Analysing the outcomes of forest policies in northern Vietnam: the role of policy design. Draft paper uri icon


  • Recent large-scale afforestation programmes in Vietnam have had a mixed success. Official statistics report a forest cover increase, but the programmes' contribution to poverty reduction has been limited and their actual benefits to the environment are questionable. I discuss in this paper to which extent policy design has contributed to these shortcomings. I focused on two state initiatives - a large national afforestation campaign, called the Five Million Hectare Reforestation Programme, and the recent allocation of upland to communities. I combined institutional and discourse analysis to assess how incentives, rules and discourses in the policy-making arena have affected outcomes on the ground. I also examined the role of evidence and the factors that have supported policy change. Findings highlight that policy flaws largely result from the characteristics of the policy-making arena at the central level. Discourses have played a significant role in the way they have shaped problem definition and beliefs. Black boxes have provided a means to neatly accommodate the diverse interests of policy-makers under consensus-based governance. I argue that revising policies might not result in improved outcomes as long as simplistic and biased narratives prevail. I conclude with a set of recommendations to bridge the gap between research and policy

publication date

  • 2009