Government, ODA and sustainable development : their linkages and the case of Vietnam : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Phylosophy [i.e. Philosophy] in Development Studies at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Sustainable development, the role of government, and ODA are three major concerns in Development Studies. Sustainable development is an interest that has recently emerged but has become quickly and widely accepted in the field as a desirable vision for the future of humankind. It affects the rationale and redefines the responsibilities of both government and ODA. Government has two interrelated roles in development: a sovereign regulator and a powerful developmental actor. ODA is a means through which governments and external agencies interact in the development field. This present thesis articulates an integrated perspective to sustainable development and applies it to discuss major issues of government, ODA, and especially their developmental roles. The aim of this thesis is to contribute to the debate on the role of government in making ODA work for sustainable development. Its arguments and recommendations are confined to the case of Vietnam – an aid recipient country in transition. In general, it is found that the donor and recipient governments play very important roles in making ODA work for sustainable development due to three reasons. First, they are essential for sustainable development as both necessary and irreplaceable regulator and powerful developmental actors. Second, ODA is not automatically, but is potentially, helpful for sustainable development. Last but not least, the governments have decisive roles in affecting the volume, scope, scale, and effectiveness of ODA resources and activities. In the particular case of Vietnam, the role of the government in the ODA - sustainable development link is momentous because it is presently the major force that overwhelmingly influences the direction and controls significant shares of resources and activities of development (in comparison with the private sector) in the country. For ODA to work for sustainable development in Vietnam, the key recommendations are that, firstly, the government needs to improve its administrative ability, especially its ability in ODA management, and maintain its national independence in making development decisions on behalf of the people. At the same time, the government needs to put sustainable development as the goal for all of its development planning and intervention activities in order to establish the foundation for cooperating with the donor community, integrating ODA resources into the country's total resources for sustainable development and facilitating ODA to best supplement the sustainable development process of Vietnam. Last but not least, the government has to act more carefully and effectively in utilizing ODA resources to intervene into the society and the economy in order to ensure all the productive potential is released and all the latent possibilities of all components of the economy and the society are developed in a sustainable manner.