The Transitional Legislation Landscape and What it Means for Resilience in Vietnam

Vietnam’s new Law on Planning, which was issued on November 24, 2017 and became effective on January 01, 2019, is an effort to overhaul the bulky and inefficient planning system in Vietnam. The principles upheld by this new law, including integrated planning, stakeholder engagement, and regional planning are all highly consistent with resilience thinking. In the most recent UCR-CoP sharing event, organized yesterday in Hanoi, the Law and Planning was a recurring theme. This workshop was organized to provide CoP members with an opportunity to share their experiences and lessons from the implementation of the urban resilience initiatives; and to discuss Regional Coordination for climate resilient planning and investment in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam in the context of the new Planning Law.


Overview of the workshop. Photo: ISET

There were three presentations delivered at the workshop:

  1. Challenges of implementing and sustaining urban resilience initiatives – Presentation by Dr. Vu Canh Toan (ISET-Vietnam)

According to Dr. Toan’s presentation, despite the fact that resilience thinking and resilience actions are no longer so unfamiliar in Vietnam, it has not become much less challenging to carry out and sustain the impacts of resilience efforts. A large part of what resilience actions call for is the engagement of a wide range of stakeholders, but the question remains how to engage them in a meaningful way, especially in the case of city/national level staff who have their own everyday work and little incentives (i.e. financial/technical benefits or recognition) to follow through and contribute actively to the efforts.

Another challenge is in promoting an integrated resilience planning process that takes into account the regional context and regional factors. This challenge is due to the lack of a legal framework and mechanism for integrated and regional planning, and the still very strong tendency of government agencies to follow the ‘predict and act’ approach in their work. The lack for a legal framework to promote resilience thinking and actions poses a barrier to sustaining resilience efforts. For this reason, the people who are trained with resilience thinking cannot apply the new knowledge in carrying out their work, and many resilience actions are planned but not implemented.

The new planning law is hoped to offer an opportunity to address the above challenges and help resilience planning and implementation efforts to become more effective and sustainable. However, the implementation of this new law is also facing its own multiple challenges.

After the presentations, the floor was opened for all other participants to share their observations and experience of the current institutional context of Vietnam, and in implementing and sustaining their resilience building efforts. There is still a long way ahead that needs the collaboration and supporting efforts of our community of practice.

  1. Mekong Urban Flood Proofing Program: From result to scale with regional coordination perspective – Presentation by Dr. Tim McGrath (GIZ)

Dr. McGrath’s shared with UCR-CoP participants about various resilience planning and implementation efforts of GIZ in Vietnam, in collaboration with international and Vietnamese partners, including the Mekong Urban Flood Resilience Programme, the Assessment of Regional Coordination, and support to regional coordination in the Mekong Delta. Under the Mekong Urban Flood Resilience Programme, GIZ has worked with the Ministry of Construction (MOC) to support the drafting of the new Law on Urban Development and Management, which resulted in the inclusion of a chapter on urban resilient, green and smart cities in this upcoming law, support the drafting of a national Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) guideline, revisions to building codes, standards and cost norms to include climate change that reduce the impact of floods and save lives.


Dr. Tim McGrath presenting at the workshop. Photo: ISET

GIZ also worked with the Committee for Science, Technology and Environment of the National Assembly, the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment (MONRE), the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Office of the Government (OoG), and the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) to support various efforts of policy assessment and drafting of by-law documents to support climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and regional coordination. This program also include provincial level components, under which GIZ has provided active support to various provinces in Central Vietnam and the Mekong Delta to promote better flood modelling and integrated urban planning, and manage disaster risks.

GIZ and SECO have worked together in an effort to assess regional coordination in Vietnam, with a recent assessment workshop organized in Phu Quoc island district of Kien Giang Province. The assessment is aimed at consensus building on the best way for regional coordination. After this workshop, a report was prepared based on consultation with MPI, MoF, National Assembly, MoC, Water Front, Office of the Government, Secretary of Province Party‘s Committee, PPCs, relevant departments of Tra Vinh, Soc Trang, An Giang, Kien Giang, Bac Lieu, Ben Tre, Dong Thap, Hau Giang, Vinh Long, Long An, Tien Giang and Ca Mau. The report was shared to all UCR-CoP participants. GIZ is also carrying out various other efforts to support regional coordination in the Mekong Delta.

The workshop participants had some exciting discussions about how to overcome the existing challenges in stakeholder engagement and regional coordination in resilience planning and interventions, and implications of the new Law on Planning in this whole process.

  1. Regional Coordination for climate resilience in the Mekong Delta: Challenges and Options – Discussion led by Dr. Phong Tran (SECO)

Dr. Phong started the session by introducing SECO’s strategy for integrated development in urban areas, especially in the MD area in Can Tho, and emphasized the importance of regional coordination in developing urban resilience in this region for optimizing investments in the region’s provinces, in managing the shared water resources, and promoting socio-economic development.


Dr. Phong Tran giving an introduction for the discussion session. Photo: ISET

According to Dr. Phong, there have been a number of decisions by the national Government and various implementation plan, as well as efforts to create sub-regional coordination mechanisms in this region, but in reality, these efforts mostly focus on the least challenging first steps of communication, notification and data sharing. The assessment of regional coordination pointed out that current regional and sub-regional coordination mechanisms lack essential legislation; the existing infrastructure and socio-economic development plans focus only on specific needs of a province but not a region as a whole; the political will at national level is not strong enough to ‘champion’ regional coordination; the implementation of Decision 593 (on the mechanism for piloting socio-economic collaboration in the Mekong Delta period 2016 – 2020) and Resolution 120 (on sustainable development of the Mekong Delta) has a very slow progress; and regional coordination projects supported by development partners are not sustainable. The new Planning Law and the establishment of the Mekong Delta Master Plan offer an opportunity to improve regional coordination in the Mekong Delta, but we need to break from the conventional ways of thinking and doing to falling back on old tracks.

The questions remains how to avoid wasting resources in building capacity and developing strategies and action plans that are not fully utilized. The participants were then requested to share their thoughts on how to take advantage of the new legal reform to best support regional coordination in the Vietnamese context, their areas of experience to share to support regional coordination, and other suggestions about the organization structure and mechanism, financing, and tools and methods for regional coordination.

The participants shared their insights of how the new Planning Law will have an effect on the institutional context in Vietnam, including influence on many other laws (about 70, both existing and upcoming ones), including Budget Law and Public Investment Law, Local Government Organization Law, and Urban Development and Management Law. It is clear from the discussion that the transition between application of the old and new Planning Law is expected to be a long and complicated process.


UCR-CoP participant asking question. Photo: ISET

At the end of the workshop, all participants were given opportunity to share their plans of activities for the coming periods, and any opportunity to collaborate with the other CoP members. GIZ, TAF, UN-HABITAT, SECO, ISET, Spatial Decisions, AFD, UDA, and other individual participants all took this opportunity to share about their exciting work plans with the workshop.

All CoP participants will receive the detailed notes of the workshop together with a copy of the presentations. Please subscribe to the URC-CoP mailing list or email us with the request to avoid missing out information about our upcoming events.

Tho Nguyen, ISET-Vietnam


This entry was posted in Climate Change, English / Tiếng Anh, flood management, urban planning, Urban resilience and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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