Climate change report signals urgent need for firm solutions
Director of the Viet Nam-Sweden Programme for Strengthening Environmental Management and Land Administration Truong Quang Hoc explains how Viet Nam has tackled climate change to Viet Nam News.
What is your evaluation of how climate change is likely to effect Viet Nam?
Climate change is a big worry not only for Viet Nam but also the world. The changing themes of World Environment Day show how the responses have become more urgent. In 2007 it was, “Melting Ice: a Hot Topic?” and last year, “CO2, Kick the Habit. Towards a Low Carbon Economy.” This year it’s, “The Planet Needs You – Unite to Combat Climate Change”.
Viet Nam is among the countries likely to be most seriously impacted by climate change and mass urbanisation is making it occur very rapidly here. Inadequate population planning and infrastructure is exacerbating the change while 60 per cent of the country’s cities and provinces are on the coast where environmental change is the most profound.
Climate change has already had critical consequences.
Rising average temperatures with poor living conditions cause air pollution and epidemics of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
More and more victims can be expected to die from heat, disease and pollution because of climate change. More frequent natural calamities have already damaged infrastructure.
How has Viet Nam prepared to combat climate change?
Viet Nam signed the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention in 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol in 1995. The Government has promulgated a series of legal documents for the effective implementation of the international agreements. In late 2008, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung officially ratified the National Climate Change Target Programme that will cost VND1.96 trillion (US$112 million).
International finance and knowledge support measures to cope with climate change have been gradually introduced throughout the country.
Denmark has provided $40 million to support Viet Nam to deal with climate change.
Denmark also supports projects to study the impact of climate change on water resources; the impact of rising sea levels on coastal areas and evaluation of a plan for small-to-medium hydropower plants in northern Lao Cai Province.
The United Nations Development Programme has provided the ministries of Natural Resources and Environment and the Agriculture and Rural Development with $5 million to enhance their capacity to combat climate change.
The Rockefeller Fund has selected Can Tho, Da Nang, Quy Nhon to participate in the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network.
These cities will be helped to cope with climate change, alleviate poverty and deal with rapid urbanisation.
The World Bank has just published a handbook intended to make Ha Noi, Can Tho and Dong Hoi the nation’s first climate-change resilient cities. This practical guide to reducing disaster risk, provides city planners, administrators and communities with a better understanding of climate change.
Urban planning does not exist in most of rural Viet Nam. Is this likely to create difficulties in creating resilience to climate change in cities?
Public awareness of climate change has improved. Each region, each locality has its climate-change scenario and measure to deal with the consequences.
Planners and builders evaluate the effects of climate change for better urbanisation.
The Intergovernmental Climate Change Committee and International Environmental Management Centre research estimates that if the sea rises by one metre almost 5 per cent of Viet Nam’s land will be inundated.
The research shows that 90 per cent of Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta roads will be ruined and 39 of 63 cities and provinces and six of eight economic regions will be affected badly. The estimates are to the Year 2100.
The forecasts emphasise the necessity of more methodical and concrete urban planning and construction and simultaneous socio-economic development that is based on planned land use.
What has SEMLA achieved from almost five years of research?
The programme was developed to contribute to Viet Nam’s programme of Doi Moi (renewal), and to support the sustainable development of natural resources.
Its immediate beneficiaries have been the rural and urban poor.
The programme is designed to strengthening land use-rights and the provisions of land-related services to poor households and mitigate pollution and the degradation of natural resources.
The programme also helps government, national, provincial, district and commune officials develop management capacity.
With $40 million from Sweden, SEMLA has successfully established an effective and efficient system of environmental and natural resource management.
This helps meet the country’s demand for sustainable economic growth for poverty alleviation, natural-disaster control and environmental protection.
The system has been attuned to Public Administration Reform and established an administration that is close to the people. — VNS