Closing Workshop UN-REDD Vietnam Programme Phase 1


Vietnam’s Climate Woes Ignite National Strategy

By Vanya Walker-Leigh

If climate change affects rice production in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta rice bowl, it will have grave national and global food security implications. / Credit:eutrophication&hypoxia/CC-BY-2.0

If climate change affects rice production in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta rice bowl, it will have grave national and global food security implications. 


HANOI, May 7, 2012 (IPS) - Vietnam is hailed as a development success story for lifting millions out of poverty and staying on track to meet all of its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. But the country's future progress is severely threatened by the impact of global climate change.

This nation of 86 million people – stretching down the eastern seaboard of the Indochina peninsula, its mountainous inland fringed by a broad coastal plain – shares the vast Mekong river system with Laos, Thailand, Burma, China and Cambodia. 

Unprecedented climate-related catastrophes in recent years have turned government and citizen attention onto the pressing need for proactive climate change policies, although the actual speed of future global warming is beyond Vietnam’s control and depends more on major industrial nations' future greenhouse gas emission reductions agreed within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

Vietnam's National Climate Change Strategy launched this March dramatically describes the nation as "one of the most affected countries…with the Mekong River Delta being one of the three most vulnerable deltas in the world alongside the Nile and the Ganges." 

By the end of this century average temperatures could have increased by two to three degrees Celsius, the Strategy warns, with major changes in rainfall patterns threatening devastating floods and droughts, while the sea level is set to rise by between 0.75 to one metre. 

The policy document adds, "About 40 percent of the Mekong River Delta, 11 percent of the Red River Delta and three percent of other regions will be submerged, with two percent of Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam’s commercial capital, home to over seven million inhabitants) under water." 

Any slump in production in the huge Mekong Delta rice bowl will have grave national and global food security implications, since Vietnam is the world's second largest rice exporter. 

The Asian Development Bank's report, 'Addressing Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific', issued this March, forecasts that by 2050 some 9.5 million Vietnamese will be at risk from the impacts of sea level rise. The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE) is leading implementation of the national Strategy. 

"Building on a previous National Target Programme for Climate Change launched in 2008, the Strategy focuses on both adaptation and mitigation, while setting guideposts for the short, medium and long term as well as ten strategic tasks," Pham Van Tan, deputy director-general of MONRE's International Cooperation Department told IPS. 

"The three action phases (go) up to the end of this year, from 2013-2025 and 2016-2050," he explained, "aiming at a careful balance between adaptation and mitigation – the latter to counter the expected rapid increase in greenhouse gas emissions implied in Viet Nam's ambitious industrialisation plans. We will also pursue regional approaches with our neighbouring countries." 

Strategic tasks include developing wide-ranging actions on food and water security, sea level rise, increasing forest cover and renewable energy use, emission reductions, community capacity development for adaptation and scientific and technological development. Provinces and cities are tasked with developing their own plans, merged with national goals, involving the private sector and civil society. 

Extensive support over the long term from international donors is seen as critical to the Strategy's success. However, it warns, "Since Vietnam has become a middle-income country, international support will be decreased and cooperation carried out on a win-win basis." New types of funding will hopefully emerge "through new financial and technology transfer mechanisms from developed countries." 

The Strategy's ninth and 10th tasks relate to international cooperation and financial resources, to be channelled through a national Green Climate Fund to be set up by MONRE at the Prime Minister's request. An international investment conference envisions inviting foreign businesses to invest in adaptation-related infrastructure. 

"A climate change donor support group (comprised of countries and multilateral institutions), set up in 2008 to interact with the government as well as coordinate our actions, is currently chaired by Germany and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)," Juergen Hesse, director of the Natural Resources Programme at the Vietnam office of GIZ (the German development cooperation agency) told IPS. 

"GIZ is cooperating with several other donors as well as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature on coastal zone protection in the Mekong Delta, which includes restoration (and) extension of mangrove belts (and) upgrading existing dykes while determining key 'erosion hot spots' where new ones would be most needed." 

Broadening existing climate change cooperation to support the new Strategy was discussed during two high-level visits to Vietnam last month, first by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, followed by the European Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, as well as by the recently appointed Director- General of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) José Graziano da Silva during his visit in March. 

"Non-governmental organisations, both Vietnamese and foreign, have been working on climate change for some time through field projects and their Climate Change Working Group," Vu Trung Kien, director of the Climate Change Resilience Centre, told IPS. "We talk with (the) government but don't sit on the National Climate Change Committee and have a few entry points at provincial levels so far. Lack of capacity, lack of information at all levels is a huge problem." 

The government admits that its climate change actions can only succeed as part of a broad 'green economy' framework, a radical departure from the environmentally destructive growth policies followed after 1975. The related National Green Growth Strategy being drafted under the Prime Minister's leadership will hopefully be launched in time for the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil, known as Rio+20, from Jun. 20-22. 

As the climate change strategy tellingly warns, "public awareness on climate change remains limited and one-sided: too much attention towards the adverse impacts...and too little to changing production and consumption behaviours towards…low-carbon, green growth." 


Vietnam finalizes study on Ecological Stratification linked to REDD+

As a country aiming to reach Tier 3 reporting by the eventual implementation phase of REDD+, Viet Nam, supported by the UN-REDD Programme engaged in a study to stratify the country into ecological zones which are conducive for forestry. The Ecological Stratification study of Viet Nam was finalized in October 2011.

The study identified first the factors which determine ecological zones, and the hierarchy of such factors, which became the basis for stratifying the national territory into two ecological zones, further stratified into eight ecological regions, further stratified into 47 ecological sub-regions.

This preliminary study is proposed to undergo further national scientific reviews to determine adaptability for the forestry sector in general, and for REDD+ purposes in particular. The study was undertaken by a consultative group of national experts representing the different disciplines which affect forest ecology, and was led by the Research Centre for Forest Ecology and Environment of the Forest Science Institute of Viet Nam.

Viet Nam’s forests demonstrate great diversity owing to the various impacting ecological factors. To date, Viet Nam uses an ecological zoning system which was primarily established as an agro-ecological zoning system with minor adaptations for the forestry sector. Under REDD+, estimation of emission factors of forests are a central activity for MRV. Emission factors differ for each forest type and also depending on the environment or ecological conditions of the forest.

Source: UN-REDD Newsletter

Vietnam: Sixth Community-Based Adaptation Conference Focuses on Communication

22 April 2012: The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) Sixth International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA6) brought stakeholders and practitioners together to discuss community-based adaptation (CBA) planning and practices. The conference focused on communicating how communities are adapting to climate change, and addressed the following themes: scaling-up CBA; water resources; biodiversity and forests; coastal zones; health; disaster risk reduction (DRR); and vulnerable communities, including indigenous people.

CBA6 took place from 16-22 April 2012, in Hanoi, Viet Nam, bringing together over 500 participants. The event began with field trips around Viet Nam to visit projects addressing problems such as flooding, saltwater intrusion and drought. During a session on children as drivers of change, Jill Lawler, UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), summarized the findings of a regional report on Children’s Vulnerability to Climate Change and Disaster Impacts in East Asia and the Pacific.

During a session on increasing community resilience, Robin Mearns, World Bank, underscored that cross-boundary institutions increase the long-term sustainability of participatory, community based-processes embedded in nationally owned systems. Nguyen Thi Kim Anh, UN Development Programme (UNDP), highlighted the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) in Viet Nam, which provides grants in the areas of biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, combating land and desertification, as well as CBA programmes. Rajan Kotru and Navraj Pradhan, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), highlighted ‘no regrets’ adaptation projects and emphasized the importance of institutional capacity at the local level for adaptation.

During a session on emerging challenges for CBA Charles Nyandiga, UNDP, discussed institutional, technological, social and organizational barriers to implementing CBA activities, and Sladjana Cosic, World Bank, highlighted social accountability in adaptation finance. Margareta Wahlström, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for DRR, welcomed Viet Nam’s Community-based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) Programme and National Climate Change Strategy. [UNISDR Press Release] [IIED CBA6 Website] [IIED CBA6 Session Details]

Source: iisd Reporting Services

The Vietnam War’s ongoing effect on conservation

By Karimeh Moukaddem,

September 16, 2011

In the Phong Dien Nature Reserve in central Vietnam, an unlikely resource is hindering formal conservation efforts. Deep in the forest, villagers scavenge for scrap metal left during the Vietnam War. Unprecedented research from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) finds scrap metal gathering is a primary driver in forest degradation and trade in non-timber forest products in Vietnam.

The Khe Tran village lies adjacent to the Phong Dien protected area, where logging and hunting have been prohibited since 1992. The extraction of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) is still permitted, and collectors earn roughly $62 a year scavenging metal, around one-twelfth the mean annual income of surveyed households. In Vietnam, scrap metal is a “backbone product,” meaning it influences markets for other forest products. Traders who purchase metal also will purchase rattan, bamboo, or eaglewood from metal collectors.

Because unexploded ordinance is a threat to metal collectors, collectors minimize risk by torching areas of the forest to increase visibility and detonate mines from a distance. As a result, fire has greatly contributed to the degradation of forests and farmland around Khe Tran village and in the Nature Reserve.

To encourage forest protection, policy makers must understand how local peoples use the forest and what risks their activities pose to long-term conservation. Collecting metal is the primary reason villagers enter the forest, yet they broaden their impact by collecting other forest products—including some threatened species, say CIFOR researchers. As metal becomes scarcer, those dependant on this artificial forest resource could diversify their incomes through timber harvest or the animal trade.

The government has sought to reduce rural reliance on forests by encouraging plantation crop in the place of shifting cultivation. With increased reliable incomes from plantations, and the growing scarcity of metal scavenged from the forest, most villagers in Khe Tran no longer depend on forest metal for their main income. However, members of the nearby Phong Son Commune and other neighboring areas still are reliant on scrap metal as land scarcity has precluded farming alternatives.

The people of Khe Tran have requested formal recognition of their rights to the forest. Perhaps to ensure limited outside access to forest resources, the population of Khe Tran has expressed interest in assisting authorities with conservation goals by monitoring and patrolling the Phong Dien Nature Reserve. As in common in the developing world, government conservation resources are spread thin: only eight rangers patrol the 40,000-hectare protected area.

When war metal becomes too sparse to merit collecting, the poorest and most vulnerable members of Vietnam’s rural communities will be in need of alternative livelihood options, and researchers fear further degrading activates should effective policies to protect the forest while providing income-generating activities is not met.


You are here: Home