Thursday, November 29, 2007

Vietnamese say country lacks strategy on climate change

Monsters & Critics, via Deutsche Press-Agentur: Vietnamese officials, responding to a new United Nations report warning that climate change threatens the country's economic development, confirmed Thursday that they lack a national strategy to cope with the effects of global warming.

'Vietnam doesn't have a strategy to adapt to climate change,' said Le Nguyen Tuong, a climate change expert at Vietnam's Institute of Hydrometeorology. He said both short- and long-term plans for coping with climate change were 'still in the discussions phase.' The UN Development Programme's Human Development report, released on Tuesday, singles out Vietnam as one of the developing countries most heavily affected by global warming, along with Egypt and Bangladesh.

The report warns that Vietnam's low-lying Mekong Delta, which produces half the country's rice, faces a 'grim forecast' of higher salinity and partial inundation due to rising sea levels. The report also warns of increasingly powerful typhoons and tropical storms. It cites earlier UNDP and World Bank reports in predicting that climate change could threaten 10 per cent of Vietnam's GDP, and displace 22 million of its citizens.

Vietnam's central provinces are particularly prone to flooding after major storms. So far this year, more than 300 people have drowned in floods. In 2006, the figure was more than 600, including 200 fishermen who drowned at sea during Typhoon Chanchu. The country has 8,000 kilometres of dikes to protect low-lying urban and agricultural land. But lack of coherent management limits the dikes' effectiveness in coping with climate change, said Armand Evers, a water management expert at the Netherlands embassy, who works with the Vietnamese government on its national water strategy.

'We are quite disappointed in the guidelines for coastal protection,' Evers said. 'There is no integral concept. If there is a typhoon in one province on Monday, then the ministers will define a programme on Tuesday to implement by Wednesday, without looking at whether it is necessary. [The dikes] are very expensive, they are not well maintained, and often, they're not well designed.'…

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