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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)

Research and capacity building on REDD+, livelihoods, and vulnerability in Vietnam: developing tools for social analysis of development planning  

PI: Le Thi Van Hue, Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (CRES), Vietnam National University
Co-PIs: Nguyen Viet Dung, PanNature--Center for People and Nature Reconciliation; and Tran Huu Nghi, Tropenbos International (TBI) Vietnam
U.S. Partner:  Pamela McElwee, Rutgers University
Project Dates: June 2012 - September 2015

Project Overview

Viet Nam Partner Photo
Dr. Pamela McElwee (second from left), Dr. Le Thi Van Hue (center) and colleagues discuss plans for their joint project (photo courtesy of Dr. Le Thi Van Hue).
Forecasted global climate changes have the potential to exacerbate existing social vulnerabilities, especially in poorer developing countries, and communities’ and individuals’ ability to cope with these future changes are often conditioned on their ability to access and mobilize natural resources. At the same time, new global policies are in development that would pay countries for “avoided deforestation” through forest conservation efforts known as Reduced Emissions from Degradation and Deforestation (REDD+) in order to sequester carbon and contribute to climate change mitigation. However, as access and use rights to forests change under REDD implementation, this may render some households and communities more vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the long term if REDD policies reduce their adaptive capacity by restricting access to natural resources. Thus, an understanding of the potential outcomes of carbon-credit policies on land use decision-making is necessary before such large scale global programs get more fully underway.
This study will build upon an early REDD development site in Vietnam and explore several questions regarding this new policy. The overall goal of the existing project underway is to understand the ways in which payments for ecosystem services (like carbon) serve to alter land-use decision making by smallholder households in forested areas and evaluate if these land-use decisions increase or reduce overall social and biophysical vulnerability to forecasted climate changes. This current PEER-supported project aims to expand the existing project into new field sites and add additional data collection on environmental conditions. Methodologies and data from the pilot research sites will be shared with an in-country network of stakeholders, and a country-wide index of indicators for REDD will be created to assess at the provincial level in Vietnam the likelihood of meeting conditions of success in REDD. To promote capacity building with local policymakers and NGOs on key REDD issues, short training courses and national workshops will also be organized. This study should contribute to policy-relevant knowledge on social vulnerability to climate change in a country that is likely among the most seriously affected. It also has the potential to influence development of REDD policy, as it may provide a baseline to explain variations in the expected performance of various possible REDD approaches.
Summary of Recent Activities
The team made significant progress towards accomplishing project objectives during the fall of 2014. The three co-PIs held Skype meetings with Pam McElwee to finalize the design of the soon to be live project website and its subpages for each institution as well as discuss the work plan for the third and the final year.

In terms of physical accomplishments, CRES organized a revisit to Son La province in November. The team conducted focus group discussions with the poor group, women group, and forest management group in each community. Interviews with key informants were also conducted. PanNature completed the RESI data entry template, which covers four key areas: (i) Legal Framework supports for REDD+; (ii) Institutional setting for managing and protecting forests at sub-national level; (iii) Environmental status at sub-national level; and (iv) the socio-economic status at sub-national level. Indicators were scored on a scale of 0 to 100, reflecting the readiness status of each province for implementing REDD+. The RESI template is established based on the conceptual framework that will be used in the RESI manual. PanNature has started the RESI data entry in the RESI data entry template and data analysis. Lastly, TBI gathered comments for the RLVL database design, revisited Kien Giang province to gather additional information for RESI index development, and designed training plans and materials on REDD/PES and livelihoods together with the Bi Doup Nui Ba National Park for commune staff and national park technicians.

In the coming months, CRES will complete the design of teaching modules for the short course and prepare the logistics for the course planned for the third week of March 2015 which will lead into all three organizations working to organize the national workshop. PN will complete RESI data analysis for Kon Tum, Lam Dong, Dien Bien, Kien Giang and Son La and develop RESI training module/materials for the short course that will be organized by CRES. TBI will conduct the training course on REDD+ and Livelihood at Bidoup Nui Ba National Park and share the information with other groups and conduct a workshop to present database development methodology. Finally, CRES, PanNature and TBI will develop policy briefs and prepare for articles to be published on international journals.