Vietnam is one of few developing countries that is planning to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Norway contributes as one of the country's most important partners in the area of climate and forests.

Facts about Vietnam

The flag for Vietnam
Life expectancy
The flag for Vietnam
GNI pr capita
The flag for Vietnam
Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
The flag for Vietnam
The flag for Vietnam

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Vietnam is an authoritarian one-party state, ruled by the Communist Party. The political situation is stable and focuses on the continuation of economic reforms and economic growth.

The country may be described as holding "the world record" in development, with a reduction in poverty from 58 per cent in 1990 to 15 per cent in 2008. According to the World Bank, the share of the population living under the poverty line increased to 17 per cent in 2012.

Vietnam has been classified as a middle-income country since 2010. However, the country is struggling with a number of macroeconomic challenges, and it has reported weaker growth in recent years. The GNP increased by 5.4 per cent in 2013.

Progress in Vietnam has been significant in many areas, and many of the UN millennium development goals have been achieved, including a strengthened public health system, higher life expectancy and universal primary education. Vietnam has achieved a considerable reduction in the infant and child mortality rate, for example. In other areas, development causes more concern, especially in relation to human rights, corruption, climate change and the division of resources.

Extreme poverty among minorities is still almost 30 per cent, more than nine times the percentage for other population groups. Despite the fact that the 53 different ethnic minorities constitute only about 15 per cent of the population, ethnic minority children comprise more than 60 per cent of all poor children, and the likelihood of dying before the age of five is almost four times greater for children of ethnic minorities than for other children in Vietnam.

The constitution was revised in 2013. Several updates were made relating to human rights, for example. The revised constitution, however, entails few changes of importance to the country's governance, and it cements the supreme position of the Communist Party in Vietnamese society.

 Norwegian experts have been contributing to put in place laws that promote fish farming, and prevent overfishing and emissions of hazardous waste in Vietnam.

Norway's priorities in Vietnam:

Norwegian development cooperation with Vietnam goes back 40 years. Between 1972 and 2013, official government aid from Norway to Vietnam has amounted to over NOK 2.3 billion. In line with Norway's Vietnam strategy from 2008 and the development of the country, Norway's priorities in Vietnam are now:

  • Climate, the environment and forest cooperation
  • Renewable energy
  • Technical cooperation
  • Women and gender equality
  • Culture

Norway also donates significant non-earmarked funds to the UN organisations that operate in the country. A number of Norwegian voluntary organisations have a presence in Vietnam.

Climate, the environment and forest cooperation

Vietnam is one of few developing countries that is planning to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Vietnam is a pilot country for the United Nations programme for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation(UN REDD).

Both phase 1 and phase 2 of this forest cooperation have been fully financed by Norway with USD 4.5 and 30 million, respectively. In 2012, Norway and Vietnam signed a political declaration of intention for climate and forest cooperation.

Norway also supports the World Bank cooperative programme the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), which has Vietnam as one of its member countries.

Vietnam is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change.  Rising sea levels will have catastrophic consequences for Vietnam’s food security, and the entire region, since the country is one of the world's leading rice exporters.

The government is giving high priority to climate change, and is cooperating with Norway in both climate and environmental issues, as well as in prevention of natural disasters. For example, the cooperation of the Vietnam National University and Norwegian Geotechnical Institute has contributed to competence building for Vietnamese researchers with regard to the prevention of devastation due to natural disasters.

Renewable energy

Norway wishes to contribute to a focus on renewable energy and energy conservation, such that more climate-friendly development can be achieved. In cooperation with SN Power, two capacity sharing projects have been carried out with the Vietnamese Electricity Cluster.  The first project focused on sharing Norwegian and international experience on how to change a monopoly institution in the power sector.

The second project had the aim of sharing Norwegian and international experience in developing markets and providing a better understanding of the value of company management, based on international practices. The report on the project will be available in 2014.

Technical cooperation

Technical cooperation with specialist environments in Norway is in demand in Vietnam to contribute to increasing competence and building capacity in climate change and environmental toxins.

A cooperation between the Vietnam Academy for Agricultural Sciences and the Norwegian research institute Bioforsk, in which the effects of climate changes on rice production are studied, has begun. A report has been prepared that provides knowledge on the rice production systems. New knowledge on women’s vulnerability and adaptation has been produced. A preliminary report indicates alternative production methods and possible adaptation to, for example, more salt in the rice fields, and alternative fertiliser methods.

In a technical cooperation project between the Institut Pasteur in Nha Trang and the University of Tromsø a follow-up study of 189 children who were initially studied in 2005, and a comparison group of 200 children, was conducted to study the long-term consequences of environmental toxins. The results will be available in 2014.

Women and gender equality

The perspectives of women and gender equality are integrated into all development work that is managed by the Norwegian Embassy in Hanoi. The focus on gender equality is also ensured through support to voluntary organisations and UN organisations, such as UN Women.

Norway has participated actively in the gender equality group for multilateral organisations, which have once again attracted the attention of the authorities, especially with regard to gender-based violence. Gender equality is also an integral part of Norwegian support to UN-REDD. Bilaterally, Norway and Vietnam cooperate on the continued implementation of the national equal rights legislation.


To ensure cultural cooperation between Norway and Vietnam and contribute to building up Vietnamese institutions of significance to a free and varied cultural life, the Norwegian Embassy in Hanoi has supported cultural projects in the amount of NOK 5.4 million in 2013.

The cultural project Classical Music Transposition, which includes 12 institutional partners in Norway and Vietnam, arranged a series of concerts, ballet performances, operas and seminars. They involved many hundred active participants, such as musicians, dancers, singers, technicians and administrative staff. The public concerts were attended by several thousand people, and they were broadcast in a number of television programmes produced primarily by Vietnam's national and regional television stations. Through the exchange programmes, education and concerts, 153 Vietnamese musicians improved their skills.

Norwegian NGO´s

In 2014, nine Norwegian non-governmental organisations, which include, among others, Care, Digni, Norwegian Church Aid and Norwegian People's Aid, will receive NOK 26 million from the Norwegian aid budget for projects in Vietnam.

Key areas they are working with include the rights of minorities and women, climate and the environment, landmine clearance and better living conditions.

For example, Norwegian Church Aid cooperates with various religious communities on a prison programme. This has contributed to giving over 440 women prisoners access to health check-ups and 2000 having received information on reproductive health.

United Nations support

Norway has wished to be an active promoter of United Nations reform to secure a modern and effective United Nations that can deliver results to the people in Vietnam.

An ambitious reform process has been carried out in recent years with support from Norway, among others. This has contributed to significant changes in the way the 16 local UN organisations in Vietnam work. The most recent independent evaluation showed good results for the global organisation's work in the form of a more harmonious and effective United Nations. The reporting of results has improved and is closely followed by the donors. The United Nations' other joint country programme in Vietnam (UN ONE PLAN) with a total budget of USD 480 million was signed in 2012, and it is a concrete example of how the United Nations can deliver as one organisation in Vietnam. The focus areas of the plan are:

  • Inclusive, fair and sustainable growth
  • Access to basic social services and social protection with improved systems for health, education, gender equality and governance

There has been some improvement in the conditions for civil society in Vietnam, and there has been substantial progress in the areas of education and health. The United Nations is a donor for these areas. In 2013, a major report on education and poverty was, for example, published by the Young Lives project, which has followed a number of children in several provinces from the time when they were infants in 2000. The results document that the children's skills in mathematics and Vietnamese, for example, are relatively good. The report contributes information that Vietnam's development in these areas has been very positive and that education contributes to reducing social inequalities.

Aid effectiveness

The Norwegian Embassy mainly uses Vietnam’s administrative systems, which may entail delays, but provide an opportunity for a dialogue on transparency.

For those cases (the United Nations, for example) when Vietnam's systems are not used, the embassy is concerned about ensuring that ownership and other principles are safeguarded.

The Norwegian Embassy practices zero tolerance for corruption. Good governance and anti-corruption are high on the agenda in cooperation with the authorities, both for work through the United Nations and in bilateral projects. The embassy reports the plans for transfers to the authorities annually, and it participates actively in several forums to contribute to aid effectiveness and the division of work, for example, in the informal UN donor group and in a work group for ethnic minorities.

 Support for research and education within aquaculture have increased production for poor fish farmers by forty percent. The new fish are healthier and they grow faster.

Published 28.08.2014
Last updated 16.02.2015