New paper on demand reduction

Anh Vu has published a new paper in World Development explaining why external conservation NGO campaigns often do not work effectively


The demand side of illegal wildlife trade (IWT) has received increasing academic, media, and policy attention for its powerful potential to address the biodiversity extinction crisis. The article contributes to this emerging literature by analysing demand reduction campaigns for illegally traded wildlife in Vietnam, a country that has been named and shamed by transnational conservation elites as one of key perpetrators of species loss across Africa. Conspicuous consumption of ‘rare’ and ‘prestige’ wildlife by the wealthy and nouveaux riches of Vietnam has been identified as a principal factor threatening the survival of many wild species. Accordingly/not surprisingly, significant amounts of donor and government money have been channelled to consumer-targeted interventions and campaigns in that country.

My study shows that these campaigns have limited effects because they are a form of ‘ungrounded’ environmentalism. The article advances the scholarly debate on IWT demand reduction interventions by demonstrating that the ungrounded environmentalism typical of these campaigns is problematic and risks deepening historical stereotypes and cultural misrepresentations. As social beings, consumers are deeply embedded within long-standing socio-cultural, political and institutional contexts, therefore it is essential that consumer-targeted campaigns are be informed and underpinned by these dynamics, especially in authoritarian contexts such as Vietnam. The article offers a novel theoretical contribution to literature on environmental politics by focusing on the conceptual lens of ‘ungrounded’ environmentalism to demand-side campaigning, and testing its utility by applying it to the specific case of Vietnam.

You can read the whole paper here