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Detailed plans needed to fight off the effects of climate change

Update: September, 04/2014 - 10:02

Climate change is hitting the Mekong Delta much earlier than expected, Phung Duc Tien of the National Assembly Commission of Science and Technology told Thoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economic Times).

Do you think that our climate change scenario in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta will help the people there come up with effective adaptation measures against the sea level rise?

Viet Nam was one of the early signatories to the UN Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. After signing the two documents, the Vietnamese Government issued quite a few documents reflecting Viet Nam's policies and documents in coping with climate change, particularly in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta. The region is expected to be the worst hit region in Viet Nam due to high rises in sea rise levels.

The first document issued was Instruction No 36 on the promotion of environmental protection during the process of national industrialisation. Although the instruction didn't come up with specific tasks about adapting to climate change, it clearly said that climate change was a global issue and would have strong impacts on Viet Nam.

Following this, the Communist Party of Viet Nam issued several documents on adapting to climate change, particularly Resolution 24 of the Party Central Committee (the 11th tenure). The document emphasised the importance of managing natural resources and protecting the environment. It also put Viet Nam's point of view, objectives, key tasks and measures to respond to the phenomenon.

The National Assembly recently sent its first supervisory mission to the Cuu Long to inspect activities to adapt to climate-change. Does that mean the National Assembly only recently showed concern?

That's not correct. In the past few years, to institutionalise the Party's points of view and guidelines, the National Assembly has issued many legal documents to create a legal corridor for these activities.

In particular, at the full house meeting discussing amendments to the 1992 Constitution last year, climate-change was discussed by deputies.

What's about the central and local governments?

By now more than 300 legal documents have been issued, either directly or indirectly relating to climate change. Meanwhile, provincial and city administrations have issued more than 400 documents relating to the subject.

In the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta alone, authorities have issued 89 documents on climate change adaptation. All provinces in the region have developed their own action plans to respond to climate change.

Climate change has been reflected in the 2013 Constitution and more than 700 legal documents. They are principle tools for provinces and cities nation-wide to develop their own plans and actions.

Some people have said that the National Assembly should issue a law on climate change adaptation. What do you think?

I agree that without a specific law on climate change, some difficulties in carrying out activities could arise. But it is not the biggest hurdle. In my opinion, the key factor making our adaptation activities less effective is implementation, not the absence of a legal corridor to enable activities to be carried out more effectively.

Even now, many ministries and sectors have still to develop detailed climate-change plans as well as road maps to compile and issue legal documents on implementing the National Assembly's laws and ordinances and the government's decrees.

Climate change is an inter-ministerial/issue. That's why it is very important to have a smooth legal flow from the Party and Government to local governments and agencies to avoid making gaps in procedures and overlapping in policies.

In practice, climate change impacts have happened much quicker than what has been written in our scenarios. For example, in Ca Mau Province, if we don't take drastic and pro-active measures, in about 10-20 years, the whole province will be submerged, not 50 years as projected earlier.

In addition, the whole Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region will be seriously affected by water discharge from highland hydro-power dams along the Mekong river. — VNS

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