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Integrated & Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment of Port Developments in the Vung Tau Area (S-Vietnam)

Research project BL/V/03 (Research action BL)

Contract BL/00/V03 :

Duration of the contract :


Partners :

  • National Centre for Natural Science and Technology Vietnam 
  • Soresma nv – haecon, Ghent 
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel 

Description :

Context and objectives

The cities of Ho Chi Minh, Bien Hoa and Vung Tau in Southern Vietnam are located in one of the fastest growing and developing areas of the country. Many infrastructure works such as ports and industries are linked to these economic developments of the area. They are, however, also located close to one of the largest natural river and mangrove systems. Each of these infrastructures, facilies and industries was developed after an assessment of their (individual) potential environmental impacts. However, none of them were evaluated in an integrated and global framework of environmental decision making.

In this respect, a strategic environmental assessment was conducted to assess the integrated and cumulative impacts of actual and future port developments on the society, economics and environment. Therefore, the following objectives were aimed for: (i) evaluation of the available master plan for port developments, (ii) evaluation of the present state of socio-economics and environment (cf. environmental impact statements), (iii) integrated impact assessment, and (iv) strategic environmental assessment on the port developments.

The ultimate goal of the project was a ranking of port development plan alternatives according to their sustenance towards socio-economics and environmental protection. An operational framework for environmental sustainable analysis of a given seaport development strategy was provided to the decision maker.


Evaluation of the most recent master plan for port developments
• Environmental impact statements of the following topics: air quality, noise pollution, water resources, land resources, fauna and flora, socio-economics, safety, health and monuments.
The analysis is based on conducted measurements of water quality and sediment quality, acquired SPOT spatial images for land use change analysis, questionnaires completed by stakeholders and existing literature
• Integrated impact assessment: development of a Leopold impact matrix to identify the magnitude and importance of impacts, and to set up mitigation actions
• Strategic environmental assessment, including (i) a definition of port development plan alternatives, (ii) stakeholder definition, (iii) selection and quantification of decision criteria (based on the Leopold matrix), (iv) public participation to weight the decision criteria, and (v) sustainability ranking of port development scenarios.


Notwithstanding, the environmental impact statements revealed different societal and environmental issues in the study area. They are all related to the bad water quality, sediments polluted with heavy metals, large solid waste production, decreasing mangrove area, urbanisation with related traffic issues, dust emissions etc…
Not only determined the Leopold impact matrix (cf. integrated impact assessment) the most important impacts to consider as decision criteria in the strategic environmental assessment, it also allowed to set up crucial mitigation measures to minimise adverse societal, economic and environmental impacts from port developments.
To obtain a ranking of the proposed port development plan alternatives (with the most sustainable or preferred scenario at the top), multi criteria decision making techniques were applied. Here, the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) method was selected. AHP inherently accounts for public participation and different scenarios in the decision making process. The results indicated that port developments balance the economic benefits and negative environmental impacts in a sustainable way. Economic developments are considered as desirable by the stakeholders. However, from a sensitivity analysis it became clear that in total three port scenarios could be opted for by the decision maker, the further port developments in the Phu My area or the Vung Tau/Dinh river area, or the full implementation of the master plan by 2020. Further analysis of the results finally suggested phase-based port developments with the continuous monitoring of the environmental quality, which should result in truly sustainable developments with a broad level of public acceptance (i.e. stakeholders, potential end-users and decision makers).

Documentation :

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