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VN hopes to engage coastal communities in climate fight

Update: September, 13/2013 - 08:00
By 2014, approximately 20 ha of mangroves were planted around the Con Te area, Huong Phong Village, Huong Tra District in Thua Thien Hue Province.— Photo baothuathienhue

by Hoang Nam

HOI AN (VNS)— Efforts to protect coastal regions for people and the environment are crucial in building the resilience of communities, international experts said at the 10th Regional Steering Committee of the Mangroves for the Future (MFF) held in the central coastal city of Hoi An on Wednesday.

"Viet Nam acknowledges MFF's emphasis on regional sharing of lessons and the collective efforts needed to tackle coastal issues," said Pham Ngoc Son, deputy administrator of the Viet Nam Administration of Seas and Islands (VASI) in his opening speech on behalf of the Vice Minister of Viet Nam's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

"We are committed in our efforts and look forward to increased participation in MFF's activities to ensure that coastal communities in Viet Nam are resilient to climate related impacts," he added.

This is the first time Viet Nam has hosted the meeting since becoming a MFF member country in 2010. More than 100 representatives from nine member countries attended the meeting.

MFF is a regional initiative working to address climate change and developmental effects on Asia's coasts as well as coastal dwellers.

"We need to come to grips with the implications of these dangerous trends and introduce effective ways to manage our natural resources, while also allowing economic growth and securing better lives for coastal communities. This is the reason we focus our resilience initiatives on prevention and planning rather than response," MFF Coordinator Steen Christensen said.

He also applauded the Vietnamese Government for its efforts in coastal ecosystem management.

With more than 3,260km of coastline, 3,000 inshore islands and two offshore archipelagos, Viet Nam has an important role to play in protecting Asia's coasts.

Over the past three years, Viet Nam has been a very active participant in MFF, with more than 15 grants awarded to community-based projects that have helped to protect rich coastal resources.

The MFF Initiative has invested nearly US$1 million in coastal rehabilitation and livelihoods projects in Viet Nam since 2010.

Begun in 2007, the initiative works through National Coordinating Bodies in member countries to provide grants for local project delivery and other activities building resilience of ecosystem-dependent coastal communities.

The initiative is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).

It is co-chaired by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Current member countries include Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam.

MFF activities in Viet Nam range from helping coastal communities improve their incomes through sustainable mangrove-based farming systems in Mekong Delta Ben Tre Province to engaging local people in the management of the Xuan Thuy National Park, while also giving them access to the park's natural resources.

All over the world, and especially in Asia where 60 per cent of the population lives in coastal zones, human activities are increasingly contributing to the vulnerability of coastal communities. This is being exacerbated by climate change.

MFF activities underpin the vital links between humans and natural systems. The initiative also stresses the importance of engaging all sectors in coastal management including governments, NGOs, local communities and, increasingly, the private sector.

It initially focused on the countries worst affected by the tsunami: India, Indonesia, Maldives, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

MFF member countries now include Bangladesh, Pakistan and Viet Nam. Cambodia is expected to become a member in 2014. — VNS

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