The World Wide Fund for Nature began a forum in Ben Tre Province Sunday to draft strategies to minimize the impacts of climate change on the Mekong Delta and seek models of adaptive management for the delta’s sustainable development.
Photo: Quynh Trung
It has attracted more than 230 representatives from 13 Mekong Delta cities and provinces, and policy makers, scientists, individuals, and organizations from around the nation.
It has provided delegates with a general view of the delta’s ecosystem, cultural values, and products and goods as well as the connections and cooperation of authorities in the region.
The region, the country’s rice basket, is among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned.
Its biodiversity is believed to face serious challenges like ecosystem degradation, the shrinking of agricultural land, encroachment of salt water, and urbanization.
The report predicts that by the end of the century rice production will decline dramatically while the sea level is forecast to rise by 33cm in 2050 due to climate change, which could submerge tens of thousands of hectares of cropland.
It will severely affect more than 18 million people.
Scientists and climate-change experts have raised concern about the region’s ability to deal with the problem, which requires a huge outlay of resources.
“The impact of climate change on the Mekong Delta’s social and economic development and environment has not yet been fully measured,” Deputy Professor Nguyen Hoang Tri, director of the Hanoi-based University of Pedagogy’s Environmental Research and Education Center, said.
“So we need to change our vision, methodology, and adopt tried-and-tested approaches.”
Many delegates called on local authorities to improve their awareness to cope with the great challenges climate change would pose.
Deputy Professor Nguyen Chu Hoi, deputy head of the Sea and Islands General Department, said: “Protection of natural preservation areas and ecological restoration should be prioritized for coping with climate change.”
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues related to conservation, research, and restoration of the environment.
It is also the world’s largest independent conservation organization, working in more than 90 countries, supporting around 1300 conservation and environmental projects around the world.
The forum was hosted for the first time in 2009 in Can Tho and in Kien Giang a year later.
The Mekong is one of the world’s major river systems, draining an area of 795,000 sq.km. At an estimated 4,350 km, it is the 10th longest river in the world and seventh longest in Asia.
The Mekong basin is one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. More than 1,200 species of fish have been identified and scientists think there could be possibly as many as 1,700. Fishing is a very important economic activity in the area and a vital source of protein for residents there.
The 39,000-sq-km Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southeastern Vietnam and has large numbers of rice fields. It also accounts for large output and export of basa and tra catfish and shrimp.
At the World Wide Fund for Nature’s forum on coping with climate change in the Mekong Delta Sunday, (from left) Prof Nguyen Hoang Tri, Prof Nguyen Chu Hoi, Bui Ngoc Suong, Huynh Anh Tuan, deputy chairman of the Ben Tre People’s Comittee, and Huynh Tien Dung of WWF