Climate Change and Human Development in Viet Nam: A case study for how change happens

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The case study presents Viet Nam's institutional arrangements and policies in disaster management, practical examples of climate change adaptation and provides conclusions on reducing climate change vulnerabilities.
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    Human Development   Report 2007/2008 Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world   Human Development Report Office OCCASIONAL PAPER Climate Change and Human Development in Viet Nam Peter Chaudhry and Greet Ruysschaert 2007/46      CLIMATE CHANGE & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN VIET NAM: A CASE STUDY Peter Chaudhry 1  and Greet Ruysschaert 2   3   Table of Contents 1. Introduction: Poverty, Natural Disasters & Climate Change 2   2. Trends & Predictions for Physical Vulnerability to Climate Change 3   2.1 Land and Climate 3   2.2 Changes in Temperature and Rainfall 4   2.3 Changes in Floods and Drought 4   2.4 Changes in Typhoon Patterns 4   2.5 Sea Level Rise 5   2.6 Impacts on Agriculture 5   2.7 Fisheries & Aquaculture 6   2.8 Climate Change and Human Health 6   3. Climate Change Vulnerability in a Changing Socio-Economic Context 6   3.1 Poverty, Vulnerability and a Changing Role for the State 6   3.2 Rising Inequality and Collective Protection 6   3.3 Privatisation of the Commons, the Rise of Aquaculture and the Impact on the Poor 7   4. The Institutional & Policy Environment for Climate Change Response 7   4.1 International Agreements and the Initial National Communication to the UNFCCC 7   4.2 Responsibility for Climate Change Response 7   4.3 Institutional Arrangements for Disaster Risk Management and Response 8   4.4 The Policy Framework for Disaster Risk Management 9   5. Viet Nam’s Current Climate Change Responses & Adaptation 9   5.1 Coastal Defences: Dyke Management and Mangrove Restoration 9   5.2 Disaster Early Warning Systems 9   5.3 Vulnerability and Climate Change in the Mekong Delta 10   5.4 Climate Change Adaptation in the Central Coast Region 11   6. Conclusion: Responding to the Climate Change Challenge 13   List of Acronyms 14   Annex   Major recent natural disasters in Viet Nam & their impacts 15   References 16   1  Researcher, Oxfam Great Britain 2  Former UN Volunteer with the UNDP-GEF Small Grants Programme in Viet Nam; now with the Physical and Regional Geography Research Group, Catholic University Leuven, Belgium 3  Research support and data on climate change provided by Nguyen Mong Cuong (UNDP Consultant Researcher). Guidance, additional inputs and comments by Koos Neefjes (UNDP-VN Senior Advisor Sustainable Development), Pham Thanh Hang (UNDP-VN Programme Officer) and Nguyen Thi Kim Anh (UNDP-VN Coordinator GEF Small Grants Programme). HDR 2007: Viet Nam Case Study Page 1    Final Version 16 November 2007 1. Introduction: Poverty, Natural Disasters & Climate Change 1. Viet Nam is a low-income country, but has recently made spectacular progress in terms of both economic growth and poverty reduction. The official poverty rate has fallen from 58% in 1993, to 19.5% in 2004 (VASS 2006). Strong economic growth is likely to continue following recent accession to the World Trade Organisation, with increased international trade and direct foreign investment reinforcing Viet Nam’s progress towards middle-income country status. As Viet Nam continues to be transformed from a highly centralised command economy, to a more market-based one, the urgent challenge is to ensure that the relatively equitable growth that has taken place to date is sustained. Inequality is already increasing, with growth and poverty reduction rates in remote areas markedly lower than those in and around the growth poles of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and this may have significant long term consequences for Viet Nam’s future ability to respond collectively to climate related vulnerabilities. 2. Viet Nam has a long history of coping with natural disasters and mitigating their effects in many ways. Natural disasters affect particularly the coastal regions but also include flash floods in upland areas, for example following landfall of typhoons associated with heavy rainfall, as the typology in Box 1 shows. The ability to cope with disasters and mitigate risks should increase as national and individual wealth grows, but to increase institutional capacities remains a challenge, at a time when climate change is increasing the risks. 3. Poverty in the typhoon and drought prone central coast region stood at 25.5% in 2004, against 5% for the region around Ho Chi Minh City (VASS 2006). Between 1991 and 2000 more than 8,000 people were killed by natural disasters (storms, floods, flash floods, land slides). In addition, an estimated 9,000 boats were sunk and 6 million houses were destroyed. The total economic value of losses for this period was estimated at USD 2.8 billion (CCFSC 2001). Disaster-affected regions span the length of Viet Nam’s coast, as the list in the annex of major recent natural disasters and their impacts demonstrates. Box 1: Typology of Climate Related Natural Hazards by Region in Viet Nam Region of Viet Nam Disaster Zone Principle Disaster Hazards Northern Uplands Flash floods, landslides, earthquakes North Red River Delta Monsoon river floods, typhoons, coastal storm surges Central Coast Provinces Typhoons, storm surges, flash floods, drought, saline water intrusion Centre Central Highlands Flash floods, landslides South Mekong River Delta River flooding, typhoons, high tides and storm surges, salt water intrusion (Source: CCFSC) 4. Coastal districts of Viet Nam have a population of about 18 million people, which is nearly a quarter of the total population, though they cover only sixteen per cent of the national land area. Approximately 58% of coastal zone livelihoods are based on agriculture, fishing and aquaculture. River floods cause major crop losses and devastate infrastructure, especially in the Mekong Delta, but also bring wild fish stocks for survival during floods, and increased soil fertility. Livelihoods that depend on marine resources are particularly vulnerable to typhoons and storm surges. Approximately 480,000 people are engaged directly in fishing, 100,000 in seafood processing and 2,140,000 in providing ‘fishery related services’. Aquaculture in the coastal region is seen as an important growth sector, and is providing an alternative to reliance on wild fish stocks that are increasingly under pressure from over-exploitation (MoNRE 2006). The value of fisheries’ exports has increased from USD 621.4 to 2,739 HDR 2007: Viet Nam Case Study Page 2     Final Version 16 November 2007 million between 1994 and 2005, but the share in total national export remained around ten per cent during this period. 5. A recent study on the potential impacts of sea level rise on 84 coastal developing countries shows that a 1-metre rise in sea level would affect approximately five per cent of Viet Nam’s land area, affect eleven per cent of the population, impact on seven per cent of agriculture, and reduce GDP by ten per cent (Dasgupta et al. 2007) 4 . The projections for 3 and 5-metre sea level rise scenarios for Viet Nam are described as ‘potentially catastrophic 5 ’. The study suggests that Viet Nam would rank among the top five most affected countries in the study, considering all sea level rise impact indicators. Furthermore, vulnerability to climate change extends beyond sea level rise, to include extreme weather events. Section 2 describes the changing climate patterns that are currently expected, and how those changes relate to agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries. 6. Whilst the threat of climate change will impact all across Viet Nam, it is the rural poor who face the challenge of coping with and adapting to climate change most immediately and directly within the context of Viet Nam’s changing social-economic and institutional context. They are heavily reliant upon agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries for income and food security, often in marginal environments, but have increasingly seen many of the safety nets that existed under the centrally planned economy removed, leaving them extremely vulnerable when climate-related disasters such as drought, floods or typhoons, occur. This is discussed further in section 3. Sections 4 and 5 present institutional arrangements and policies in disaster management and provide practical examples of climate change adaptation. Conclusions on reducing climate change vulnerabilities are drawn in section 6. 2. Trends & Predictions for Physical Vulnerability to Climate Change 2.1 Land and Climate 7. Viet Nam has a land area of 320,000 km 2  and a coastline of 3,260 km. Three quarters of its territory is covered by hills and mountains with elevations between 100 and 3400m, while the plain areas include two major river deltas; the Red River Delta in the north and the Mekong River Delta in the south. The lowlands are extremely fertile and densely populated, and most of Viet Nam’s agriculture and industry are concentrated there. 8. Viet Nam has a tropical monsoon climate, although regional climate variations are considerable due to the length of the country and the diverse topography. Annual mean temperature ranges between 18°C to 29°C, while mean temperatures during the coldest months vary between 13°C and 20°C in the northern mountains and between 20°C and 28°C in the tropical south. In most parts of the country annual rainfall ranges between 1400 mm and 2400 mm, but can be as high as 5000 mm or as low as 600 mm on average in some regions. Rainfall is unevenly distributed throughout the year, with about eighty or ninety per cent of the rainfall concentrated in the rainy season, causing floods and frequent landslides. The number of rainy days in the year is also very different between the regions and ranges from 60 to 200 (MoNRE 2003). 9. In several regions floods are common during the rainy season. In the dry season drought is often recorded, for example in the central highlands and especially in the south central coast region, including Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces, where rainfall is on average 4  The sectors considered were land area, population, GDP, urban extent, agriculture extent, and wetlands. Viet Nam topped the global list in four of the six, and was second in the remaining two. (Dasgupta et al. 2007) 5  These are not predictions but model studies. Whilst even for the highest greenhouse gas emissions scenarios by the IPCC the predictions are that sea level rise is likely to remain below 0.6m by 2100, this excludes the effects of major changes in ice flow. In the longer term, the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets may cause 4-6 metre of sea level rise in future centuries (IPCC 2007). HDR 2007: Viet Nam Case Study Page 3  
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