Seeking Breakthrough and Effective Measures to Adapt to Climate Change, Managing Water Resource in the Mekong Delta

On the morning of September 26, 2016, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha, The Vice Head of the Southwest Steering Committee Son Minh Thang, and the Party Committee Secretary of Ca Mau province Duong Thanh Binh co-chaired the conference on climate change adaptation and general management of water resource in the Mekong Delta Region.

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Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, Minister of MONRE Tran Hong Ha, Vice Head of the Southeast Steering Commitee Son Minh Thang, and Ca Mau Party Commitee Secretary Duong Thanh Binh co-chaired the conference on the morning of September 26 in Ca Mau province.

Attending the conference were former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, former Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong, leaders of the Southwest Steering Committee, leaders of ministries/agencies, leaders of Party Committees and the People’s Committees of 13 provinces in the Mekong Delta. The conference was co-organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) – the state management agency on climate change, and the National Standing Committee on Climate Change, in collaboration with the Southwest Steering Committee, Ca Mau Provincial People’s Committee and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Climate change have made evident impacts on the Mekong Delta

In his opening speech, MONRE Minister Tran Hong Ha said that the conference was taken place in the context that climate change has made evident impacts on the people’s lives, the economic, political, and social security conditions of Vietnam in general. Specifically, fresh water shortage, drought, saline intrusion, and coastal erosion are happening at unprecedented large scale and fierce level in the Mekong Delta.

Besides, in the next several months, in mid November, at COP22 scheduled to take place in Morocco, we will discuss plans for fulfilling the signed commitments in the Paris Agreement, of which the Mekong Delta development in the face of climate change challenges is one of the important contents that Vietnam set forth in the implementation of the Paris agreement”, said Ha.

According to Minister Ha, the Mekong Delta has a significant position in the socioeconomic development strategy of Vietnam. Assessed as one of the three largest Deltas in the world, alongside Ganges Delta and Nile Delta, Mekong Delta is a diverse land that embraces hidden secrets of heaven and earth. It used to be a rich land that offered longstanding livelihoods for its inhabitants.

Today, however, any of us seating here can feel the great challenges facing this land by climate change. The Mekong Delta is being endangered the most by climate change”, Ha expressed his concern.

Minister Ha also said the current existing issues facing the region according to climate change scenarios for Ca Mau province in particular and the Mekong Delta in general are coastal erosion, and saline intrusion penetrating deeper inland, etc. In addition, intensified upstream water resource exploitation activities, particularly hydropower exploitation in the main current of Mekong river, have affected the current, directing water running to other basins, thus further exacerbating water resource depletion risk.

This requires strong and legitimate commitments of regional countries in sustainable usage of water resource to tackle trans-border challenges facing the Mekong Delta. In Vietnam, we also need inter-provincial, inter-sector, and inter-regional cooperation mechanisms to limit drawbacks in water resource management and usage”, Minister Ha stressed.

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Minister of MONRE Tran Hong Ha delivered an opening speech at the conference

Intensifying linkage for sustainable development of the Mekong Delta

Minister Ha claimed that with climate change impacts, Mekong Delta today is no longer a rich land that once offered longstanding and favorable livelihoods for its inhabitants for centuries. “Therefore, we have to change our thinking on development. We can not rely on the preferences of nature but on our intelligence, knowledge and technology to develop sustainably, and to turn challenges caused by climate change into opportunities for sustainable development of the Mekong Delta”, Minister Ha proposed.

Quoted a writer, Ha analyzed “For thousands of years, our ancestors clung to the mother land, exploring the land, renovating nature, and creating the  Mekong Delta and wonderful gifts from nature… To proceed our ancestor’s tradition, descendants like us need new thinking on development alongside measures based on master and long-term planning for the region to avoid conflicts of interests between provinces and sub-regions, at the same time harmonizing immediate priorities with long-term objectives for sustainable development of this region…”

Minister Ha asked representatives participated in the conference to focus on some contents include: First, specifically analyze the impacts of climate change and sea level rise on the region. The Mekong Delta must adapt to climate change and saline intrusion, considering it a challenge, and also a development opportunity; adapt to the absence of annual floods, saline intrusion, and lack of fresh water.

Second, clarify climate change adaptation measures. The Mekong Delta has to be proactive in terms of their fresh water; propose specific measures and plans to adapt to climate change including effective implementation of water resource general management.

Third, discuss and give concrete recommendations on effective adaptation models, sustainable livelihoods, and climate resilience. The Mekong Delta needs to change production methods, choosing new alternative development models, particularly saline water, brackish water, and fresh water-based economic development models…

Forth, provinces in the region need to strengthen linkage to develop together, responding to climate change based on master regional socioeconomic development planning.

Fifth, this conference should also discuss project orientation, and measures to mobilize domestic and abroad resources to help the Mekong Delta develop. Programs, and technical constructions in the region should preserve social and cultural works, at the same time applying production mechanisms that prioritize environmental protection and low-carbon emission to ensure sustainable development.

With sentiment and responsibility from each of us to our country in general and to the Mekong Delta in particular, I wish there will be a strong innovation in approaches and thinking on development of the Mekong Delta towards intelligence, eruditeness, and taking knowledge, science and technology as focus in climate change response. I believe speeches, reports, and discussions in this conference will propose plenty of interesting ideas, breakthrough and effective measures to adapt to climate change, sea level rise, and short-term and long-term general management of water resource for the sustainable development of the Mekong Delta”, Minister Ha stressed.

(Translated and re-posted from the website of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment)

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