Vietnam enacted its first Law on Protection of the Environment in 1993. In line with international trends on greater awareness of environmental issues, a new, more comprehensive law was introduced in 2005. Recent years have seen an even further heightening of environmental consciousness and concern in Vienam.
Generally, Vietnam’s environmental laws require investors to:
i) Take environmental protection measures in the manner set out in their Environmental Impact Assessment Reports or Environmental Protection Undertakings (discussed further below);
ii) Prevent and restrict adverse impacts on the environment from their activities, including appropriate minimisation and management of waste;
iii) Comply with applicable environmental standards (including technical standards on the quality of soil, water, air, noise, light and radiation);
iv) Rectify any environmental pollution created by their activities; and pay environmental taxes and protection charges.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) is the primary authority responsible for environmental matters. Among other tasks MONRE:
i) Evaluates strategic environmental assessment reports;
ii) Issues certificates of satisfaction of environmental standards; and
iii) Supervises, inspects and deals with breaches of the environmental laws. In addition, other ministries and state bodies are entrusted with responsibility for particular aspects of environmental protection and management. In particular, the People’s Committees at all levels organise the evaluation and approval of environmental impact assessment reports while the Natural Resources and Environment Inspectorate supervises activities and inspects manufacturing businesses and services establishments for compliance. Large projects, including most mining projects and industrial zones, require an approved Environmental Impact Assessment Report.
Environmental Impact Assessment Reports (EIARs)
Certain types of projects require preparation of an EIAR. The list of applicable projects includes nationally important (large) projects, telecommunications construction projects, industrial zones, many light and heavy manufacturing facilities, most mining projects and large-scale tourism and entertainment projects.
i) EIARs assess the environmental status of the project site and potential environmental impacts and set out specific measures and undertakings to minimise adverse impacts of the project on the environment and to take appropriate measures to protect the environment. They must also contain any opinions of local authorities and community representatives should there be any objection on environmental grounds to the project or disagreement with the proposed environmental protection measures.
ii) EIARs are prepared concurrently with the feasibility studies for these
iii) Project owners may prepare the EIARs themselves, or hire a qualified consultancy firm to do so.
iv) EIARs are submitted for appraisal to MONRE, relevant ministries or Provincial People’s Committees depending on the type of project, and in particular the level of authority required to approve the project.
v) Where an EIAR is mandatory, the project may only be approved and issued with an Investment Certificate, construction permit or operational permit once the EIAR has been approved.
Environmental protection undertakings (EPUs)
Manufacturing, business and services enterprises which are not required to prepare an EIAR must make written EPUs which are registered with the local District People’s Committee. The undertakings cover location, form and scale of the establishment as well as the energy used and types of waste produced. They must also include an undertaking to minimise and treat waste and comply with environmental laws. A certificate showing registration of the EPUs is required before manufacturing or other business activities may commence.