Environmental impact assessment (EIA), although necessarily focussing on the negative impacts of projects, plans or policies, can also be a tool for quickly assessing impacts and prioritising environ- mental actions. Nowhere is this more effective than in the grassroots context of informal settlements. Worldwide, the number of people living in informal settlements is increasing, including in the rapidly urbanising countries of south-east Asia. The informal settlement at Hue Citadel, Vietnam, a UNESCO world heritage site, grew during the american war in Vietnam in response to displacement and the need for protection from warfare. Temporary accommodation sprung-up behind the historical fortified ramparts and moat and is often the case with informal settlements, once temporarily established it flour- ished. The informal settlement now comprises hundreds of combined residential and business dwellings. without adequate access to clean water, waste management or sanitation, coupled with a lack of infrastructure, the Hue informal settlement has impacted upon the surrounding environment. A resettlement plan has now been implemented by the government which will see residents relocated several kilometres away from the Citadel. Using the Citadel as a case study, this paper considers whether formal EIA could be adapted to rapidly assess the environmental impacts of informal settlements. Based upon the outcomes of this adaptive form of EIA, socio-economic surveys and available scientific literature, consideration could be given as to whether the implementation of an environmental improvement plan might allow people to remain living in an area within which they have strong social and cultural capital.
environmental improvement, hue citadel informal settlement , rapid EIA, relocation for conservation, world heritage
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