Organizer: Michael R. DiGregorio, University of California, Los Angeles
Chair: Le Trong Cuc, Hanoi University
Discussant: A. Terry Rambo, East West Center
Jeffrey Romm, University of California, Berkeley
Economic growth in Vietnam, as in other places, affects the intensity and distribution of activity over space and the level and distribution of well being among people. Such impacts change the qualities of environmental assets, for better and for worse, and the social capacities to invest in or conserve natural as well as human resources. This paper reports on a study of relations between development policy, spatial growth patterns, and related impacts on the quality, intensity and distribution of activity and environmental assets. Understanding these relations may help to achieve development policies that incorporate concerns about social distributions and their environmental consequences. Using data drawn primarily from Vinh Phu province, the study also identifies means by which rural people seek to control, manage or compensate for developmental forces that modify the circumstances in which they live.
Dara J. O'Rourke, University of California, Berkeley
With recent government reforms and the lifting of the U.S. trade embargo, Vietnam is currently experiencing a significant transformation of the industrial sector. While industrial development will likely bring benefits for the general population, there is significant potential for adverse environmental and health impacts of industrial expansion.
Already in fact, industrial development, involving both changes in domestic industry and growth of foreign direct investment, is having significant impacts on the people and environment of Vietnam. Vietnam's trajectory of industrialization-which is impacted by historical circumstances, state policies, international pressures, conditions and constraints at the firm level, and social pressures-is creating unique problems for development planners. Attempting to understand the process of industrial transformation and the constraints on specific actors involved in industrialization is a critical first step in developing appropriate policy responses for protecting the environment during rapid industrial development.
This paper reports on a study of environmental impacts of industrial transformation in Vietnam. The paper will begin by introducing some of the primary factors driving industrialization in Vietnam, the current development model (and underlying theories) proposed by the Vietnamese government, and the current geography of industrialization. Current production technology levels, and the resulting environmental impacts of production, will be described for two case study industries. The paper will also evaluate institutional structures being developed to respond to environmental problems.
The paper will then discuss some policy options for de-coupling environmental impacts (such as pollution levels) from industrial development. Opportunities for pollution prevention and more environmentally sound industrial development will be explored. Finally, government goals and activities aimed at balancing economic growth, environmental quality, and equity issues will be discussed.
Robert R. Reed, University of California, Berkeley
During the heyday of imperialism in South and Southeast Asia, Westerners founded and maintained more than 125 costly hill stations situated at elevations between 350 and 3,000 meters above sea level. Conceived as sanitaria for colonists, colonial administrators and their families suffering from debilitating endemic illnesses and epidemic diseases, most highland health resorts rapidly evolved into highly segregated social enclaves and recreation centers reserved for European elites. Some strategically situated hill stations, having emerged as growth poles in the rugged mountain realms, were gradually transformed into multifunctional hubs of administration, education, transportation, commerce, agricultural development, forestry, and mining. The foremost of these, tropical Asia's 'summer capitals,' became the periodic seats of western imperium as national and provincial governments moved to the highlands during the heat of monsoonal Asia's dry season.
By the 1930s, Dalat, a French colonial hill station in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, became renowned as one of the finest mountain resorts and administrative complexes in Asia. Established late in the colonial era (c. 1900), its founders and developers explicitly patterned France's premiere station d'altitude after the models of Simla (India), Buitenzorg (Java), Nuwara Eliya (Sri Lanka), and Baguio (Philippines). Although conceived as an exclusive recreational preserve for Europeans, its long-term design wisely called for and anticipated the conversion of Dalat into a diversified urban center with functional linkages throughout the southern Central Highlands of Vietnam.
At least five urban plans (Champoudrey, Hebrard, Pineau, Lagisquet and Decoux) were drawn to orchestrate the development of Dalat. These designs, which adapted principles of European and American urban planning to the specific conditions of the colonial highlands, included spatial organization by function areas and the separation of non-compatible uses, a general layout intended to promote environmental harmony, segregation of ethnic communities, and comprehensive zoning regulations. With the expulsion of the French from Indochina, the Vietnamese began transforming Dalat into a center for domestic tourism and a key secondary city in the highlands, a place it holds today.
This paper will explore the utility of these plans in directing the growth of Dalat, paying particular attention to the pressures placed upon the city through internal migration, domestic tourism and more recent development of Dalat as an international destination.
Michael R. DiGregorio, University of California, Los Angeles
Scavenging and junk buying have frequently appeared in development literature as symbols of urban environmental deterioration, human degradation and lost hopes. Beyond these images, however, lies a reality in which these disparaged occupations provide refuge for the unemployed, a secure economic niche for particular ethnic, caste, or territorial communities, material inputs for local industries, commodities for export, and a means of diverting large amounts of recoverable materials from landfills and composting plants.
This paper, which applies a political ecology framework to the analysis of scavenging and junk buying in Hanoi, Vietnam, suggests that these two occupations are best understood in the dialectic processes of socio-ecologic change. The large-scale withdrawal of the state from its former redistributional role in favor of market allocation has prompted changes in both the physical arrangement of space-farms, forests, and cities-and the social structures that, in turn, adapt and adapt to them. Communes and cooperatives are giving way to household enterprises and capitalist corporations. Land, which can now be privately held, has leap-frogged in value, prompting a reorganization of urban and rural space along the lines of most profitable use. The need for cash income to purchase goods and services formerly provided by the state has also worked its way across the landscape as government agencies engage in money-making endeavors, such as the operation of guest houses, to supplement their state budgets and rural families migrate, either permanently or on a temporary basis, in search of income earning work.
Scavenging and junk buying provides a wide window into these processes of socio-ecologic change as they are occurring at this rare moment in Vietnamese history. Though not unique in any sense, these two occupations bridge rural and urban lifespace, linking territorial communities in cycles of urban and agricultural work. Nearly half of all those employed in scavenging and junk buying, roughly 3,000 people, are members of farming families who use work in Hanoi to supplement their agricultural incomes. The majority, or about 2,500 people, come from a single district, Xuan Thuy district in Nam Ha province, approximately 120 kilometers from Hanoi. Residents of Xuan Thuy rely on relatives and village mates living in Hanoi, many of whom are the sons and daughters of Xuan Thuy natives who came to work for the Sanitation Company in the 1930s, to provide housing and training. Change in the organization of agricultural production combined with increasing income needs and the opening of economic space, have set conditions under which the urban side of the Xuan Thuy community could offer work to their rural counterparts and the rural side could be willing to engage in low-status urban work.
Despite the apparent economic and ecologic benefits of scavenging and junk buying, the system as it currently appears is threatened from a number of sources. To address these threats, recyclers need the social and political standing that would allow them to stake out a position in society and evolve with changing conditions.
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