Civil Society Index studies were carried out worldwide from 2004 to 2006 in order to assess the present strengths and weaknesses of civil society in several dozen countries. The assessments follow similar methodologies in each country to assess civil society at a national level, based on the participation of a national Stakeholder Assessment Group (SAG) and a national team comprising a coordinator, researchers and an international civil society expert. The assessments are based on a common methodology developed by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation through extensive research in a number of pilot countries.
The VietNam project was carried out from April 2005 to March 2006 and was made possible by support from the UNDP and SNV in VietNam. It was the first attempt in Viet Nam to broadly map civil society.
Objectives of the CSI include:
This discussion paper provides a context for the project in Viet Nam and summarises the methodology and outcome of the CSI study. The definition used for civil society is broad and inclusive and focuses on the functions, rather than the forms, of the organisations involved. The major findings are discussed and the paper concludes with a number of recommendations as to how the development of civil society in Viet Nam could be further supported.
The CSI studies assess four essential dimensions of civil society, which together give a broad and coherent perspective on civil society. The four dimensions are: the structure of civil society, the socio-economic environment for civil society, the values of civil society, and the impact of civil society activities. In all, the Stakeholder Assessment Group (SAG) assessed 74 indicators related to the four dimensions.
Vu Thanh Tu AnhBrian JM Quinn
UNDP Policy Dialogue Paper 2008/1
Ha Noi, June 2008
Markets require clear rules and supporting institutions to function properly. Millions of business deals are made every day between complete strangers, and most of these transactions will not be repeated. If individuals and businesses come to believe that contracts cannot be enforced, the cost of doing business will rise for everyone. Cultural norms and social ties are effective means of controlling bad behaviour within small communities, but they are not much help when markets operate beyond the boundaries of the village or small town.
This paper reports results from a survey of 180 farmers and 47 traders in the Mekong Delta's pomelo fruit market. The authors found that contract enforcement remains a serious problem in the fruit trade. Since transactions are risky, costs are higher than they should be for both farmers and traders. The paper also considers the appropriate policy response to this situation. The best solution would be to guarantee easy and affordable access to a transparent and impartial legal system. But the authors are aware that legal system development will take some time. In the meantime, the creation of feedback mechanisms that facilitate the development of commercial reputations would represent a cost-effective alternative.
The Chu Lai Open Economic Zone and Rural Development: Central Planning's Laboratory for Policy and Institutional Innovation
Eli Mazur, David Dapice, Vu Thanh Tu Anh
UNDP Policy Dialogue Paper 2008/2
Ha Noi, July 2008
Viet Nam is still a predominantly rural country, and therefore the creation of good, stable jobs in rural areas is a key policy priority. Export Processing Zones (EPZ) are one of the instruments used in Viet Nam and other developing countries to spur employment growth outside of the major cities. These zones combine good infrastructure with other incentives to attract investors to locations that they may not have considered in the absence of the EPZ.
This paper examines the experience of the Chu Lai Open Economic Zone in Quang Nam province to distill some lessons about the performance of EPZs as a policy instrument to stimulate rural development.
The paper argues that local officials have invested too much time and money in the attempt to attract foreign investors rather than concentrating on the domestic private sector. Although foreign investment is desirable, Quang Nam is more likely to emerge as a domestic business hub rather than a production location for major multinational corporations. Local government should focus on the essential task of helping the domestic private sector gain legal and affordable access to land and capital. In addition, the authors recommend further decentralization of authority to local government to enable Chu Lai to engage in policy experiments without the prior approval of central government authorities.
Climate change is the defining human development challenge of the 21st Century. Failure to respond to that challenge will stall and then reverse international efforts to reduce poverty. The poorest countries and most vulnerable citizens will suffer the earliest and most damaging setbacks, even though they have contributed least to the problem. Looking to the future, no country—however wealthy or powerful—will be immune to the impact of global warming.
The Human Development Report 2007/2008 shows that climate change is not just a future scenario. Increased exposure to droughts, floods and storms is already destroying opportunity and reinforcing inequality. Meanwhile, there is now overwhelming scientific evidence that the world is moving towards the point at which irreversible ecological catastrophe becomes unavoidable. Business-as-usual climate change points in a clear direction: unprecedented reversal in human development in our lifetime, and acute risks for our children and their grandchildren.
There is a window of opportunity for avoiding the most damaging climate change impacts, but that window is closing: the world has less than a decade to change course. Actions taken—or not taken—in the years ahead will have a profound bearing on the future course of human development. The world lacks neither the financial resources nor the technological capabilities to act. What is missing is a sense of urgency, human solidarity and collective interest.
As the Human Development Report 2007/2008 argues, climate change poses challenges at many levels. In a divided but ecologically interdependent world, it challenges all people to reflect upon how we manage the environment of the one thing that we share in common: planet Earth. It challenges us to reflect on social justice and human rights across countries and generations. It challenges political leaders and people in rich nations to acknowledge their historic responsibility for the problem, and to initiate deep and early cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Above all, it challenges the entire human community to undertake prompt and strong collective action based on shared values and a shared vision.
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This is the second of two reports written for the United Nations Development Programme in Viet Nam to explore the issues of income, poverty and social security in Viet Nam and which follow on from the Policy Dialogue Paper entitled Beyond HEPR: A Framework for an Integrated National System of Social Security in Viet Nam published in 2005, which put forward general principles for comprehensive social security programmes in Viet Nam (Justino 2005). In this report we look exclusively at the position of the elderly in Viet Nam and answer several key questions about their circumstances as found in the 2004 Viet Nam Household Living Standards Survey (VHLSS).
The approach of this report is empirical and descriptive and Part 1 continues by outlining how elderly Vietnamese fit into the overall demographic structures of Viet Nam. Part 2 then looks at elderly economic activity while Part 3 that describes their health profile. Part 4 describes incomes of the elderly and then focuses on social security and remittances, which are particularly important sources of income. Part 5 then describes the poverty profile and Part 6 brings together the papers findings and draws some conclusions.
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