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Memorandum of Agreements

Memorandum of Agreement (MoA)
Vietnam Forest Sector Support Program and Partnership

In its second session in 1997, the 10th National Assembly approved through its Resolution No. 08/1997/QH10 the Five Million Hectare Reforestation Program (5MHRP), and the Government of Vietnam (GOV) adopted the 5MHRP through its Decision 661/QD-TTg dated July 29, 1998. The  5MHRP  aims  to  re-establish  a  43%  forest  cover  in  the  country  by  2010,  through  a comprehensive  program  aimed  enhancing  environmental  protection,  reducing  poverty  and increasing the contribution forest resources make to the national economy.
At the December 1998 meeting of the Consultative Group, the GOV requested the donor community assistance for this national forestry program. It was agreed at the meeting to develop support to the 5MHRP and its objectives through a Partnership between the GOV and the donor community. The  Partnership was to result in comprehensive and effective  support, taking account of the wider policy and institutional environment in the sector and strengthening the required national capacity. Thus, an environment is created in which national and international resources are used effectively and efficiently to the achievement of the GOV’s objectives formulated in the 5MHRP.
In December 1999, after consultations on the concept of a Partnership, the GOV, based on its Decision 661/QD-TTg, and interested international partners signed an MoA on the Preparation of a Partnership Support Program for the 5MHRP. The objective of the MoA was to reach an agreement on a formal partnership for shared sector support to the 5MHRP to be based on agreed policies, strategies, priorities and principles of implementation in line with international agreements.
Under  the  MoA,  institutional  structures  were  established  for  the  Partnership,  including  a Partnership Steering Committee chaired by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). The Partnership  conducted a joint sector review to form the basis for program development. MARD formulated a Forest Development Strategy 2001-2010. The Partnership Steering Committee (March 2001) adopted the Joint Sector Review (Synthesis Report) and decided  that  the  Forest  Development  Strategy  would  form  the  basis  for  further  program development under the Partnership. As such it acknowledged that a national forestry program has  to  be  viewed  and  supported  through  a  comprehensive  and  broad  sector  development approach.
Subsequently a Program Framework has been developed to support the implementation of the Forest Development Strategy, including the 5MHRP and to make most effective use of national and international resources for sector development. This Program Framework is complemented by a set of Principles for Forestry Sector Cooperation.
Objective of this MoA
To put in place arrangements for continued collaboration in support of the forest sector of Vietnam on the basis of agreed policies, strategies, priorities and principles of implementation.  
Signatories to the partnership share a commitment to the sustainable management of forests and the conservation of biodiversity to achieve: (a) protection of the environment; (b) improved
livelihoods of people in forest areas; and (c) enhanced contribution of forestry to the national economy.
By collaborating, the GOV and the international partners aim to maximise effectiveness and efficiency in the use of all resources applied to the sector. A key to effectiveness is greater harmonisation of policies and programs in the context of shared objectives for the sector. 
Policy Statement
The GOV and international partners recognise the need for coherence between forestry sector development  strategy  and  the  Government’s  overall  socio-economic  development  strategy 2001-2010. The emphasis on economic growth for rural areas, industrialisation and the need for sustainable environmental management is consistent with the stated goal for the forestry sector, as formulated under this Partnership.
The GOV and international partners recognise that  this calls  for strengthening the policy, institutional and legal framework of the sector, promoting land re-classification and allocation, grass-roots level democracy and initiatives, a market orientation promoting investment and employment in land and forest management, marketing and product processing capacity, aimed at maximising rural income and sustaining the environment through effective and inclusive protection and management of public forest resources and ecosystems.
The  GOV  welcomes  international  support  to  achieve  sector  objectives  under  Government leadership and recognises that a sector approach to international assistance could potentially greatly increase effectiveness and efficiency. Thus it seeks to mobilise all international support to the forestry sector in the framework provided by this MoA.
Status of the MoA
This  MoA  is  not  a  legally  binding  document,  but  rather  a  commitment  to  a  continuing collaboration, respecting a common sector goal and program framework as well as a set of basic and operational principles of international cooperation.
1.  The Partnership’s scope is defined by its stated common goal and further contained by the GOV’s Forest Development Strategy and the Partnership’s Program Framework.
2.  The Partnership aims to include all the major institutional stakeholders in Vietnam's forest sector – GOV agencies at both national and provincial levels, international aid agencies and specialist organisations and local bodies that provide material, technical and service support to  the  forest  sector.  This  includes  private  and  commercial  sector  representatives  and representatives of civil society. The GOV will lead the Partnership.
Partnership Process
A successful sector-wide partnership provides a platform whereby government and international partners discuss and outline the nature of their involvement within a framework of agreed government policies, strategies and programs over a medium-term time frame. Vice versa government policies, strategies and programs are reviewed and updated on the basis of lessons learned from the implementation.  
Although the FSSP result areas identified within the Program Framework are interconnected, it is crucial for effective planning that each signatory identifies its "niche" area(s) of interest in terms  of  result  areas  and  agro-ecological  zones.  This  facilitates  a  clearer  stratification  of international partners’ interests within the FSSP framework and allows the GOV to use the Program Framework for effective donor coordination. 
At the earliest, major attention has to be paid to the mobilisation of support for the reform and strengthening of relevant government institutions and procedures at central and decentralized level. The aim is to achieve effective, transparent and accountable sector and public sector management, allowing for increasing integration of international support in the government’s management, and ultimately also budgetary systems. This support will be mainstreamed in, especially, the larger, support programs.
Structure of the MoA
The following documents are attached as integral parts of this MoA:
a.  Basic and Operational Principles for Forestry Sector Cooperation; and
b.  Program Framework.
Principal operational tools to be developed for the Partnership are:
a.  Matrix of Tentative National International Institutional Affiliations;
b.  Common Work Program;
c.  Forest Sector Manual; and
d.  Monitoring and Evaluation.
Modes of Operation
Parties agree to adhere to the stated Principles for Forestry Sector Cooperation (Annex 1).
The Program Framework (Annex 2) forms the key document translating sector and 5MHRP objectives in key result areas and sub-results to be addressed by operational programs. It thus also  forms  the  key  document  for  donor  coordination  and  monitoring  and  evaluation.  The Program Framework forms the basis for joint annual review of the Partnership and will be itself subject to major reviews in 2003 and 2006. 
The Matrix of Tentative National and International Institutional Affiliations is an operational document linking the Program Framework to national institutions and international support. It is the major tool for donor coordination, achieving coherence, building coalitions, identifying gaps and moving towards new forms of financing. It is to be annually updated by the International Cooperation  Department  of  MARD  in  consultation  with  the  Foreign  Economic  Relation Department of the Ministry of Planning and Investment. Annual updates are discussed at the Annual Forest Sector Review Meeting and adopted by the Partnership Steering Committee.
International partners are expected to share and discuss their plans for programs and projects at least at the identification and appraisal stages of the project cycle with the Partnership through the FSSP Technical Executive Committee.
The Common Work Plan is an operational document and rolling planning tool forming a transparent calendar for all parties showing major events and timing major outputs linked to the 
Program Framework. It is regularly updated by the FSSP Office and monitored and approved by the FSSP Technical Executive Committee.
The Forest Sector Manual is an operational document of a modular nature assisting the GOV and  international  partners  in  sharing  information  and  harmonising  the  implementation framework  of  programs  and  projects.  It  can  contain  best  practices,  databases  and  other information, such as on laws, decrees and guidelines. It can also contain modules on common appraisal and evaluation criteria for projects and programs, national criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, accepted cost norms for ODA projects or for investments in forest management and rural development. It will be constantly open to improvement and expansion. Plans for developing various modules of the manual would be incorporated in the CWP, guided by the Technical Executive Committee. The Forest Sector Manual is managed by the FSSP Office and likely to be linked to a web-site.
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is integral part of the Forest Sector Support Program. The M&E system consists of the following three features, which are closely interlinked:
•  M&E  of  the  progress  and  achievements  of  the  Common  Work  Plan  at  National  and Provincial level;
•  M&E of sector-level impact of government and donor supported interventions; and  M&E  of  the  added  value  of  the  Partnership  as  a  cooperation  mechanism  among international signatories and the GOV. 
Criteria for M&E are identified according to the objectives of the sector strategy, objectives and performance  standards  of  the  FSSP,  and  nationally  and  internationally  agreed  criteria  for Sustainable Forest Management.
Institutional Structure of the Partnership
Partnership  Steering  Committee  (PSC).  The  PSC  is  chaired  by  MARD.  The  PSC  will include, but not be limited to, representatives of MARD, the Office of the Government, the Ministry  of  Planning  and  Investment,  the  Ministry  of  Finance,  the  Ministry  of  Science, Technology and Environment, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Training, the Committee of Ethnic Minorities and Mountainous Areas and the signing  International  Partners.  It  will  also  include  one  or  more  representatives  from  the Provincial Reference Group, representing the Provinces of the eight agro-ecological zones, and a representative from national grass roots organizations with representation to be selected on a rotational basis. 
The PSC will set up a standing Technical Executive Committee (TEC), the membership of which will be decided by the PSC, to help to carry out tasks agreed by the Steering Committee between its meetings. The chairman of the TEC is appointed by the chairman of the PSC. The TEC consists of a maximum  of 12 persons, with a minimum of 3 representatives of the international  partners,  a  representative  of  the  National  Environmental  Agency  under  the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, a national non-governmental representative and a representative of the commercial sector. GOV representatives are at the level of director or vice-director of Departments. It will meet on a monthly basis according to a fixed schedule. Its purpose is to provide direct guidance to the implementation of the FSSP&P and the Office of
the FSSP. The TEC receives input from a FSSP Provincial Reference Group of 8-10 members representing the eight agro-ecological zones and from Working Groups linked to (clusters of) key result areas of the Program Framework.  
An FSSP Office is an independent office under MARD, guided by the PSC and reporting to the chairman of the PSC. It assists the PSC in the implementation of the FSSP. The PSC has established a TEC to provide more direct and technical guidance to the implementation of the FSSP and the FSSP Office. The FSSP Office will provide technical, logistical and operational support to the FSSP implementation, assist in monitoring the FSSP and manage information system (including Forest Sector Manual). It will also provide support to the 5MHRP Office. The FSSP Office is to be funded via a trust fund contributed by the Government of Vietnam and International Partners.
An  Annual  Forest  Sector  Support  Program  Review  Meeting,  will  be  a  forum  for  all signatories to the partnership agreement, including provinces and key forest-related institutions, to review progress with the FSSP & Partnership, to program financial and technical aid for the sector and discuss major policy and practical issues affecting the sector.
Annual  Joint  Review  Mission,  with  independent  Vietnamese  and  international  expert membership, will monitor the progress of the sector and Partnership at the three levels indicated in the M&E system and report to all the partners. Its report will be a main agenda item at the Annual Forest Sector Review Meeting. In addition, ad hoc use will be made of working groups, conferences and workshops.
The  Partnership  will  promote  sub-sectoral  fora  where  they  are  likely  to  make  effective contributions to the development objectives of the sector. A number of existing fora and professional associations could effectively be linked to the Partnership (e.g. as Working Group). Particular attention will be paid to private and commercial sector participation and civil society participation and development.
Review of the Structure 
Based on terms of reference to be agreed by the PSC, each Joint Review Mission and Annual Review Meeting will review the effectiveness of the collaborative arrangements and propose changes as deemed appropriate to the PSC. In addition, it is expected that a more systematic review of the partnership arrangements, the progress that has been made towards increasing the effectiveness or efficiency of aid management in the sector and how linkage and crosscutting issues have been handled will be appropriate in 2003 and 2006. The Forest Development Strategy is to be formally reviewed in 2005, in line with the 5-year plan cycle.
Participation and Duration of the MoA
The GoV signs the MoA on the basis of decision by the Office of the Government. The chairman of the PSC holds a list of Ministries, General Departments, Provincial People’s Committees and national non-governmental organizations, which formally expressed their interest to the chairman in joining the Partnership. Interested international partners sign the MoA on their own behalf. Any party can withdraw from the MoA by notifying the PSC in writing.
The Memorandum will initially be valid until December 2010. The term will be extended, if signatories agree. The PSC may accept proposed amendments or additions to the MoA.
Written form of the MoA
This MoA is made in English language

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