainly found in the largely mountainous districts and communes that have higher percentages of land classified as forest. The main social concerns relate to security of land tenure, access to resources and improvement to livelihood, lack of recognition of customary land tenure rights for agricultural and forest land and gender issues. Risks identified relate to the potential impacts restrictions on land use and/or access to non-timber forest products and forest resources from REDD+, affecting forest dependent communities and their livelihoods[3]. The ER Program recommends a number of measures to mitigate these risks for ethnic minorities and local communities, such as:

  • Further local assessment work including a social risk assessment, and improved management plans for State Forest Companies, Protection Forest Management Boards and Special Use Forests.
  •  Design of local site-specific small-scale livelihood activities identified through the Adaptive Collaborative Management Approach and supported through the Benefit Sharing Mechanism;
  • Improvements to land tenure security through reduction in land access conflicts, support for Forest land Allocation.

The ESMF will include an Ethnic Minority Planning Framework (EMPF) that will guide screening and preparation of site-specific Ethnic Minority Development Plans (EMDPs).  The ER Program also includes mechanisms to help address the underlying problem of inadequate consultations with communities in specific locations such as REDD+ Needs Assessment (RNA), Social Screening Report (SSR) and a locally prioritised management plan that require an assessment of impacts and possible mitigation measures to avoid or address potential undesirable effects.


[1] NRAP 2017

[2] MARD (2015) No. 5414/QD-BNN-TCLN Decision on Approving the guidelines on development of provincial action plans on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through efforts to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, sustainable forest management, and conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+), 25 December 2015, MARD.

[3] Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Carbon Fund. Emission Reductions Program Document (ER-PD). Date of Submission: 5 January 2018


The following information shows the status and trends in a number of indicators related to ownership and rights to land and forest resources for local communities and ethnic minorities nationally. These trends highlight overall progress in land and forest rights for these stakeholder groups.

Number and proportion of ethnic minority households lacking land, 2015

Administrative units

Number of ethnic minority households lacking residential land

Number of ethnic minority households lacking productive land

Percentage of ethnic minority households lacking residential land

Percentage of ethnic minority households lacking productive land

All communes of ethnic minorities nationwide





Forested provinces/metropolitan areas

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