Target: Dao Van Hung, CEO of Vietnam Electricity
Goal: Save conservation program that fights against illegal logging while stimulating economic development in low-income communities
Vietnam’s national policy of compensating local community members for monitoring forests to help combat against illegal logging faces a serious challenge in funding. Aimed at increasing forest cover to reduce erosion, this ecosystem payment program looks to lift the burden on the state forestry service and ultimately stimulate economic development in poor areas. Unfortunately, Vietnam Electricity (EVN) has refused to renegotiate the long-term electricity buying agreements upon which the program depends.
Following the model of similar programs throughout the world, hydroelectric companies in Vietnam pay a small amount per kilowatt hour into a government fund, passing on the fees—usually via electricity rates—to customers. The government then distributes the money to communities and companies working to protect forests. Implemented in nearly half of Vietnam’s 63 provinces, the program has generated $47 million a year, according to a recent article in the New York Times.
Yet, hydroelectric companies are increasingly unable to afford the extra expense, and the company that many of them contract with, EVN, is refusing to renegotiate the terms of their agreements. Meanwhile, both scholars and officials criticize the lack of evaluation done on the program, but low funding makes such assessments less feasible.
What the major utility companies cannot ignore, however, is that community support for such programs remains strong. When monitoring turns into direct confrontations with illegal loggers, freelance patrollers run the risk of serious injury or even death. Nevertheless, some patrollers report that they participate in these programs not just for financial gain, even though the earnings can make up the majority of income for some families. Rather, they volunteer themselves out of a sense of responsibility—to protect nature as well as their community.
Please sign the petition below and push to protect Vietnam’s forest ecosystems and support the valiant individuals who risk their lives daily to preserve the environment.
Dear Dao Van Hung,
I am writing to bring your attention to the struggling Payments for Environmental Services program in Vietnam. Compensating community members for monitoring forests, this ecosystem payment program looks to stimulate economic development in poor areas, and has generated $47 million a year. Though earnings can make up the majority of income for some families, many patrollers participate in the program not just for financial gain but out of the responsibility they feel for nature and their communities.
Your company’s refusal to renegotiate long-term electricity buying agreements is jeopardizing the sustainability of this program. I encourage you to resume dialogue concerning contracts with hydroelectric companies and reevaluate your investment in the program. Please help lead the way in revitalizing Vietnam’s forest ecosystems and the local residents who risk their lives to protect them.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Violetbonmua via Wikimedia Commons