Friday, April 1, 2011

Flexibility key to tackling climate change in the Mekong Delta

Ngoc Le in Vietnam News: Long-term vision and short-term planning should be the twin planks on which the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta should base its adaptation to climate change, Dutch experts said at a workshop yesterday. It would be unwise to make big investments in impact mitigating projects like dykes when the actual phenomena could not be predicted with high accuracy, they said.

The two-day workshop, titled "Towards a Mekong Delta Plan", brought together policy-makers and hundreds of experts from the two countries in the presence of Dutch Crown Prince Williem-Alexander, who has been on an official visit to the country.

Workshop participants discussed different options to optimise plans for the Delta relating to many areas including the predicted rise in sea levels, salinity intrusion, drought, insufficient supply of fresh water, agricultural and aquaculture production as well as urban development.

Various scenarios and solutions were discussed based on a "design table" application developed by the Dutch. The design table presented three-dimensional images of the Delta that changed in response to different input data. The design table session was an interactive spatial planning exercise that sought to help key Vietnamese decision makers "map out scenarios for the future of the Mekong Delta in relation to climate change adaptation," organisers said.

The Dutch side gave a design table to their Vietnamese counterparts at the workshop as a present. "In the long term, many things will remain unclear," said Prof L. O. Fresco of the University of Amsterdam. "We do not know by how much the sea levels will rise and water discharge will increase," she told Viet Nam News. "Sometimes we cannot change things back," she added.

Speaking to Viet Nam News on the sidelines of the workshop, deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dao Xuan Hoc said the step-by-step approach was a good idea. It would allow authorities to have updated statistics on hand to develop the most accurate and appropriate plans, he added. "We should have a vision for the next 50 years, then we get back to where we are now to develop strategies for every five years," he said….

Flood in the streets of Can Tho, shot by Atsaigon, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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