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Its more than 3,260km of coastline and its low-lying mainland delta areas mean the country is especially vulnerable to the worst repercussions of climate change rising sea levels.
Nguyen Van Cu, General Director of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Vietnam Administration of Seas and Islands, said projections warn sea levels could rise 0.75-1m by the end of 21st century. This means 40 percent of the Mekong Delta region would be submerged and 11 percent of Red River region’s cultivatable land would disappear.
Climate change and sea level rises will directly affect the living conditions of coastal citizens, up to 12 percent of the entire Vietnamese population. Damages caused by climate change could wipe 10-12 percent from the national GDP.
The following is an excerpt from VOV’s interview with Nguyen Van Cu on the issue.
The Vietnamese Government has developed a national target program to respond to climate change and sea level rises and began implementing a series of specific solutions for coastal citizens to ameliorate the risks to their livelihoods. These include building and upgrading sea and river dykes, developing subsistence models tailored to coastal localities, and selecting appropriate plants and animals for especially low-lying coastal areas. A number of programs and projects from now with a view to 2020 have been developed for sectors and localities
VOV: Many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) join hands with citizens to cope with climate change and sea level rises. What’s your evaluation of their contributions in recent times?
Mr Cu: Together with the Government and social organisations, NGOs are helping to improve subsistence before the issue becomes more serious.
A typical example is the Centre for Marine Life Conservation and Community Development (MCD). It was set up in 2003 with the aim of supporting coastal citizens and protecting the coastal ecosystem-especially special ecosystems like Ramsar and mangrove areas.
MCD gathered a large number of domestic and foreign scientists to work on helping coastal citizens improve coastal community livelihoods.
VOV: How do local people and authorities respond to climate change?
I think that citizens realise the potential impacts of climate change and sea level rises on their living conditions and socio-economic development. Traditional cultivation methods could be rendered obsolete. Salt water penetrates deeply and water shortages, serious droughts, and floods could occur. Gradual sea level rises also create seriously damaging landslides.
Some local leaders have yet to properly grasp the threat posed by climate change. Many people simply consign it to the future.
To raise awareness, more seminars and training courses should be held.
VOV: What measures have been devised to help improve public awareness on climate change and sea level rises?
Mr Cu: The Government has launched project 373 to disseminate on sustainable sea and island development.
We implemented 11 sub-projects working closely with localities to build data, publish informative posters and guidelines, and organise training courses on coping with climate change and sea level rises.
VOV: How will management agencies, especially the General Department of Vietnam Sea and Islands, work with localities to improve public awareness on climate change?
Mr Cu: In addition to closely coordinating with ministries, departments, localities, and non-governmental organisations, the general department has urged its chapters to fulfill their assigned roles.
First, they must effectively implement the Management Marine Coastline National Program in the north-central and south-central coastal provinces before extending it north and south.
Second, the department will help localities establish groups formed by local youth to disseminate information on using natural resources efficiently and protecting sea and island environments. The long term, Vietnam should legislate the responsibility of citizens for protecting the nation’s coastal environment.
VOV: Thank you very much.