Challenges to institutionalizing strategic environmental assessment: The case of Vietnam

Peer Reviewed
1 January 2014

Building on new institutional theory, this paper develops an analytical framework for analyzing constraints to the institutionalization of strategic environmental assessment (SEA) at four different institutional levels.

The framework is tested in an empirical analysis of the environmental assessment system in Vietnam, which is a front runner among developing countries regarding the introduction and use of SEA. Building on interviews with Vietnamese and international experts, as well as an extensive literature review, we identify institutional constraints which challenge the effective use of SEA in Vietnam.

We conclude that commonly identified constraints, such as inadequate training, technical guidelines, baseline data and financial resources, are strongly linked to constraints at higher institutional levels, such as incentives to not share information between ministries and severe restrictions on access to information and public participation. Without a thorough understanding of these institutional constraints, there is a risk that attempts to improve the use of SEA are misdirected. Thus, a careful institutional analysis should guide efforts to introduce and improve the use of SEA in Vietnam and other developing countries. The analytical framework for analyzing constraints to institutionalization of SEA presented in this paper represents a systematic effort in this direction.


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Publication | 29 September 2014