Towards a policy framework for pro-poor payment for environmental services in Vietnam

  • Pham Thu Thuy

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    Payment for Environmental Services (PES) is a relatively new concept in Vietnam. The government has recognised its potential to help the rural poor emerge from poverty. This research analyses the feasibility of and challenges to pro-poor PES in Vietnam and provides recommendations for improvement. Data were collected and analysed using participatory and group techniques, qualitative data analysis and case study approaches. Overall, this thesis reveals that organisational barriers (lack of coordination amongst stakeholders, benefit allocation, high transaction costs, top-down planning and control); institutional barriers (lack of specific regulations, inadequate involvement of the poor in PES implementation, low levels of payment, insecure land tenure); and lack of knowledge and capacity among public servants, impede implementation of pro-poor PES in Vietnam.

    Complex project administration, conflicts among actors and a limited number of buyers of environmental services (ES) affect pro-poor PES outcomes at a local level. Donors currently play a large role in supporting PES schemes. Prices for ES would not be financially viable had transaction costs not been covered by donors. Availability of income and technical assistance to poor households is only possible through donors wanting to fund pro-poor PES projects.

    Participation by poor households is limited due to political factors, contracts being driven by buyers, and the limited capacity of households to negotiate and manage PES schemes. At most studied sites, intermediaries were instrumental in negotiating PES. However, the work of intermediaries was rarely flawless as self interest could override impartiality resulting in less than optimal PES outcomes.

    For pro-poor PES to succeed in alleviating poverty in Vietnam, a number of key elements need to be factored into the development and administration of pro-poor PES programs. Programs need to be: participatory so that all players are given fair and ample opportunity to partake in the program (particularly the least well-resourced and most economically disenfranchised); transparent so that all players can be made aware of the way in which the program is administered, including distribution of benefits; well-monitored to ensure that the program is conducted in a manner that meets the program's overarching objectives and guidelines.
    Date of AwardMar 2011
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBruce Campbell (Supervisor) & Stephen Garnett (Supervisor)

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