It was great to see almost 30 UCR-CoP participants get together for the final UCR-CoP event of 2014 to discuss flood management issues in the urban planning and development process in Vietnam. On Monday, November 24, participants met at the office of the Associations of Cities of Vietnam to listen to three insightful presentations offering practical lessons for urban development and planning, in the face of climate change. Participants from nearly 15 organizations (made up of academia, private sector, local and national government and international organizations) from throughout Vietnam (Hanoi, Da Nang, Hue, Binh Dinh and Ha Tinh) also had the opportunity to engage in discussions about the urban planning and development process in Vietnam, its impacts on flood management, and how methods and tools could better feed into the planning and policy decisions at both the local and national levels. The section below presents a snapshot of each of the presentations including a summary of the discussions that followed:
Flood modeling for urban planning decisions in central Vietnam – presented by Dr. Phong Tran (ISET)
Dr. Phong shared with participants the results of a recent flood-modeling project that assessed flood levels and the flood drainage capacity of Da Nang under different climate change and urbanization scenarios. The results of the model revealed that there are many issues related to the current urban development plan of Da Nang City, highlighting that if urban development in low-lying floodplains was to proceed, in the context of climate change it may:
- exacerbate flooding;
- alter flood patterns;
- destroy local assets and livelihoods;
- reduce land prices and attraction for investors; and
- create a range of other issues for the current and future generations of Da Nang.
Dr. Phong discussed that a large challenge that is often faced by researchers is getting the support of decision-makers to incorporate research findings into future planning decisions. Dr. Phong noted for this project they successfully overcame this challenge, by strategically involving relevant decision-makers and technical partners from the beginning of the project. As a result of this early collaboration, the project succeeded in promoting practical change, with the government making modifications to the Da Nang Urban Master Plan until 2030 with vision to 2050, based on the results of the model and the associated recommendations. During the discussion it was raised that while the model is just one of many tools that could be used to inform urban development, this project has also helped decision-makers understand they can no longer continue carrying out urban development in a conventional way.
The “Da Nang Hydrology and Urban Development Simulation Model” was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation under the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) program. The project ran for over two years through to June 30, 2013, and was implemented by the Da Nang Department of Construction (DOC), CCCO Da Nang and the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-International.
Cost-benefit analysis in urban development, from the Da Nang Alternative Development Pathways Project – presented by Dr. Tran Huu Tuan, Hue University of Economics
Dr. Tuan’s presented the results of a cost-benefit analysis of three different measures designed to build climate change resilience in Da Nang City: raising the elevation of houses, raising road elevation and upgrading the city’s early warning system.
Dr. Tuan demonstrated to participants that the cost-benefit analysis (expressed in terms of reduced or avoided damages) showed that all three measures are not only economically beneficial, but the economic benefit is also likely to increase with flood intensity, which according to Vietnam climate change scenarios is likely to be the case, with flood levels expected to increase in intensity in the coming decades. The results of the study opened up a range of questions among participants as to what are the optimal and feasible soft and hard measures that cities and households can apply to be more resilient to future floods, given that many areas are already half built or complete and that it is impossible to erase what had been done in the past. While no solutions were put forward, it was recommended that future cost benefit analysis should look beyond the physical or tangible values and also include the social, financial, managerial, and institutional facets of resilience.
The Alternative Development Pathways Project is funded by The Rockefeller Foundation, implemented by ISET in coordination with the Hue University and Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG), India .
Initial findings of the causes and effects of urban development in floodplain areas – Mr. Nguyen Thanh Tung, Hue Planning Institute
Mr. Tung presented the findings of a case study looking at the impacts of flooding on a new urban area, An Van Duong, in Thua Thien Hue province. An Van Duong was originally an area of vast low-lying paddy fields, however in recent years it has been developed into an urban area. The study examined the affects of two historic flood events in 2009 and 2013 on the area of An Van Duong. Mr. Tung shared with participants the results of the study, which highlighted three key factors that led to the intensification of flooding in An Van Duong during these flood events: intense rainfall, the failure of the hydropower reservoir and the altered landscape, as a result of urbanization.
During discussions, participants agreed that policy-makers and urban planners face significant challenges in making practical and strategic decisions – in the context of future uncertainties and economic trade-offs. Participants discussed how these challenges are present in all decision-making processes – whether it is when making a decision about the elevation of a building or considering the design of a new urban development area.
This presentation is the result from “Reducing Climate Risks from Peri-Urban Development in Vietnamese Cities” project, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, implemented by ISET in coordination with CCCO in Can Tho, Binh Dinh, Da Nang, and Thua Thien Hue provincial People’s Committee.
Copies of the presentations from the event are now available on the events page of the UCR-Cop website. The meeting minutes will be shared with all UCR-CoP participants in the coming week. As a co-facilitator of the UCR-CoP, ISET again thanks all those who attended for their enthusiastic contributions.
We look forward to continuing to work with you in 2015. If you would like to continue these exciting discussions, please leave your comments below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re eager to hear your suggestions and ideas related to these topics.
Tho Nguyen and Danielle Cleal, ISET