Marine spatial planning for sustainable oceans in Viet Nam

January 6, 2023
Photo: Upsplash/Arvydas Arnasius

Quang Binh, January 5-6, 2023 – The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) in collaboration with the People's Committee of Quang Binh province, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Norwegian Embassy in Ha Noi, organized a workshop entitled "Master Plan on Sustainable Exploitation and Use of Coastal Resources from 2021 to 2030, with a Vision to 2045" (hereinafter referred to as ‘coastal planning’ for short).

Attending the workshop were representatives of ministries and branches of the central government, provinces, and coastal cities from Quang Ninh to Phu Yen, as well as international organizations, experts, and representatives from several units under MONRE and the Department of Seas and Islands of Viet Nam.

Viet Nam has more than 3,260 kilometers of coastline providing great natural capital for economic growth. It has significant potential for onshore and offshore wind energy production which, if developed sustainably, will support energy security and help Viet Nam to meet its carbon neutrality targets by 2050. To fulfill this enormous potential, I n2018 Viet Nam adopted Resolution No. 36/NQ-TW on the strategy for sustainable marine economic growth in Viet Nam to 2030 with a vision to 2045, an essential solution for which is developing a national marine spatial plan and a master plan for the sustainable exploitation and use of coastal resources.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Deputy Minister of MONRE Mr. Le Minh Ngan said, "As a coastal country with a long coastline and many islands that is facing the challenges of environmental pollution, declining marine resources, and the impact of climate change, Viet Nam has actively developed and implemented policies and laws on managing its seas and islands and enhancing international cooperation over the past few years.

“This master plan on sustainable exploitation and use of coastal resources for 2021–2030 with a vision to 2045 is difficult, complex, and multi-sectoral, and was prepared for the first time in Viet Nam using the spatial synthesis method."

Deputy Minister Ngan also expressed the hope that "through the workshop’s active exchanges and discussions, participants will clarify the contents of the plan, the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, and the solutions that can attract and strongly promote the implementation of the plan in practice, as well as its future management and supervision."

According to the Resolution, the scope of the Coastal Zone Plan includes the coastal waters and land as follows: (i) coastal waters have an inner boundary of the lowest average sea level over 18.6 years and an outer boundary that is six nautical miles from the lowest average sea level over many years, as determined and published by MONRE; and (ii) coastal land includes communes, wards, and townships in the 28 provinces and the centrally run cities by the sea.

The objective of the master plan is to sustainably develop coastal zones by enhancing the efficiency of resource management, exploitation, and utilization within an integrated management framework while proactively adapting to climate change and sea level rise. It also aims to enhance the lifestyles and living conditions of coastal communities in conjunction with the conservation and development of natural, ecological, and cultural resources, maintain social order, and guarantee national defense and security.

In terms of the economy, the master plan intends to maximize benefits and minimize conflicts in the exploitation and use of coastal resources; rationally, thriftily, and efficiently allocate natural resources in coastal zones to sectors, fields, and coastal localities in socio-economic development; create many livelihoods; and improve living standards for coastal communities. Successfully developing and breaking through coastal economic sectors in the direction of modernity, applying digital technology and advanced techniques, and being environmentally friendly will contribute to economic growth of over 7.5% per year in the 28 coastal provinces and cities, with the aim of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Regarding social culture, the plan’s objective is to maintain and preserve the integrity of tangible and intangible cultural heritage and conserve and promote the cultural values and identities of each ethnic group in coastal regions. It also aims to advance social justice, safeguarding the right of coastal people to access the sea and enjoy essential services and social welfare, as well as to strengthen their active and responsible participation in the protection of natural resources, the environment, and cultural and historical assets in coastal areas.

Regarding the environment, the plan aims to effectively manage and protect existing ecosystems in coastal areas and restore and increase the scope of protected areas on coastal lands and waters in order to achieve the goal of at least six percent of the area being coastal and marine protected areas. Included are the following objectives: effective management of pollution sources from the mainland and plastic pollution in coastal areas contributing to a 75 percent reduction in marine plastic waste; 100 percent of marine protected areas will no longer have plastic waste within coastal zones; 100 percent of hazardous waste, daily-life solid waste, and plastic waste in coastal areas will be collected and treated up to environmental standards; and 100 percent of economic zones, industrial parks, and urban districts in coastal regions will have centralized wastewater treatment systems that comply with environmental rules.

In her opening remarks at the workshop, Deputy Head of Mission of the Norwegian Embassy in Hanoi Mrs. Mette Moglestue said, “Norway is among the first countries to develop management plans for our coastal and ocean areas. These have been developed and refined over the years – learning from mistakes along the way. Norwegian ocean areas are now considered to be among the best managed in the world – and with a very high level of value creation: 70 percent of Norway’s export earnings come from the ocean.

“Norway’s experience with the integrated marine management approach shows that it is possible to simultaneously develop a prosperous ocean-based economy and to keep our oceans clean and healthy. Good marine spatial planning is key to this. Therefore, Norway is happy to co-organize this workshop with UNDP and Vietnamese counterparts and to share our experience and expertise in this regard,” Mrs. Moglestue added.

In his remarks, Mr. Patrick Haverman, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Viet Nam, stated: “Sustainable management of coastal and marine areas is a crucial tool for Viet Nam's development of a blue sea economy, promotion of the growth of new sectors to enhance income, and creation of new jobs. Particularly, coastal planning and open marine spatial planning have the chance to capitalize on the vast potential of marine wind energy as an essential renewable energy source for achieving Viet Nam's climate objectives. Coastal planning will also help ensure optimal and coordinated development between sectors in the exploitation and use of Viet Nam's coastal resources, conservation of nature and biodiversity, preservation of cultural and historical values, and improvement of climate resilience.”

A representative of the Viet Nam Department of Seas and Islands presented the content of the Master Plan during the workshop. The plan was developed based on integrating relevant national sectoral master plans within coastal zones, with adjustments and management of overlapping areas in terms of coastal space use in order to ensure harmony in the exploitation and use of natural resources, environmental protection, and sustainable development of coastal regions.

For more information, please kindly contact:
Phan Huong Giang
UNDP Media and Communications Analyst, Climate change and Environment
Mob: 0948466688

Nguyen Thi Kim Thanh
Information and Communication Adviser, Norwegian Embassy in Ha Noi
Mobile: 0904637298