The RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies' Blog

Exploiting the potential of developing the CLV Development Triangle

Posted in ASEAN-Canada Partnership by NTSblog on June 14, 2013

The Development Triangle Area comprises of 13 provinces with a total area of 143.9 thousand square kilometers, population of approximately 7 million people (as of 2012) and population density of 48. Interestingly, most provinces share the same natural environment, culture and ethnic groups. Moreover, the Triangle is located in an area that is of economic, political and strategic importance to the three countries.

The CLV Development Triangle has abundant natural resources. It is located in Indochina’s central highlands. Fertile farmlands – up to 600,000 hectares – in this region have received investments for developing industrial tree planting areas, which is seen to be a profitable venture.  However, many fertile farmlands continue to be fallowed, have a lack of water for farming during the dry season and lack suitable cultivation methods.

There is a large area of natural forest with abundant and diverse systems of plants and animals. These forests contain many kinds of valuable wood – high in quality and primary nature reserve wood (total natural area of forest land is about 8.87 million hectares). The area conserves the unique species of flora and animal systems of the various countries and the wider region. Currently, however, indiscriminate exploitation of forest resources – activities such as illegal logging and poaching – have not been closely controlled and managed. Therefore, the benefits of natural forest resource development and genetic code preservation need to be urgently acknowledged and protected.

The CLV Development Triangle is also rich in water resources, including surface water and underground water, as this areas is the source of the major rivers in the three countries. In particular, a characteristic of the headwater river is high watershed slope and large amount of water, which has attracted interests to develop hydropower. Moreover, the groundwater reserve in this area is relatively large and plays an important role in daily serving and production activity needs of inhabitants. However, provinces in Cambodia and Laos have, to date, not utilized hydropower effectively. Electricity networks for local communities are still limited, and many areas still do not even have electricity for lighting. Moreover, there are many shortcomings and limitations in the irrigation systems and groundwater exploitation which support residents’ agricultural and animal husbandry activities.

In addition, there are vast reserves of mineral resources in the area that are untapped – including bauxite, gems, gold, aluminum, zinc, etc – which have attracted the attention of investors. However, the exploitation largely by foreign investors is rampant, spontaneous and has caused serious consequences for the ecology of the region.

Ecotourism and cultural tourism of ethnic minorities is also extremely remarkable here. Unique original culture have been conserved and developed by ethnic groups. Besides, there are many primitive natural conversation areas where have unique biodiversity. However, these potentials have not been seen sufficient investment and development.

Finally, the development triangle has many potential benefits as a base for developing efficient commodity futures market, which would promote socio-economic development and improve residents’ quality of life. However, such potential has so far been utilized spontaneously for planned development purposes. The question is how to not only develop the economic benefits of natural resources, but also maintain the sustainable development of this region in the future.

This blog post has been written by Hoang Thi My Nhi. My Nhi is a PhD candidate at the Vietnam National University, a researcher in the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS), and a  Junior Fellow for 2012 under the ASEAN–Canada Research Partnership.

For more information on the ASEAN–Canada Research Partnership, please click here.


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