Thu Hue Nguyen
Building leadership and economic empowerment for women and girls in coastal Vietnam.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
In Vietnam, the country’s long coastline is an important driver for the economy and a home for communities who make their living on fishing and other natural resources. But the marine ecosystems on which the lives and livelihoods of coastal communities depend, especially small-scale households, are vulnerable to climate risks. All too often, aggressive economic development projects take over the land, sometimes forcing vulnerable citizens to move and adapt to a different ecosystem, and threaten the long-term health of the coastal ecosystem.
MCD leads collaborative solutions that allow local economies to benefit from tourism and business while supporting the livelihood of residents and the future of the environment. Over 1-3 years of a regular project cycle, MCD works with a given community to understand the environmental pressures and challenges. They foster dialogue and collaboration between local decision makers, citizens, government entities, and companies, helping stakeholders contribute their own self-interest to design solutions that leave everyone better off. Thu Hue Nguyen sees leadership and mentorship as critical to accelerate co-management of fisheries and resources in Vietnam’s coastal areas. She leads efforts supporting these smaller community stakeholders, especially women and girls, to play roles in conserving resources and promoting their economic empowerment. MCD’s early success in preserving Trao Reef, a local marine protected area, has been replicated in other provinces, and their work has led to broad recognition of the role of community members, including their legal right to co-manage fisheries. MCD’s approach serves as a model for navigating the human-centered complexities of environmental conservation.
With extensive practical field experience in multi-stakeholder engagement and building local capacity, MCD has made meaningful contributions to enhanced local community position in partnerships for coastal resource management and provided recommendations in various national level policies. Highlights include the national action plans on climate change responses, marine plastic waste management, and co-management of aquatic resources. Experiences and successful approaches from MCD’s project implementation have also been disseminated widely to partners and the public.
How her leadership evolved over the two-year Fellowship:
The Fellowship has provided me with vision and skills to be a better version of myself in a shared leadership, taking my organization to the next level of development.