The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a country in transition from state-run economy to market economy under the control of the Vietnamese Communist Party. After 2008, large-scale projects of bauxite mining and alumina production have been started in the south-central highland of this country, namely Tan Rai in Lam Dong province and Nhan Co in Dak Nong province. The projects have been initiated by Vietnamese national enterprise, namely TKV (VINACOMIN) in cooperation with a Chinese aluminum company. However, these projects were contrived between the Vietnamese Communist Party and the Chinese Communist Party without discussion in the Vietnamese National Assembly. Vietnamese intellectuals took public issue with the government and pointed out the inadequate preparations of the projects. In order to learn about the reality of the project sites, and the circumstances of local farming villages in particular, the author has made field researches in the bauxite-mining sites in Nhan Co and Tan Rai in 2012 and 2014. Outcomes of the researches indicated a lack of transparency and accountability of the local governments and the enterprises. The villagers cultivating coffee, tea, nuts or pepper were very little informed about land expropriation or possible environmental influence, while they had been affected by environmental problems such as noise, air and water pollution by bauxite factories as well as by traffic hazards caused by alumina transportation and road repairing coinciding with the projects. It must be said that good governance with participation of the government, enterprises, specialists and local people including ethnic minorities is necessary for Vietnamese large-scale industrial development. However, government and business authorities are very reluctant to have risk communication with local people as well as discussions with critical intellectuals. In addition, communication networks between urban intellectuals and local villagers about environmental risks are very poor. This paper points out outstanding risks caused by the bauxite exploitation to consider the possibility of risk management proper for Vietnam as a transitional economy.
Artisanal/small-scale mining (ASM) is a rush-type mineral recovery by poor people who use rudimentary tools. ASM has been marginalized from society due to the negative impacts of various dimensions: it is associated with devegitation, accidents, pollution, conflicts, smuggling and human rights violation. This situation has prevented them from achieving their full economic potential and from conducting more sustainable practices, but negative perception is shifting in Asia and the Pacific, and ASM is gradually becoming more formalized and are being recognized as important contributors to the economy. However their management skill and technology still needs further development. In this context, management assistance can be offered from Japan, especially through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), as its group training programs. The group member can be invited from different disciplines and organizations but from the same ASM area where they live. The training course can consist of wide range of subjects ranging from science to humanities. The final goal of each government should be the establishment of good governance in terms of ASM. Introduction of risk management methodologies seems to be a key to success in that they enable the competent/aid agencies to talk and cooperate with local communities to find sustainable solutions for poverty reduction and economic growth.
A risk assessment (RA) is a series of procedure to quantify magnitude of risk. For an effective and transparent risk governance, sharing and understanding on quantitative risk information would be a first step. It is necessary not only for cases in developed countries but in developing countries. In this article, the author referred to a definition of the word “risk,” and introduced methods of RA in chemical risk. On chemical substances, risk is calculated according to the following formula; Risk=Hazard×Exposure Hazard assessment is a process of judgment whether the substance causes an adverse effect or not.Exposure assessment is a quantification procedure on exposures for targeted people who are currently experiencing or anticipating the adverse effect. For those assessments, scientific knowledge and data are used, such as animal test data, epidemiological data, measured concentration(s) for environmental media and concentration(s) appropriately estimated by mathematical models. For decision making in the real world, we should consider economic, social, political consequences of regulatory options in addition to the results of RA. This step is not necessarily scientific. Then the author introduces an example of RA, focusing on lead pollution in a waste processing site for used/waste electronic equipments (E-waste) of China. Guiyu, which is located in Guangdong Province, was heavily polluted by inappropriate E-waste recycling, and well known for its bad condition. Researchers surveyed environmental concentrations and adverse effects on the residents in Guiyu. In our study, we confirmed whether model estimation on environmental concentration by a simple multi-media model is valid for exposure assessment and risk assessment. The model simulation to estimate lead concentration was applied by the model named USES-LCA 2.0. The result showed a good agreement on the simulated concentrations and measured concentrations. This suggests that risk assessment based on a model simulation will be expanded to prioritize plural scenarios on environmental management policies. A transparent prioritization tool of environmental management policies, based on the consideration of the cost-effectiveness of risk reduction, will facilitate better decision making.
The governance issues show various aspects in the mining sector in the less developed countries. This article aims to introduce short history and recent trend in the context of development assistance. Development partners such as bilateral and multilateral donor agencies introduced support to enhance “governance.” International standards such as environmental considerations, inclusive development with participatory process, and transparency are also required in the development project in the less developed countries. The other challenge is various choices of partners including private sector. This article also overviews the governance related issues in mining sector from the perspectives of “rules and regulations” and capacity. Rules and regulations are relatively easy to be introduced (or sometime simply imported) from other countries. The capacity to enforce the rules and regulations is the other important aspect but it requires high-performing personnel and organization as well. The capacity includes knowledge, technology and experience. These challenges on the governance in mining sector are a common issue for both developed and less developed countries, but the adverse effects to local communities and biodiversity tend to be severe with weaker governance. JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) is the Japanese governmental agency for the implementation of official development assistance. JICA’s assistance in the mining sector consists of four pillars, namely, Infrastructure and Regional Development, Policy Support and Legal System Development, Mineral Resource Management, and Mine Safety and Environmental Measures for Mines. JICA focuses on human resource development in every aspect to meet rising needs for both quantitatively and qualitatively higher level of capacity.
This short note introduces the concept of governance and then shows lessons learned from Japanese experience in combating environmental pollution from the viewpoint of risk governance in order to consider the role of governance in resource development in Asian countries. Japan experienced serious environmental degradations during the course of economic development. It was definitely a failure for Japan. It is pointed out that ex post remedial actions have been much more expensive than ex ante hypothetical pollution abatements. In contrast, it is also said that policies for pollution control were very effective in reducing pollution. Several governance factors functioned well in the course of overcoming environmental degradation. In the final part of this note, environmental assessment and risk approach are introduced as effective tools for promoting good governance.