Viet Nam is preparing to enter Mangroves for the Future (MFF) – an IUCN initiative to promote investment in coastal ecosystems – and at a June 10 meeting, national coastal area experts and decision makers began planning a structure for the program here.
MFF was created as a joint effort between IUCN and UNDP in response to lessons learned from aid disbursement to countries affected by the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. It was determined that the aid at times went beyond countries’ absorption capacity and that disaster response alone could not solve long-standing threats to coastal ecosystems.
MFF represents a long-term, strategic plan to invest more effectively in environmental and human resources in coastal zones. It was first launched in the countries struck hardest by the tsunami: India, Indonesia, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
During its 2007-2009 Phase I, MFF was expanded to six dialogue countries, including Viet Nam. Of those nations, Viet Nam will be the first to transition to full member status. It is preparing to do so by the opening of Phase II in 2010.
“Viet Nam is not in the Indian Ocean, but is a very deserving country because of its prominent coastline and extreme weather,” said Don Macintosh, MFF coordinator. “As a member, it can not only to benefit from MFF, but also contribute knowledge for coping with typhoons, as many of its programs are international models.”
Over the next several months, stakeholders in Viet Nam will develop a national strategy that defines the priority topics and regions on which MFF will focus in-country. From those priorities, the composition of a National Coordinating Body (NCB) will be determined.
The NCB will include government, NGO and academic representatives and will call for and review proposals to ensure transparency and accountability in the process of funding projects that advance the national strategy.
“The challenge is to integrate MFF into Viet Nam’s existing legal systems,” said Nguyen Hoang Tri, director of the Center for Environmental Research and Education (CERE), Hanoi National University of Education. “One way to do that is to have MFF provide technical expertise as the government develops policy. The NCB could then help co-fund projects that already have national interest.”
Participants preliminarily agreed that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) would co-chair the NCB in Viet Nam. The Viet Nam Administration for Sea and Islands (VASI) would serve was the committee focal point on behalf of MONRE, and IUCN would function as the national secretariat.
It also was noted that it will be the NCB’s responsibility to stress that, though MFF uses mangroves as a flagship ecosystem in recognition of their storm mitigation function, the initiative seeks to support projects on all coastal ecology.
Meeting participants will produce a draft strategy in time for a regional MFF meeting in November.