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A local collector sustainably harvesting Alpinia malaccensis in Viet Nam © Dr Nguyen Tap / TRAFFIC

A local collector sustainably harvesting Alpinia malaccensis in Viet Nam © Dr Nguyen Tap / TRAFFIC

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Published 24th January 2018

FairWild Standard a good fit for new plant laws

Sapa, Viet Nam, 24 January 2018—Representatives from pharmaceutical companies, trading firms, and health and conservation agencies completed a workshop in Sapa today focused on the implementation of new access and benefit-sharing legislation designed to protect Vietnam’s genetic resources.


Use of the FairWild Standard, a best practices framework for verifying the sustainability of wild-harvesting and equitable trade practices, was proposed as a means by which to best implement the law, while ensuring that the country’s plant collection activities meet international standards.

Participants discussed how the FairWild Standard can help with implementation of the new legislation © TRAFFIC

The two-day workshop, co-organised by TRAFFIC and the Ministry of the Environment’s Biodiversity Conservation Agency (BCA), brought together 32 participants to discuss the features of the new law (Decree 59/2017/NĐ-CP). The organisers also disseminated the results of a TRAFFIC-funded study on synergies between the delivery of the Nagoya Protocol, an international agreement on access and benefit sharing, and the FairWild Standard. The study found that adoption of the FairWild Standard could provide valuable support for the new decree, thereby ensuring that the country’s wild medicinal and aromatic plants are harvested in a sustainable manner and that revenue from their development is shared equitably among stakeholders. 

“With a high number of the world’s plant species under threat of extinction, it is more important than ever to invest in the sustainable management of our resources. The adoption of Decree 59/2017/ND-CP has been recognised as a remarkable milestone which completes the existing legislative system. It supports the transformation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation into national law,” said Nguyen Thanh Vinh, deputy director general of BCA. 

“This will directly impact the exploitation and utilisation of genetic resources in Vietnam. The FairWild Standard has provisions for conservation while also aiming to improve the livelihood of local harvesters and that makes it a useful model for future expansion.” 

The decree, passed in May 2017, promotes the conservation and sustainable use of Viet Nam’s genetic resources by regulating the way that they are harvested and who has access to them. It also has stipulations for fair benefit sharing between interested parties and the retention of traditional knowledge of plant use. 

Similar goals can be found within the FairWild Standard, which is an internationally recognised set of principles and criteria created to ensure that wild plants are harvested sustainably, conserving species and allowing for their continued use. The framework also promotes social responsibility, supporting the traditions and cultures of stakeholders and working to raise the standard of living for all involved, especially workers and collectors. 

The Standard is in use in several countries, including India, Poland, and Kazakhstan, and has helped improve traceability and remove extra links in the trade chain, helping benefit locals more directly. In Viet Nam, the FairWild Standard has been implemented in the context of the community resource management in Bac Kan province, within the framework of the UK government’s Darwin Initiative project “Enhancing management and benefit flows in Vietnam’s wild medicinal plant products.”

The promulgation of the decree has been an important turning point in the government’s commitment towards the protection of Viet Nam’s genetic resources. It is extremely important that the legislation is implemented effectively on the ground, and our study has shown that the adoption of the FairWild Standard would be a great help in that regard

Rosa Indenbaum, TRAFFIC’s senior programme officer for sustainable trade“Not only would it ensure that the development of medicinal and aromatic plants follows Vietnamese law, but also that it adheres to international standards, and that local harvesters benefit as they have in other places where FairWild is used.”

The workshop was generously funded by the Darwin Initiative.


About the Darwin Initiative

The Darwin Initiative is a UK government programme with a focus on biodiversity projects.