As part of its long-term goal of promoting public participation in environmental protection in Vietnam, IUCN is working with the Vietnamese Institute of Human Rights (VIHR) to develop and deliver a training manual on the links between the environment and human rights. VIHR is part of the Hanoi-based Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration, which trains 400 full-time and over 2,000 part-time senior government officials every year and 500-600 students for MS and PhD degrees. Working with VIHR is therefore an opportunity to influence the attitudes and behavior of tomorrow’s government leaders toward the inclusion of civil society in environmental protection and monitoring.
As part of this cooperative effort, IUCN introduced VIHR staff to local NGOs working on the environment, including Pan Nature, CODE, WARECOD, ENV, and CECR. IUCN has also supported these NGOs to prepare case studies of their work. These discussions and case studies have been used as input to VIHR’s new training manual.
At a recent meeting with IUCN, VIHR staff said that learning from NGOs had been a real learning experience. Rather than talk about theory they can now give specific examples of how local NGOs have increased public support for environmental protection and enhanced government performance. For example, ENV (Education for Nature) runs volunteer groups across the country that report on illegal wildlife trade (http://www.envietnam....). This information is captured in a database and reported to the relevant authorities for follow up action. ENV then checks to make sure that appropriate action has been taken. And CECR (Center for Environment and Community Research) has built a web site dedicated to monitoring the environmental conditions of Hanoi’s 100 lakes (http://www.cecr.vn).
VIHR also appreciates the growing role of local NGOs in policy research and advocacy, education and communication of environmental protection. As VIHR recognizes, the government needs an effective NGO community to build bridges with the public and help it achieve its environmental objectives. VIHR also observed that local groups face several challenges, including limited coordination between NGOs and an inadequate legal framework.
These insights have been used in a special training module on the role of civil society organizations in environment protection and monitoring. This and the other four training modules will be delivered and assessed at workshops in late August in Hoa Binh and Can Tho.