Environmental justice in Vietnam


“Weak” to “ Strong” Sustainability: Protesting for Environmental Justice in Vietnam. This project examines how access to knowledge affects environmental disputes in Vietnam. It is funded by the UNDP.


  • Professor John Gillespie
  • Associate Professor Nguyen Van Thang
    Asia Pacific Institute of Management, National Economics University, Vietnam
  • Dr Le Quang Canh
    Asia Pacific Institute of Management
    National Economics University, Vietnam
  • Dr Nguyen Vu Hung
    Institute for Population and Social Studies, National Economics University, Vietnam

Project background and aims

Rapid industrialization has come at a high cost to the natural environment in Vietnam. Frustrated with regulatory inaction, Vietnamese citizens from many social backgrounds have taken direct action to protect their country’s natural environment. Most studies about environmental disputes in Vietnam have focused on large-scale conflicts, leaving smaller-scale rural disputes comparatively under researched. Drawing on in-depth interviews, this research projects explores how knowledge about environmental activism can transform the claims made in small-scale disputes. It examines why these disputes can sometimes succeed in mitigating environmental harm when complaints through administrative and judicial avenues fail.


The project follows neo-Marxist theory that posits that environmental disputes are intrinsic to economic development, and rather than a phenomenon to be avoided, they possess the potential to transform the organisational systems that enable harmful environmental pollution. Using ethnographic methodological techniques, the project develops five case studies about environmental disputes from in-depth interviews conducted in northern, central and southern Vietnam. The interviewees were identified through a combination of purposive, niche, and snowball sampling methods.