Biodiversity and Development of the Hydropower Sector: Lessons from the Vietnamese experience:
The use of Strategic Environmental Assessment as an assessment tool:
Hydropower development is proceeding rapidly in Vietnam. The maintenance of ecosystem integrity, including the effects of multiple hydropower schemes within a river basin has been identified by governments of the region and their international partners as a key strategic concern for hydropower development in Vietnam and elsewhere in the Mekong Basin. There is a need for capacity development, research and information sharing on two fronts: first, in relation to the potential effects of hydropower development on biodiversity and second, in relation to the tools and methods available to integrate consideration of biodiversity issues into hydropower planning and development.
ICEM has produced a set of materials on the biodiversity and development of hydropower in Vietnam that aims to assist this capacity development and information sharing, sponsored by a grant from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). These materials form a five-part series of which this document is the fourth.
Vietnam is strongly committed to the use of Strategic Environmental Assessment in shaping development plans. With special legislative provision for SEAs under the Law on Environment Protection and their increasing application to socio-economic and land use plans at national and local level the tool is gradually beginning to have strategic influence. Yet, experience in Vietnam has shown that SEA teams are having difficulty in integrating biodiversity concerns into the assessments. Major development plans are still going forward with decision-makers and planners unaware of far reaching consequences for ecological sustainability.
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