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The role of public involvement in environmental impact assessment in Vietnam: towards a more culturally sensitive approach


  • Charles Hostovsky
  • Virginia MacLaren
  • Geoffrey McGrath


This paper explores the extent to which Western approaches to public involvement in environmental impact assessment (EIA) have been transferred to Vietnam, constraints on their use, and their appropriateness for the Vietnamese context. The research is based on an analysis of the public involvement content found in 26 EIA reports from development banks and interviews with 26 key informants. The study found that public involvement in Vietnam is generally technocratic, expert-driven and non-transparent, similar to the early days of EIA in the West and emerging economies. Public involvement usually occurs through authorised state channels such as commune leaders, mass organisations and professional organisations. The lack of a participatory culture for EIA, the nascent nature of grassroots democracy in the country, and Vietnamese cultural norms regarding respect for authority provide a challenging context for involving the public in EIA. The paper concludes by offering a number of suggestions for culturally appropriate public involvement at a time when Vietnam has just introduced mandatory public consultation for EIAs.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Hostovsky & Virginia MacLaren & Geoffrey McGrath, 2010. "The role of public involvement in environmental impact assessment in Vietnam: towards a more culturally sensitive approach," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(3), pages 405-425.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jenpmg:v:53:y:2010:i:3:p:405-425
    DOI: 10.1080/09640561003613187

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