Back to News
|Serious efforts are under way to
respond to the impact of climate change in Vietnam but a lack of
capacity and resources remains a challenge, experts say.
Vietnam has been identified as one of 12 countries at highest risk
from climate change and is the most threatened by rising sea levels,
according to World Bank studies.
UN-cited data on global climate change and model studies show that
Vietnam is at increased risk of floods and droughts, saline
intrusion and increased health risks from heat waves, dengue fever
However, experts say the government has acted quickly and is leading
neighbouring countries such as Cambodia and Laos in trying to create
policies to respond to climate change.
The National Target Programme (NTP) was approved by Prime Minister
Nguyen Tan Dung in December 2008, and began implementation last
"Vietnam is to be commended for having pulled this off so quickly,"
Koos Neefjes, policy adviser on climate change at the UN Development
Programme (UNDP) in Vietnam, told IRIN.
Coordinated by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE),
the NTP is intended to help develop an overall climate change
strategy, including goals for adaptation and the mitigation of
greenhouse gas emissions.
The document lays out responsibilities for ministries and government
agencies and asks all cities and provinces to devise their own
climate change action plans by the end of this year, to be
implemented by 2015.
It also aims to assess climate change impacts and ensure assessments
are incorporated into development and investment plans.
Vietnam is home to two major fertile plains, the Mekong Delta and
Red River Delta, key agricultural areas and home to 40 percent of
the country's 86.2 million inhabitants.
They were identified as the most vulnerable areas in a November 2009
government report supported by the UN Environment Programme, which
stated that more than one-third of the Mekong Delta could be
submerged if sea levels rose by 1m.
Nine of the 10 provinces in Vietnam likely to be worst hit are in
the Mekong Delta, but the effects on Ho Chi Minh City could be
Besides hosting potential climate change "refugees" from the Mekong
Delta, infrastructure and housing would be damaged in the city,
energy demands would increase, as would vector-borne diseases,
Vietnam is well-versed in water management because of a history of
disasters such as floods, but there are questions over its capacity
to fully implement policies, they say.
"The policy frameworks are very good. [The problem is] the capacity
in government agencies to pick up on policy commitments. It's not
only skills," said Jeremy Carew-Reid, director of the Australia and
Vietnam based-International Centre for Environmental Management (ICEM)
consultancy. There are possible hurdles in multi-tiered government
with 58 provincial administrations.
"The challenge is to do the planning of the sectors [such as
agriculture] as well as the planning in provinces," said Nguyen Van
Kien, climate change adviser to the UK Department for International
Development (DFID) in Vietnam.
Strong coordination between sectors and effective oversight are
needed at a national level, while capacity, technical expertise and
awareness of climate change varies from ministry to ministry,
according to a UN discussion paper on Vietnam and climate change
released in December 2009.
"Provinces and lower-level authorities must rapidly develop their
action plans to respond to climate change too, which will also
require large-scale awareness raising and capacity-building
efforts," it says.
The government said last month it needed US$3-$5 billion until 2015
to respond to climate change.
"To protect Vietnam's deltas and coastal regions from sea level rise
and related saline water intrusion, large investments in research
and design are needed, followed by investments on an unprecedented
For the NTP, the government is aiming for foreign and private sector
capital to comprise 60 percent of the funds needed for the
However, experts say it will be difficult to attract private sector
funding for adaptation or mitigation measures. Meanwhile, Vietnam
also needs to develop the capacity to access international financing
available for climate change adaptation.
"Vietnam still needs to raise the money itself," said UNDP's Neefjes.
"The high economic growth the country is experiencing is the magic
bullet. Vietnam realizes it will have to rely on itself. If you can
keep the economic growth up, the money will flow in the right