Vietnamese national planning institution translates Plan Bothnia

16/10/2013 at 10:17 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In May 2013 the HELCOM Secretariat received an unexpected email from Vietnam, asking for permission to translate the book “Planning the Bothnian Sea” to Vietnamese. The book, the final report of a HELCOM-led project on planning the future of the offshore Bothnian Sea, a part of northern Baltic Sea situated between Åland Islands and the Quark (Umeå-Vasa), had been released a year earlier. The initiative has been part of HELCOMs efforts to develop transboundary ecosystem based maritime spatial planning (MSP) in the region in cooperation with VASAB, another regional organization.

Even if the book had already received international recognition for its substance and particularly for its design, most of the attention so far had been European. We were charmed by this sudden overseas interest and naturally replied positively.

Five months later, in October 2013, we were quite astonished when we received an email with a complete Vietnamese version of the book. Every single word and graph on the 153 original pages had been meticulously translated. The effort and devotion that our distant colleagues had spent on our publication exceeded all our expectations. Find the Vietnamese version of “Planning the Bothnian Sea” here.

Plannning the Bothnian Sea VIETNAMESE Cover

After the initial excitement had worn off we quickly developed a curiosity on the purpose behind the translation. To find out more we decided to ask one of the Vietnamese translators, Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Hai, some questions about why they thought it worthwhile to make the book, about planning in a far-away northern sea, available also to Vietnamese readers.

Here are his answers:

Who are you and where do you work?

My name is Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Hai and I am the Deputy Director of Department of Sustainable Development and Response to Climate Change at the Development Strategy Institute (DSI), under the Ministry of Planning and Investment of Vietnam.

Our offices are in central Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, on 65 Văn Miếu street –just across the street from the Temple of Literature, which was considered as the first national university in Vietnam.

How are your tasks related to Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)? Why and how is Vietnam working with MSP?

The main duty of my Institute, DSI, is to make socio-economic master plans and national strategy for the whole territory of Vietnam for the 10-year period, recently including also sea areas. MSP is considered as a part of this socio-economic master planning. MSP is a new tool in Vietnam and we are currently developing our own approach to planning at sea, both from a practical and a theoretical point of view. Moreover, my institute was assigned to build the Vietnamese marine strategy up to 2020. So, your material is necessary for my Institute as a reference, especially for the next update of it.

How did get to know the project Plan Bothnia and the book “Planning the Bothnian Sea”?

This happened completely by accident -at a short course in Sweden on strategic environmental assessment (SEA) supported SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency). Mr. Jan Schmidtbauer-Crona from the Swedish Water and Marine Management Agency (SWAM) gave me the book after his presentation on SEA and MSP.

Why did you want to translate the book?

At the course in Sweden I realized that “Planning the Bothnian Sea” could be good reference for our national MSP work in Vietnam -and decided to translate it to Vietnamese. Translation was necessary so that also those without good English skills can read the text.

How long did it take to translate it? What was the biggest challenge doing it?

It took me and my colleague Pham Minh Hien around two months to translate the book. I did not have any great troubles in translating, except in the case of some abbreviated words in the Annex.

How do you intend to use it?

I will publish the Vietnamese version on DSI’s website. In this way everyone in Vietnam has the possibility to study the Plan Bothnia initiative and its methodology.

What is the most important lesson you learnt from the book?

I think several features of the MSP presented in the book are interesting. First of all, it is an example of plan making using an ecological approach. Secondly, it highlights that this kind of MSP becomes reality only when participating countries have same purpose and will. Overall it presents to us valuable European experiences in carrying out MSP. Me and my colleagues hope that in the future we can use the Plan Bothnia experiences in a Vietnamese MSP context.

Did you know HELCOM or MSP cooperation in the Baltic Sea before you translated the book? Do you have international cooperation on MSP with your neighboring countries in your sea areas, and how does it work?

I knew a little bit about HELCOMs work in the Baltic Sea before translating but the picture is much clearer now. Until now I or my Institute has not had any international cooperation concerning MSP with our neighboring countries. It seems MSP cooperation needs to be promoted more in our own region.

Nguyen Ngoc Hai

Pham Minh Hien

Pictures: Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Hai (left), Mr. Pham Minh Hien (right)

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