October, 19 2013 11:09:31

Climate change solutions lie in nature

Heavy rain and floods affected thousands of people in Cu Lao Dung District, Soc Trang Province. A pilot project on mitigating the impacts of climate change in coastal Southeast Asia proved that nature-based solutions are the key to climate-change adaptation. — VNA/VNS Photo Trung Hieu

SOC TRANG  (VNS) — Pilot projects related to mitigating the impacts of climate change in coastal Southeast Asia have proved that nature-based solutions are the key to climate-change adaptation.

The opinion was voiced by experts at the second Annual Coastal Forum, which ended yesterday in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang.

"Soc Trang and other coastal provinces in Viet Nam have been facing difficulties in applying their new knowledge and experience and lack the funding to do so," Le Thanh Tri, deputy chairman of the Soc Trang People's Committee, said.

"Therefore this forum is a great opportunity for Soc Trang Province to discuss with international organisations, scientists, and national and international administrators and obtain knowledge and experience on climate-change adaptation."

Around 200 delegates representing local communities, government agencies, academia, and NGOs from Cambodia, Thailand, and Viet Nam have gathered for the four-day forum that highlights nature-based solutions.

It is being held under the aegis of the "Building Resilience to Climate Change Impacts in Coastal Southeast Asia" project, which aims to strengthen the capability of local governments and peoples to plan for and adapt to future climate risks, and is funded by the EU.

More than 30 projects tailored to the unique characteristics of each site in eight coastal provinces in Thailand (Chanthaburi and Trat), Cambodia (Koh Kong and Kampot), and Viet Nam (Soc Trang, Can Gio, Kien Giang, and Ben Tre) were carried out in the past two years, the conference heard.

They helped enhance the adaptive capacity of people and the ecosystems on which they depend to cope with the anticipated impacts of climate change and plan for reducing disaster risks.

Recently 10 projects in four provinces were launched in Viet Nam to build community resilience to climate change impacts.

Around US$350,000 is being poured into them.

The scope of work includes growing mangroves, raising awareness, eco-tourism development for poor mangrove-dependent communities, and a switch to fishery, agriculture, and aquaculture.

They will run until December next year.

"These coastal communities in three neighbouring countries are facing similar climate-induced destinies," Dr Robert Mather, head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Southeast Asia, said.

"The reality is they all have to find ways to adapt to live in this changing climate.

"While ‘hard' engineering and infrastructure projects certainly have a role to play in resilience-building, these pilot projects demonstrate that development based on bottom-up planning and ‘soft' solutions provided by natural eco-systems are instrumental in bringing about desired solutions."

Two Mekong provinces, Ben Tre and Soc Trang, are expected to be worst affected by rising sea levels anywhere in the world.

The forum is being organised by the IUCN, the Viet Nam Administration for Seas and Islands, the German Development Cooperation, the Sustainable Development Foundation, and Soc Trang Province. — VNS

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