In the Viet Nam context, this safeguard element is understood as creating and implementing policies and measures that seek to enhance the socio-cultural, economic, ecological, biological, climatic and environmental, contributions (or benefits) provided by forest resources. The policies and measures of Viet Nam’s National REDD+ Programme, aim to enhance both environmental and social benefits.
Viet Nam’s policy framework, including the National Forest Development Strategy (2006-2020), the National Forest Sector Master Plan (2011-2020), the National Target Program on Sustainable Forest Development (2016-2020), and the National Target Program on New Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation (2016-2020), emphasises that the forest sector should contribute to economic growth, poverty alleviation and environmental protection.
The Forestry Law (2017) requires that “sustainable forest management, harvesting and use of forests must go hand in hand with conservation of natural resources as well as enhancing forest economic, cultural and historical values, protecting the environment, responding to climate change, and improving people’s livelihoods”.
 National Forest Development Strategy (2006-2020)
 National Forest Sector Master Plan (2011-2020)
 National Target Program on Sustainable Forest Development (2017-2020)
 National Target Program on New Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation (2016-2020)
 The Forestry Law (2017, effective 1 January 2019), Article 10
The National REDD+ Programme (NRAP, 2017) includes a number of policies and measures that aim to enhance both environmental and social benefits, including: supporting integrated planning processes towards achieving the national forest cover target; promoting public participation in environmental and social impact assessments to improve land use decision making (enhancing environmental and social benefits and minimising risks); supporting farmers to develop sustainable agricultural models for key commodities; promoting forest land allocation to households and communities and sustainable livelihoods for forest dependent communities; promoting sustainable forestry; developing methods for calculating the Total Economic Value (TEV) of forests and including it in future land use decision making.
Environmental and social co-benefits and risks of the NRAP policies and measures have been assessed, and co-benefit enhancement and risk mitigation measures suggested. The key environmental and social co-benefits of REDD+ implementation in Viet Nam include the following:
- Conservation of biodiversity through maintaining natural forests or restoring forest ecosystems, and through maintained or improved connectivity of forest habitats;
- Improved, or maintained, supply of forest goods and ecosystem services (natural capital);
- Improved access to, and strengthened use rights over, lands and forest resources (natural capital);
- Rural employment opportunities, improved incomes and sustainable/diversified livelihoods from forestry activities, including from forest protection, as well as from non-forestry activities (financial capital) for rural and forest-dependent households and communities, especially the poor;
- Improved awareness, knowledge and capacity (human capital) among beneficiary populations and civil society participating in REDD+ policies and measures;
- Improved connections and networks (social capital) among communities and civil society to effect positive outcomes for rural forest-dependent poor and other vulnerable groups;
- Improved community infrastructure (physical capital) for poor and remote communities;
- Increased resilience and adaptation to climate change and its associated effects;
- Improved governance framework for land and forest use enhancing the potential for more secure livelihoods through positive transformations to enabling structures and processes.
Key environmental and social risks of REDD+ implementation in Viet Nam include:
- Ongoing loss of natural forests, high carbon value forests or forests that perform other important ecosystem services;
- Conversion of natural non-forest habitats impacting biodiversity, ecosystem services, soil carbon stocks and ecological connectivity;
- Loss of productive assets, access or use rights to forests/forestry lands and, therefore, increasing land tenure and use conflicts, as well as reduced access to resources for subsistence/livelihoods;
- Lack of transparency, non-inclusivity and/or use of manipulation in consultation process in social and environmental impact assessments;
- Investments, incentives and potential higher markets prices in agriculture could make crop production more effective or attractive and contribute to deforestation over the long term or at scale;
- Risks of soils, water, biodiversity degradation with the use of agro-chemicals to improve yields;
- Financial mechanisms may better serve the interests of private sector compared to smallholders, and/or increased profitability for private sector at the expense of smallholders;
- Increased vulnerability of farmers/smallholders to economic shocks or trends;
- Forest land allocation and collaborative management approaches could lead to adverse effects on forest protection and legitimise unsustainable use of forests and forest lands;
- Non-timber forest product business models could result in over-exploitation of non-timber forest products and/or degradation/deforestation for their production (e.g. spread of bamboo over natural forest);
- Inequitable benefit distribution, social exclusion and elite capture;
- Poor plantation planning and management and impacts on biodiversity and soils;, and risks of pests, disease infestations and fires in plantations;
- Displacement of land use into forest areas;
- Lack on maintenance or abandonment of coastal forests plantations on lands classified as protection or special-use forests;
- Inundation in Melaleuca forest leading to detrimental impacts on biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions;
- Green credit mechanisms could be used for non-sustainable investments.
A range of measures to enhance these social and environmental benefits have been suggested through the assessment of the benefits and risks of the NRAP policies and measures. These are also discussed under other safeguards, and include the following suggestions:
- 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.
- Forest land allocation procedures should be clarified and properly implemented; these processes should also be combined with other supporting investments in community/household abilities to develop, manage and protect forest land effectively.
- 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.
- Conservation and protection of natural forests should be prioritised in land use planning processes, applying strategic environmental assessment in land use and sectoral planning, and ensuring that decision-support tools for REDD+ incorporate biodiversity and ecosystem service values.
- Green financial mechanisms should include clear environmental safeguards such as criteria and procedures for screening proposed investments, conducting due diligence checks and monitoring;
- Inventories should be conducted on the baseline status of forests to be allocated, as well as studies to understand tenure arrangements, poverty, forest dependency/use and vulnerability. Participatory mapping and consultations on forest land allocation and co-management options should be carried out, including where possible promoting allocation to community groups.
- Access to credit and other livelihood support should be improved, such as on/off farm livelihood improvements allowing households to invest more resources in natural forest protection and restoration.
- Sustainable models identified for agriculture and aquaculture should integrate practices that minimise the use of agro-chemicals and water.
- Non-timber forest product business models and associated practices should promote natural forest protection and enhancement; screening procedures should be developed in order to eliminate inappropriate investments.
- Practical guidelines for afforestation/reforestation and plantation management at site-level should be developed, including site/species selection, plantation design, pest control, fire prevention, etc.
- Sustainable forest management practices and certification for plantations should be promoted through access improvement to advisory services.
- Detailed studies and consideration of impacts on biodiversity and the wider ecosystem from interventions which affect water levels as well as impacts resulting from construction activities should be conducted and included in Melaleuca sites management plans.
The national guidelines for the development of Provincial REDD+ Action Plans also provide direction on environmental and social benefit and risk assessment of the REDD+ policies and measures set out in these plans. Assessments of environmental and social benefits and risks of REDD+ policies and measures in specific sub-national locations have also been carried out through the Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) during the development of the FCPF Emission Reductions Program (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 Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is the focal point ministry for the development and implementation of the National REDD+ Programme. Provincial Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development are responsible for the development of Provincial REDD+ Action Plans for appraisal and approval by the Provincial People’s Committees.
The ER Program in the North-Central Coast Region of Viet Nam has identified a number of potential and priority non-carbon benefits in three broad categories: socio-economic, environmental and governance. The priority non-carbon benefits for the ER Program are as follows:
- Maintaining Sustainable Livelihoods, Culture and Community
- Valuing Forest Resources
- Income Generation and Employment
- Promotion of Climate-Smart Agriculture
- Conservation and Protection of Biodiversity
- Protection and Maintenance of Ecosystems Services
- Strengthening of Village Level Socially Inclusive Governance
- Forest Governance and Management
- Improved Land Tenure Regime
- Participatory Land Use Planning
 NRAP 2017, Decision No 419/QD-TTg dated 5/4/2017. Annex: Policies and Measures for REDD+ implementation for period of 2017 – 2020
 MARD Decision No. 5414/2015/QD-BNN-TCLN on the approval of guidelines for the development of Provincial REDD+ Action Plans.
 Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Carbon Fund. Emission Reductions Program Document (ER-PD). Date of Submission: 5 January 2018
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