Viet Nam is a country of tropical lowlands, hills, and densely forested highlands, with level land covering no more than 20% of the area. The north and south parts of Viet Nam are characterized by low, flat deltas. Central Viet Nam consists mostly of highlands while hilly, mountainous terrain is prominent in the far North and Northwest.

With its unique mix of geography, Viet Nam is one of the countries in the Asia Pacific region most vulnerable to natural disasters. Its long and exposed coastline is subjected to annual beating by typhoons, its mountainous terrain is hit alternately by flash floods and prolonged drought, while its wide river deltas are extremely prone to flooding.

Since the reunification in 1975, the economy of Viet Nam has been plagued by enormous difficulties in production, imbalances in supply and demand, inefficiencies in distribution and circulation, soaring inflation rates, and rising debt problems. In 1986, Viet Nam launched a political and economic innovation campaign (Doi Moi) that introduced reforms intended to facilitate the transition from a centralized economy to a "socialist-oriented market economy".

Rapid economic growth over the past two decades has resulted in a dramatic decrease in recorded poverty. The incidence of poverty, according to the international poverty line, dropped from 58 percent to 20 percent between 1993 and 2004. Viet Nam has also achieved 6 of the Millennium Development Goals and it is about to achieve, according to the World Bank classification, the status of a lower middle-income country status.

Viet Nam is, like other countries, affected by the current global economic crises which have reduced economic growth perspective for 2009-2010. In the long term, the Vietnamese economy needs to move, in order to achieve its development objectives, from a state of international competitiveness only in economic sectors with low value added (e.g. coffee, rice, garments, shoes…etc…) and crude oil, to a state where also knowledge-intensive, higher value added economic sectors (products, services) start to emerge.

Although the national poverty reduction levels have decreased sharply, both in urban and rural areas, there are still deep pockets of poverty. The income inequality between the majority Kinh and many ethnic minor population groups is major and growing.

The strong economic growth in recent years has also had its effects on the environment. The environmental sustainability of the development path of Vietnam is becoming an increasingly important development issue, which already can be seen in a Millenium Development Goal context (e.g. sanitation and waste management being one of Vietnam’s main challenges).

The fight against corruption and strengthening good governance are also key challenges in Viet Nam’s efforts to promote sustainable development.
(Source from UNDP, World Bank and some other embassies in Vietnam)

After 2 years of development, Live & Learn has built passionate and enthusiastic human resources of full-time staff and collaborators with in-depth experience and knowledge in sustainability education and good governance.

Furthermore, the Vietnamese team shares and contributes to the international good practices and quality of the Asia Pacific network of Live & Learn Environmental Education. Through different projects in environment and development and active partnerships with governmental organizations, NGOs, businesses and youth-led groups, Live & Learn Viet Nam has developed new thinking and practice in participatory civic action and mobilization.