Viet Nam’s response to climate change

Dec 4, 2007

Viet Nam - Climate change has had a negative impact on nearly all sectors of Viet Nam’s economy, from agriculture, forestry, aquaculture as well as hydro-electric power, oil and gas production and sea transport, said experts at the launch of the UNDP Human Development Report 2007/2008 in Ha Noi on November 28. This year's report warns that poor people in developing countries will be those most vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

The effects of climate change on Viet Nam

In 2007 alone, storms and floods have left huge human and property losses. In recent days, high tides have destroyed many dyke sections in Ho Chi Minh City, damaging many farms, aquaculture areas and houses. Thousands of people in the areas hit by floods and storms are facing a very difficult life.

A study by Viet Nam Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment says that Viet Nam is now already suffering from climate change with annual average temperature increase of around 0.1 degrees Celsius per decade and a rise in sea level of 2.5-3 cm over the past decade.

The institute says heavy rainfall hits the country more frequently in some areas, causing severe floods, while rainfall has decreased in almost all areas in the country, creating drought conditions. In addition, storms occur more frequently in the central and southern regions.

Speaking at the yesterday’s launch, Natural Resources and Environment Deputy Minister Nguyen Cong Thanh said that climate change is not only an environmental issue but also a development issue.

“It largely affects the socio-economic development of all nations and all efforts for human social development are in danger of being ruined because of climate change,” he said.

Warnings from international experts

On the basis of global climate change and the losses caused by natural disasters in Viet Nam, international experts warned that as many as 22 million Vietnamese people, especially those living in the central and southern regions, could be displaced if the sea level rises by an additional 1m.

“It is a very important message for the Vietnamese government, as their economy is growing, to focus on adaptation and mitigation on a broader environmental side but also particularly the impact of climate change,” said UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam, John Hendra.

He said that the UNDP report “Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world” could be an important reference for Viet Namese policy makers in integrating climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies into the overall socio-economic plan in the national strategy.

UNDP Viet Nam Country Director Setsuko Yamazaki also warned that with its long coastline, Viet Nam is vulnerable to the catastrophic effects of climate change, and as a result, the country should brace itself for more floods and storms in coming years.

Deputy Resident Representative of the UNDP, Christopher Bahuet, said that “Viet Nam needs to have long-term strategy and vision as well as great determination to deal with climate change.

His suggestion is that Viet Nam should take strong measures at three levels: supporting the disaster-prone localities to adapt and respond to climate change, building both national and local action plans and improving the mechanism’s capabilities.

Meanwhile, UN Development Programme Senior Adviser Koos Neefjes said UN agencies will continue their support to increasing institutional capacity building, improving community-level practical support in disaster mitigation, energy efficiency and limiting greenhouse gases in agriculture.

He also suggested Viet Nam reconsider its future energy mix and reduce the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels, increase high-efficiency and low-impact green technologies, and improve the level of forest cover.

Viet Nam’s action

Climate change is becoming a global issue that should be addressed urgently by all countries and Viet Nam has taken a number of measures on adapting to climate change adaptation.

Being aware of the serious impact of climate change, Viet Nam signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in June 1992 and ratified it on November 16, 1994, and ratified the Kyoto protocol on September 25, 2002.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has carried out many projects on how to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Currently, it is studying climate change scenarios and building a national strategy to address the phenomenon.

The weather forecasting system has been upgraded, bringing about positive results as the recent storms were correctly forecast, helping localities carry out necessary control plans and reduce losses.

Regarding international co-operation in dealing with climate change, United Nations representatives said Viet Nam can play an important role in the global fight against climate change.

“Viet Nam is now increasing its international standards following accession to the World Trade Organisation,” said UN Resident Co-ordinator in Viet Nam, John Hendra, adding that the Viet Namese delegation to the Bali climate change conference in December is expected to contribute to the creation of a new multilateral framework for reducing carbon emissions.

During the past 15 years, Viet Nam has enjoyed outstanding progress in terms of human development. However, climate change is posing as a real danger against the country’s growth targets and people’s living conditions.

Climate change is unavoidable and it requires Viet Nam to avoid the unmanageable, take concerted action and manage the unavoidable so as to ensure sustainable development.

By KHAI HOAN (Nhan dan Online)

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