NGO engagement in revision of law on water resources

31 August 2011 | News story

Approved in 1998, the Law on Water Resources is out of date and needs revising, particularly given growing competition over increasingly scarce water resources. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) is taking the lead on revising the law and a draft version is now available for public consultation.

As a network focusing on rivers and water-related issues, Vietnam River Network (VRN) supports public participation in water resource management. VRN has organized and facilitated a task force of six specialists in water and water-related issues to review and provide written comments on drafts 4 and 5 of the law.

On August 24, 2011, in cooperation with Vietnam Union of Science and Techonology Associations (VUSTA) and with financial support from Mekong Water Dialogues, an IUCN coordinated, Embassy of Finland funded project, VRN organized a workshop with for scientists, NGOs, government officers, and media to present and get feedback on the task force findings. Many ideas and suggestions were raised on both the structure and content of the drafts. These recommendations include:

1. The law should explicitly recognize the vital role that water plays in sustaining human life and healthy ecosystems.

2. The law should adopt an integrated water resources management approach to ensure the efficient and equitable use of water. As part of this, the law should define the roles and responsibilities of river basin committees and ensure their effective operation (river basin committees were established in 2008 but were never implemented in practice).

3. The law should encourage the active participation of local communities, civil society organizations, and other non-state stakeholders in water resources management decision making. Greater public participation will help to ensure the effective use of water. This deserves a separate chapter within the law.

VRN will synthesize the workshop recommendations into a paper and submit to the MONRE drafting committee and other government agencies involved in reviewing the draft law.