The Vietnamese Mekong River Delta (MRD) is the region through which the Mekong River enters the East Sea of Vietnam. The delta, with a total area of four million hectares, has nearly 18 million inhabitants (about 22% of the entire population of Vietnam) and is host to a range of agricultural land-uses: including rice, fruit trees, annual industrial crops, aquaculture and forestry.
It has now been recognized that the MRD is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, particularly sea level rise and severe floods and impacts have and will continue to go far beyond the coping strategies of local communities. Meanwhile, infrastructure developments in the MRD supporting the intensification of land and water resources have created their own trans-boundary environmental impacts. While these impacts have now been recognized, and have influenced the negotiation of regional policy agreements and cooperation among Mekong delta provinces, there is still more that needs to be done.
On the 20th June 2014, the Can Tho Climate Change Coordination Office (CCCO) hosted a regional workshop, where participants from 12 provinces across the MRD had the opportunity to learn about how the CCCO—with the help of the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-International (ISET-International)—has built climate resilience in the region. The CCCO was established in 2011 with support from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN). The CCCO is responsible for developing and coordinating all climate change adaptation and mitigation projects in the city, in collaboration with external agencies and local stakeholders.
The workshop focused on the importance of better integration of planning across sectors at the provincial level and the growing need to incorporate community knowledge and experience into planning.
There were over 70 participants in attendance, including the Vice-Chairman of Can Tho City People’s Committee, Mr. Dao Anh Dung, who shared with the group:
“The establishment of the CCCO is one of the biggest successes of Can Tho city in responding to climate change. With financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation, and the significant support of ISET-International and the National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategy Studies (NISTPASS), CCCO Can Tho actively developed a plan to adapt to climate change for multiple sectors, at all levels; implementing intervention projects in various areas such as environment, water, health, construction to build resilience to climate change in urban areas”.
Participants at the workshop were also given the opportunity to discuss broader issues affecting the MRD. The discussion focused on the issue of while there are a range of national policies and provincial guidelines for planning and implementation of climate change adaptation, these are often carried out separately for different sectors and provinces. Participants agreed that this makes it difficult to integrate and resolve particular issues related to regional and inter-regional problems.
Moving forward, climate change resilience must include the collaboration and efforts of various sectors and stakeholders. Now more so than ever, participation and support of shared-learning forums such as that hosted by CCCO Can Tho is necessary for enabling continuing dialogues on climate change issues.
Posted by Huy Nguyen and Danielle Cleal, ISET-Vietnam