Nguyen Tan Dung, Prime Minister of Vietnam, is grappling with climate change. He is not alone. This month, leaders like Mr. Dung are coming together to share their leadership experience and challenge others to join them to scale up climate action.
The government of Vietnam is working to mobilize more of its own resources to finance climate relevant activities, is setting emissions targets, and has put in place a green growth action plan. It is also taking important strides to mainstream climate policies into sector planning and to coordinate climate responses at senior levels of government.
But Mr. Dung is still worried about growing water scarcity, declining water quality, and the country’s capacity to grow enough rice to feed the population and contribute to global food security. He recognizes the real vulnerability of the people, their livelihoods, and their assets in the Mekong Delta. He is looking for expertise and resources to help his country manage its climate risk and build its resilience.
Across Vietnam, stronger storms and increased floods and droughts are having an impact. Sea level rise and coastal erosion are generating significant economic and human costs, and natural hazards have resulted in an estimated average annual economic loss of between 1 and 1.5 percent of GDP in the last 20 years.
In the Mekong Delta, leaders at all levels – local, provincial and national — face tough decisions about how best to protect the delta, its farmlands, waterways, and coastal zones from flooding, erosion, and salt water intrusion. The infrastructure costs of defending the delta are high, and there is a need to look for “soft” solutions, such as mangrove rehabilitation, that are cost-effective. For every option or combination of options, there are complex cost-benefit analyses to be conducted and trade-offs to be understood. Perhaps the only certainty is that the longer action is delayed, the higher the costs become.