Training measures are crucial to fill the capacity gaps for REDD+ implementation faced by Viet Nam. Thus, Viet Nam’s National University of Forestry (VNUF) and UN Environment (through the UN-REDD Viet Nam Phase II Programme) collaborated to create an effective model for adopting the REDD+ Academy into the training curriculum in Viet Nam. The model combines academic and research programmes in order to enrich the training experiences for both lecturers and students.
VNUF has been a pioneer in taking action aligned with the United Nations Environment Assembly’s (UNEA) resolution entitled, “Investing in human capacity for sustainable development through environmental education and training”, which was adopted in May 2016. Spanning a history of more than 50 years, VNUF has been the leading institution providing education and research for Viet Nam’s forestry sector. Based on a close collaboration with UN Environment through the UN-REDD Viet Nam Phase II Programme since early 2016, the University started adopting the REDD+ Academy and its training materials. It also adapted the materials into an elective course, which was piloted under two of VNUF’s Master programmes (one for the Forestry Masters programme, and another for the Forest Resources Management Masters).
Following the success of the pilot REDD+ courses, the University Board decided to officially include REDD+ as an elective course for the two Master programmes from 2017 onwards. In addition, the University also extended the reach of REDD+ knowledge by integrating it into the Forest Policy and Economic subject of its International Tropical Forestry Masters Program, which is supported by the German Academic Exchange Services (DAAD) and includes students from seven countries across the Southeast Asia region.
In-class discussion during a REDD+ Training course at VNUF Interactions with local authorities and villagers during a field visit to a REDD+ implementation site in Lao Cai province
The partnership with VNUF was further strengthened during 2017-2018, which led VNUF to become the go-to platform for REDD+ dissemination in academic curricula. As a result, a university network was established to facilitate collaboration and share experiences on how to betterintegrate new knowledge into the training curricula among these universities. Participating universities of this network include the Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry, Bac Giang Agriculture and Forestry University, Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry, Tay Nguyen University and the Ho Chi Minh City University of Agriculture and Forestry.
The first working session of the network was hosted and facilitated by VNUF from November- December 2017. During this session, lecturers and researchers from participating universities shared their experiences on studying and teaching climate change and REDD+ related subjects, as well as their future plans for integrating the subjects into their training curricula. The participants also visited REDD+ implementation sites in Lao Cai province.
Following the event, participating universities started capacity-building and integration training activities with support from VNUF lecturers through workshops and trainings for both lecturers and students. In particular, a complete course on climate change and REDD+ was successfully offered for graduate students in Forestry and Environmental Sciences majors at the Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry (TUAF) in May 2018 – jointly hosted by VNUF and TUAF lecturers.
As of June 2018, more than 100 lecturers and almost 200 graduate students have joined training courses on climate change and REDD+. Surveys conducted with students who attended the REDD+ training courses showed their high satisfaction with what they found as “real value-added, practical knowledge”.
Speaking as a representative of one of the Masters classes, Mr. Nguyen Trong Hieu said: “This was the first-ever training course in the whole Masters program in which students had the chance to meet and interact with so many lecturers, practitioners, policy makers, and be exposed to demonstrations through field visits.” Mr. Hieu – who is now working for the Sub-institute of Forest Inventory and Planning of the North-Eastern Region of Viet Nam – stressed the importance of these interactions and the valuable knowledge that he and his classmates acquired by attending the REDD+ course.
Enhanced partnership with universities on the integration of REDD+ and climate change knowledge into training curricula can help sustain long-term capacity development for Viet Nam. Through this ongoing collaboration, lecturers, researchers and students are actively engaging in the country’s REDD+ implementation agenda and national dialogues, especially in regards to the implementation of the National REDD+ Action Programme (NRAP).
As a result, new teaching materials have been developed and incorporated in the training curricula of the universities. For instance, recent experiences from supporting provinces in the development of Provincial REDD+ Action Plans (PRAP) and Site-based REDD+ Action Plans (SiRAP) resulted in a new course on sub-national REDD+ action planning, which was included in the REDD+ training course. Lastly, VNUF has established a new study center for REDD+ and climate change to support research and training from 2018 onwards.