Achieving more effective governance in multi-jurisdictional marine protected areas in Vietnam

Ho, Van Trung Thu (2011) Achieving more effective governance in multi-jurisdictional marine protected areas in Vietnam. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been developed as a tool for conservation and natural resource management. A number of tangible and intangible benefits of MPAs, across spatial, temporal and social boundaries, have been identified by a diverse body of research in the natural and social sciences. Important international conventions have called for the establishment of MPAs, but the scale and speed of MPA establishment, as well as their governance and management effectiveness, are of concern to stakeholders around the world. In Vietnam, a national network of fifteen MPAs has been proposed and approved to be completely established by 2020. However, a significant number of existing MPAs have been reported as not effectively established, governed and managed. Institutions and their governance are seen as potential targets to improve the effectiveness of MPAs. In addition, there are problems relating to the multilevel jurisdictional nature of marine protected areas in Vietnam. This thesis aimed to develop an understanding of how multilevel institutional development, social interactions and contextual causes have affected establishment, governance and management of MPAs and to identify reforms that would produce more effective governance and management in multi-jurisdictional MPAs in Vietnam. Three marine areas in Vietnam at Con Dao, Nha Trang Bay and Halong Bay were selected as major study sites for this research. They were selected as representatives of three regions of Vietnam based on their specific geographic, socio-economic and cultural characteristics. These sites have multi-stakeholder conflicts and multi-jurisdictional issues. Two additional MPAs – Culaocham and Phu Quoc, in other regions were also examined by the researcher to enrich data for generalization of research results. This research combines critical ethnography with case study research. A multilevel analytical framework was developed based on theories and concepts relating to institutional analysis, effective governance, organizational structures, social learning and common-pool resource management. This framework was used to guide the collection, analysis and interpretation of data. A number of methods (e.g. document reviews, focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews and participant observation) were used to collect data across local communities, provincial structures and national levels. Three data categories relating to (i) formal institutions, (ii) interagency collaborative governance and (iii) contextual conditions and informal institutions, were classified for data analysis. Data interpretation was undertaken by combining the conceptual framework, contextual conditions, observation of the environmental values,culture, belief and behaviour of MPA actors, and critical reflection by the researcher. Triangulation strategies (e.g. through data sources, methods, investigators), critical reflexivity and peer debriefings enhanced the rigour of the research. Three main groupings of variables were identified as being important barriers to the development of effective governance and management of MPAs in Vietnam. The first group illustrated the complexity and dynamics of formal institutions as key restraining forces on effective governance and management of MPAs. These were (i) implicit and inconsistent MPA-related policies and strategies across institutional levels, (ii) overlaps in allocation of responsibility among agencies responsible for governance of marine protected areas and related sectoral strategies and policies, (iii) unstable organizational structures responsible for marine protected area governance, (iv) MPAs established based on insufficient information and for external interests, (v) incongruence between rules-on-paper and rules-in-use, and (vi) insufficient staffing and capacity building programs relating to MPA management.

The second group included perceived barriers to interagency collaboration through poor inter-individual collaboration. These were (i) differences in personal strategies and perceptions of staff from different agencies, (ii) weak inter-personal relationships, and (iii) inadequate personal characteristics and leadership approaches. The inter-organizational collaboration was also impeded by (i) difference in agency management type, (ii) power conflicts, and (iii) lack of incentive sharing mechanisms. A set of causal variables relating to socioeconomics and informal institutions that affected the participation of local communities was the third and final group. These consisted of (i) low awareness of local communities about MPA objectives, goals and approaches (ii) economic difficulties, low financial support and lack of a benefit sharing mechanism and (iii) weak social capital because of diverse origins among local people, the influence of family relationships and diminished traditional culture, norms and taboos. This research also revealed three additional variables that influence the relationships between state and non-state actors in the conduct of social activities and interactions occurring within the governance and management of MPAs. These were a lack of (i) mutual trust, (ii) interactive communication and (iii) reciprocity. It is concluded that the existing institutions and political organizational structure in Vietnam has made MPAs and the national MPA network unique and isolated from the government management system and civil society. This research demonstrates that institutions formed inconsistently and implicitly over various levels and sectors of the government have contributed to ineffective governance and management practices. In addition, strong political will on the part of state actors is essential for effective governance and management of MPAs, as is mutual trust, regular interactive communication and reciprocity between and within state and non-state actors. Some specific recommendations from this research include, among others, a suggestion to undertake adaptive co-management to improve the effectiveness of governance and management of MPAs in Vietnam.

Item ID: 29296
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Vietnam; Con Dao; Nha Trang Bay; Halong Bay; marine protected areas; MPAs; environmental governance; institutions; natural resource management
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2013 02:19
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 40%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 40%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050299 Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960605 Institutional Arrangements for Environmental Protection @ 34%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 33%
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