Ha Long - Cat Ba Alliance



Project title: Ha Long - Cat Ba Alliance

Location: Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Archipelago

Duration: 2014 – 2017

Project background: Designated as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Natural World Heritage Site in 1994, the steep limestone islands rising out of the green waters of Ha Long Bay (HLB), is one of the world’s most highly recognisable landscapes. However, its prominence as an international and domestic tourist destination as well a strategically located industrial and shipping centre, has led to a dramatic increase in development in and around the bay. Coal mining, destructive fisheries, port development and mass tourism are causing water contamination, solid waste accumulation and large-scale damage to both species and ecosystems. Due to the rapid pace and often unplanned nature of this development, local communities are not equipped to deal with the following social and environment pressures.

Concerns over the management of HLB has grown sharply over the last few years and there have been several actions to reclassify HLB as a World Heritage Site in Danger. Legislation and policies on coastal area and island management remain inconsistent and unsynchronised. Although the government has signed conventions and written laws and regulations related to environmental management in HLB, it has not yet invested seriously in enforcing regulations.

To preserve the natural integrity of this globally significant area, IUCN has established the Ha Long-Cat Ba Alliance (HLCBA), a three-year initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that aims to build partnership between the Vietnamese government, businesses and civil society, to catalyse actions in order to improve environmental management and protect the natural integrity of the Ha Long Bay World Heritage Site including the Cat Ba Archipelago.

The initiative led by IUCN and the Centre for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development (MCD), comprises two main components:

  • Business engagement and policy dialogue

    • Aiming to build the political will for action to preserve the area’s outstanding values by establishing a high-level, business-led Alliance Leadership Committee comprised of business leaders, political representatives, relevant government agencies, and the United States Embassy, to set a vision and advise on the Alliance work plan

    • Other aims under this component include increasing public awareness of environmental conditions through media engagement, advancing a certification standard for overnight cruise companies, improving water quality in Ha Long and Cat Ba, and providing technical advice for World Heritage Site reports submitted to UNESCO

  • Local stakeholders engagement

    • Aiming to assist local residents involved in aquaculture to implement good environmental practices, build the evidence base for empowerment of local actors for greater participation in environmental protection, and prepare local NGOs to more deeply engage in environmental issues

Representatives attended the launching ceremony of Ha Long - Cat Ba Alliance

Objectives of the project:

  • Build the political will for action and cooperation by establishing a high-level business-led Ha Long Cat Ba Alliance
  • Increase public awareness of environmental conditions and trends in HLB through media engagement

Expected Outputs:

  • A multi-stakeholder approach towards the improvement of the environmental management
  • An assessment of barriers in installing on-board advanced wastewater treatment systems
  • Identification of specific policy reforms and investments that the province needs to make to support private sector investment in appropriate waste water treatment technology
  • Design of an international standard certification label that will encourage innovation and investment in clean technologies
  • Actions undertaken towards the re-nomination of the World Heritage Site to integrate Cat Ba

Donor: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Partners: The Centre for MarineLife Conservation and Community Development (MCD); Asian Management and Development Institute (AMDI); The Centre for Environment and Community Research (CECR); Green ID; Live & Learn; and PanNature; Center for Supporting Green Development (Greenhub).

Members: Bhaya, Coca-Cola, Grant Thorton, Hospitality Tourism Management, Indochina Junk, Trails of Indochina

HLCBA cobranding

Join the Alliance

One of the key components of the HLCBA is the involvement of the private sector into the Alliance’s programmes and activities. Engaging business is essential to improve the environmental management of the site and protect its natural integrity, using enterprises’ knowledge, experience, and resources. Thus, to foster a multi-stakeholder approach to ensure the achievement of our mission and goals, the Alliance seeks to expand its network by building partnerships with a broad range of organizations and businesses. While some businesses wish to engage into the Alliance for economic reasons, others seek to promote social, environmental and ethical values.

More information on how to Join the Alliance is available via Downloads.


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