Hanoi, Viet Nam — members of NGOs, corporations, government agencies, and community plant harvester consortiums gathered today in Hanoi to discuss the economic and environmental benefits of sustainable sourcing at TRAFFIC’s Green Growth Workshop. The event brought together contributors from various links in the plant-processing trade chain to determine how trade in legal wildlife products could be managed for sustainability, providing benefits to all parties.
The event featured a review of TRAFFIC’s recently completed project working with wild medicinal and aromatic plant collectors in Bac Kan province, which saw collectors increase their revenue from herbaceous plant Jiaogulan by 30%. The boost in revenue was especially impactful as 14% of the population lives below the poverty line in the province.
Project participants were trained in sustainable harvesting techniques and given guidance on how to negotiate better trade contracts. Over 15 formalised collectors’ groups were formed over the duration of the project. Nearly 1,000 collectors benefited from the initiative, including 415 women.
Representatives from TRAFFIC and Bac Kan’s Forest Protection Department reflected on the achievements of the initiative and indicated how the project model was suitable for replication throughout other regions in Viet Nam and for other plant species.
The FairWild Standard, an international best practices framework for wild plant trade, was put forth as a means by which companies could ensure that they were meeting global standards in product quality, labour practices, and sustainability.
To offer a corporate perspective, representatives from TH Food Chain (Tru Milk) and DK Pharma presented information on the benefits and challenges of seeking sustainably sourced wildlife for their products. Both companies emphasised the importance and fragility of Viet Nam’s biodiversity and the value in protecting it.
A panel discussion called “Source to Store” brought together various stakeholders in the plant trade, including Director of the Bao Chau wild plant collection co-operative Hoang Van Luan, DK Pharma Project Director Nguyen The Cuoy, Senior Officer at the Traditional Medicine Administration Nguyen Thi Phuong Lan, and Deputy Director of the Bac Kan Forest Protection Department Hoang Thang Trinh for a discussion on roles and challenges of the actors along the value chain, as well as the enabling environment in which they operate. Panellists spoke about the support they need moving forwards, such as funding, capacity building, and assistance with certification and brand registration.
“Sustainability is key: in order to offer Viet Nam the support it needs moving forward, we need to understand the real challenges that people and companies face on their journey to becoming more sustainable,” said Sarah Ferguson, director of TRAFFIC in Viet Nam.
“We learned a great deal today that will enhance our practical knowledge and help us craft better solutions, so that we can implement projects that seek to protect the natural world while providing economic benefits to communities in a more effective way.”
Viet Nam is home to about 4,000 species of medicinal and aromatic plants, which provide key ingredients for food, medicine, and cosmetics. Many of these plant species are under threat due to destructive harvesting practices, uncontrolled trade, and a lack of monitoring and enforcement. Improving links along trade chains, building capacity on sustainable harvesting, and promoting equitable trade are crucial for their conservation.
The workshop was made possible with funding from the Darwin Initiative, a UK government funding programme that works to protect biodiversity and the natural environment through locally based projects worldwide.
Link to original article: https://www.traffic.org/news/green-growth-workshop-vietnam