Perspectives from Paula

My PhD research investigates the dynamics of participation and livelihoods change associated with the implementation of marine protected areas in Viet Nam. My in-country research focuses on different scales of operation by examining two project case studies as examples of different types of MPA conservation, and also by study of the broader policy context associated with MPA development and collaborative management of aquatic natural resources. My case study sites are based in Quang Nam and Khanh Hoa Provinces, which is far from the policy hot bed of Ha Noi. So at those times when I wasn’t in the field, the IUCN Ha Noi office was my home base for exploration of this broader policy context.

Laura (at left) in the field

I started at the IUCN Ha Noi office at a very busy and exciting time just before the hosting of the regional IUCN meeting and launch of the IUCN Viet Nam’s Strategic Framework.  It provided many opportunities to understand the broader regional IUCN context as well as meet a few of IUCN Ha Noi’s regional friends, including Julia, the new Director General!

There were many synergies between my research and the work of IUCN Viet Nam’s Coast and Marine Program, as we are all involved with activities such as MPA capacity building training programs funded by NOAA (US government), the ‘Blue Meetings’ for marine policy development coordinated by MCD – the Center for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development, and ongoing involvement with the Livelihood Support to MPA’s in Vietnam implemented by the (former) Ministry of Fisheries and supported by Danida.

In November 2007 I also participated with the IUCN PRA survey on Cat Ba Island in support of the Northwest Tonkin Archipelago project. This trip was useful for me to reflect on how this island-based community living with a national park shared similar issues and experiences with the people of the Cham Islands and MPA where I conducted my own research in central Viet Nam.

Just to prove how far and wide IUCN Viet Nam’s staff can be found, I offer the following story as evidence. Late one Wednesday night in early November I was catching the late flight back to Ha Noi after a month’s field work in Quang Nam Province, and found I was in the middle of an IUCN reunion as I was seated with Dr. Kadi, Dr. San, Tim Wong and Suzi Garner by complete coincidence!

I would like to thank all the IUCN Viet Nam staff who warmly welcomed me into the ‘IUCN family’, who shared their offices, jokes, and fruit with me, and I look forward to seeing you all again when I return to Viet Nam in June 2008 for more field work.


Paula Brown
PhD Candidate - Human Geography
Sydney University

From the editor:
Paula recently returned to Australia after 12 months’ field research about participation and livelihoods change around marine protected areas in Vietnam, and a residency at the IUCN Hanoi office. Paula is a research associate of the Australian Mekong Resource Centre at Sydney University, and a member of the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP).

Viet Nam
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