IUCN and the Vietnam Institute of Human Rights (VIHR) organized a workshop on August 23-24, 2011 in Hoa Binh to get feedback on a training manual entitled Human Rights-based Approaches to Environmental Protection. A similar workshop was held on August 29-30 in Can Tho. Both workshops were funded by IUCN’s UNDEF-funded project Promoting Active Participation of Civil Society in Environment Governance.
The Hoa Binh workshop was opened by Dr. Nguyen Duc Thuy, VIHR Director. Click HERE for Dr. Thuy’s presentation in Vietnamese. IUCN’s Jake Brunner and UNDP’s Vaclav Prusa gave introductory comments. Participants included staff from VIHR and other institutes of the Hochiminh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration, provincial government officials, and Environmental Police. Based on their feedback, VIHR will revise and finalize the training manual by the end of 2011. VIHR will then deliver this training to 500-750 high level government officials who graduate from the Political Academy every year.
The training manual has five modules of which number 4 on the role of civil society organizations in environmental protection attracted particular attention. This module includes several case studies of how local NGOs have influenced government policy and practice in Vietnam. In September 11, Dr. Nguyen Hoang Nghia - module 4's author - has published the main findings and recommendations of this module in Legislation Studies, a magazine published by the Political Academy. Click HERE for a copy of the article (in Vietnamese). However, despite the growing interest in the role of local NGOs, one of the participants pointed out that none of the documents discussed at the recent party congress mentioned civil society. Indeed, one of the findings of this project is the lack of awareness among government officials of the vital roles that environmental NGOs are playing in Vietnam and internationally. It will take time and a lot more effort to change such deep-rooted attitudes.