National Strategy on Climate Change Adaptation

Wednesday, 2017-02-01 14:37:45
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Youth Union members plant mangroves in Vinh Thinh commune, Hoa Binh district, Bac Lieu province. (Photo: Phan Thanh Cuong)
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NDO - What should Vietnam do to mitigate climate change and its negative impact on society and the national economy? Nhan Dan Newspaper reporters have recently interviewed Professor and Doctor of Science Truong Quang Hoc from Vietnam National University; Dr Le Minh Nhat from the Department of Meteorology, Hydrology and Climate change under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment; and Sumaiya Kabir, an expert from UN Women Vietnam to find out some answers.

Q: Climate change is occurring even faster than first predicted. What is your opinion about this?

Prof. Dr. Truong Quang Hoc: Although the fight against climate change has taken place for over 20 years already, with 21 annual meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change held, greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere continue to increase and climate change continues to take place on a global scale.

In Vietnam, droughts and saltwater intrusion in the central region, the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta in the first half of 2016 was considered the most severe and unprecedented in history, causing damages estimated at over VND15 trillion; Typhoon Mirinae in 2016 caused damages of more than VND3,400 billion in the Red River Delta provinces; in addition to flooding in the provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien - Hue, Binh Dinh and Phu Yen; flooding and landslides also occurred in Yen Bai and Lao Cai; flooding and high tides were experienced in Ho Chi Minh City, along with many other impacts seen as a direct result of climate change.

According to climate change scenarios, if sea levels rise by one metre at the end of the 21st century, then about 39% of the Mekong Delta, 11% of the Red River Delta, and 3% of other coastal provinces will be submerged underwater. Vietnam’s largest economic hub – Ho Chi Minh City will see one fifth of its acreage covered by water in this scenario, and total economic losses have been predicted to reach 10% of the national GDP. If sea levels rise by three metres, about 25% of the Vietnamese population will be directly impacted by climate change.

Dr Le Minh Nhat: Climate change leads to temperature rises, changes in average seasonal rainfalls and yearly average, climate extremes (mean maximum and minimum temperatures, number of hottest days in a year, highest daily rainfall) and sea level rises in coastal areas.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has recently updated the national climate change and sea level rise scenario and devised measures to cope with salt water intrusion in the Mekong Delta. The scenario was updated based on global warming scenarios at different levels according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s new approach, which are RCP8.5, RCP6.0, RCP4.5 and RCP2.6. The scenarios were expanded to include forecasts for each locality and coastal area throughout each decade of the 21st century to help implement the action plan in an effective manner.

Sumaiya Kabir: The UN, especially UN Women have paid much attention to issues related to climate change and natural disasters. Vietnam is among countries most vulnerable to climate change. Moreover, many people in Vietnam are working in the agricultural sector and often suffer due to severe impacts caused by natural disasters, such as floods and droughts.

Q: The livelihoods of people living in disaster-prone areas remains a great concern. What should be done?

Prof. Dr. Truong Quang Hoc: This is a very complex problem. We should be “Living with climate change”, similar to the way people in the Mekong Delta provinces are “Living with Floods”, and seeking opportunities among risks in accordance with the global strategy of “Harmony with Nature”.

Accordingly, some solutions can be mentioned such as helping people to develop and expand livelihood models capable of adaptation or resilience to climate change, ensuring social security in the conditions of each locality, especially in disaster-prone areas. In the long run, there should be synchronous policies in terms of planning, including land use planning, zone planning and population planning. More attention should be paid to providing information and raising awareness on climate change, especially among vulnerable groups.

Dr. Le Minh Nhat: Currently, a trend of livelihood development is “Livelihood Adaptation” which focuses on resilience to climate change, greenhouse gas emission mitigation and recovery from the impacts of climate change while ensuring, maintaining and even increasing productivity, in line with the socio-economic conditions in each area. In addition, it is also necessary to actively respond to natural disasters and strengthen supervision on climate change, modernise monitoring systems and technologies for meteorological forecasts in order to ensure early warnings and forecasts of weather phenomena as well as build a monitoring and assessment system for climate change and sea level rise; build plans for socio-economic development and develop infrastructure based on climate change scenarios, with a focus on key sectors and regions.

Sumaiya Kabir: It is highly necessary to discover appropriate methods of production and husbandry, for example, people working in the agriculture sector need to find rice varieties tolerant to droughts and flooding. There should be better preparation and forecasting to cope with disasters. It is also needed to create appropriate jobs people, especially women living in affected areas. Furthermore, women should be actively involved in planning and building programmes on climate change response at all levels and sectors.

In addition, Vietnam also needs to develop green and environmentally friendly industry with a focus on clean energy use and recycling technologies.

Q: It is evident that economic losses due to climate change are huge. What should be done to reduce the damage caused by the impact of climate change?

Prof. Dr. Truong Quang Hoc: Vietnam needs to implement two separate tasks: reducing the damage caused by climate change at the same time as taking advantage of the opportunities that climate change can bring about, and reducing causes of climate change (greenhouse gas emissions).

An important task that can be mentioned here is to organise two strategic plans: a plan to implement the recently adopted Paris Agreement on climate change and the National Action Plan for the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which is being submitted to the National Assembly for approval. The content of the two plans should be integrated into the strategies and development programmes of ministries, branches and localities across the country.

Dr. Le Minh Nhat: Vietnam should actively carry out activities to adapt to climate change and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions; promote the monitoring and evaluation of climate change adaptation activities by 2030; as well as ensure that at least 90% of the planning, and socio-economic development plans have the contents related to disaster risk management and adaptation to climate change.

Sumaiya Kabir: I found that a number of socio-economic development programmes of the Vietnamese Government have taken into account the building of appropriate infrastructure in disaster-prone areas. Some proper relocation plans have been devised for flood-prone areas. However, local administration should be more proactive in preventing natural disasters to minimize losses. More attention should also be paid to promptly supporting families that have lost loved ones due to natural disasters. In addition, it is necessary to continue carrying out projects on community-based natural disaster management and environmental protection.

Thank you very much!