Thursday, July 16 2020

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Delta must have 'emergency plan' on climate change

Update: May, 30/2020 - 07:55
Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng speaks at a meeting on Thursday (May 28) about a regional plan for the Mekong Delta that focuses on climate change. VNA/VNS Photo

HCM CITY — The Mekong Delta region must include an “emergency” response to climate change in its regional planning for the 2021-30 period as rising seas, coastal erosion and subsidence could occur earlier than previously thought, Deputy Prime Trịnh Đình Dũng said on Thursday in Hà Nội.

Dũng asked regional authorities to develop a “comprehensive and scientific evaluation of all factors affecting the development of the delta”.

Dũng, who is chairman of the Council of Appraising the Mekong Delta Planning Task, said the delta holds a particularly important strategic position within national socio-economic development and defence and security. 

The regional plan, with a vision to 2050, must reduce the negative impact caused by upstream activities and take strong measures to end the overexploitation of sand and groundwater, Dũng said.

It must also fully tap the potential of water, aquaculture and agricultural production and waterway transport, which would contribute to food security nationally and internationally.

In addition, the plan must focus on the 2017 Government resolution on climate resilience and sustainable development, and linkages between delta provinces and the central government.

Challenges

As Việt Nam’s largest agricultural production centre, the delta faces many challenges due to natural and human activity.

The delta, which spreads over 40,577sq.km and is possibly one of the lowest lying deltas in the world, has been a rice bowl and aquaculture hub for many years.

International studies in recent years have warned that the delta is sinking and might disappear within less than a century. But the most recent studies show that it could disappear sooner than previously thought.

Climate Central, a US-based non-profit news organisation that reports on climate science, last year revealed a shocking finding which said that most of southern Việt Nam, including the Mekong Delta and the nation’s economic hub, HCM City, could be seriously flooded by 2050.  

The study, published in Nature Communications, said that sea levels projected by 2050 would be high enough to force 150 million people permanently below the high tide line. In other words, rising seas could affect three times the number of people by 2050 than previously thought.

The deputy PM has asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment to consult the opinions of experts and scientists and assess the factors affecting the delta’s regional plan and issue a report to the Government.

The delta is the southernmost area of Việt Nam. It includes a centrally-run city and 12 provinces, accounting for 12 per cent of the country's area and nearly 20 per cent of the population. — VNS

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