In the current situation, the Vietnamese development planning system consists of three main pillars: (i) socio-economic development planning; (ii) development planning for sectors, field and products; (iii) spatial planning under the Construction Law and Urban Planning Law, and (iv) natural resources planning. These planning systems are managed and implemented at three levels: national, provincial and district.
In general, the sector master plans follow SEDP targets. At present, there are about 20 sector master plans prepared by various line ministries related to the socio-economic developments in Mekong Delta which provide the orientations for sectoral developments in short, medium and long run.
The limited interdisciplinary interaction and participation of the public and stakeholders has resulted in many conflicts of interest among stakeholders along several dualities: upstream vs downstream, rural vs urban, delta-wide vs national vs local, and longterm vs short-term. In a review by MPI key generic shortcomings and weaknesses of the current planning system identified are that many plans have been made but they are of low quality, contain inconsistencies and overlap, and they are often not in line with the envisioned market economy, thus leading to a lack of feasibility and inefficient use of national resources. In addition, the linkages between planning and programmes are weak, leading to ineffective phasing of prioritized investment projects. There is an urgent need for a transformation towards a cross-sectoral spatial planning approach for core policy streams and related infrastructure development, to enable inclusive and environmentally sustainable economic growth. A critical challenge lies in the coordinated identification, screening and selection of interventions.
Pilot on Regional Coordination for investment projects.
Through Prime Minister Decision 593/QD-TTg, the Ministry of Planning and Investment is tasked to formulate and promulgate a “set of criteria for identifying linkage projects and programs” with the purpose to “maximize the potentials and strengths of the provinces and the [Mekong Delta] Region”. Regional linkage projects are explained as “projects … that are located either in at least two provinces, or in one province only but with impact on at least one further province in the [Mekong Delta] region”. The piloting areas for regional linkage projects are defined as: 1) production, processing and consumption of agricultural products with particular reference to the value chain; 2) investments in developing and upgrading the water management systems for irrigation, flood prevention and salt water intrusion control for agricultural production; developing and improving the sea dyke, ring dyke and mangrove belt systems and projects for environmental protection and adaptation to climate change; and 3) developing and upgrading infrastructure in respect of waterways, roads, aviation and ports.”
New Law on Planning.
In October 2017, the National Assembly has approved a new Law on Planning which establishes a new system of national plans, regional plans, provincial plans and urban and rural plans, and sets down a number of planning principles.
The new law also requires the participation of stakeholders, effective use of resources, and unified state management of planning activities. Under the new law, a planning period would last 10 years, coinciding with the period of the corresponding socio-economic development strategy, with a vision of 20-50 years. Master plans would be reviewed once every five years and adjusted to suit practical conditions. The new Law on Planning introduces four key changes: i) It abolishes master plans for specific industries and products; ii) It attempts to ensure consistency in the legal system governing planning activities; iii) It lays a legal foundation for unified direction and management of planning activities; and iv) It changes the planning methodology, following an integrated and multi-sectoral approach, which is expected to help effectively address cross-sectoral, interregional and interprovincial issues.
For the proposed regional plans, the new Law on Planning focuses on introducing an integrated, holistic, multisectoral and interprovincial (spatial) planning approach, to improve coherence between socio-economic development, environmental protection and climate change adaptation.
MPI has obtained approval from the government to develop an integrated spatial plan (for 2021-2030) for the delta with the objective to create a comprehensive strategic framework for the entire region, which lays the foundation for the implementation of the investment programs and projects for the development of technical and social infrastructures and for production in a synchonized manner while effectively using the resources to realize the potential of the region in the context of climate change to promote sustainable socio-economic development of the region.
Climate change policy response.
The climate change related policy response has been developed rapidly since 2008 with the National Target Program to Respond to Climate Change (NTP-RCC: Decision 158/2008/QĐ-TTg, 2008; and 1183/QĐ-TTg, 2012 for the period 2012–2015), followed by the National Climate Change Strategy (NCCS: Decision 2139/QĐ-TTg, 2011) and the Vietnam Green Growth Strategy (VGGS: Decision 1393/QĐ-TTg, 2012). These strategies form the overarching policy frame and have been prioritized and made concrete in the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and the Green Growth Action Plan (GGAP), both for the period up to 2020, whereas sector and provincial CC-response and green growth action plans have either been completed or will be formulated.
Some line-ministries have also started to develop new sectoral strategies or integrate them into their masterplan strategies. However, the principles for integrated land and water use embedded in sectoral policies are not applied in practice.