Speaking at a workshop that ended in Hanoi on April 17, deputy director general of the Vietnam Administration for Forestry Nguyen Ba Ngai said that climate change coupled with other natural factors has sped up land degradation in Vietnam.
Vietnam has 9.3 million hectares that could be categorised as going through a process of desertification, accounting for 28 percent of the total land.
Ngai said feasible mechanisms and sufficient resources are required to combat the problem.
He was speaking to key policy-makers, experts and local leaders at the two-day workshop on land degradation in the central provinces of Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan, which are the most affected by land degradation and are also home to some of the poorest communities in Vietnam.
Camilla Nordheim-Larsen, Asia and Pacific Programme Co-ordinator from the Global Mechanism of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), said land degradation is a complex and cross-cutting issue which is at the core of sustainable development.
The workshop focused on finalising the Integrated Financial Strategy that aims to increase investments in sustainable land management activities in the two provinces.
The strategy proposed that provinces mobilize investment capital to address the problem and use it more effectively by examining the development partners’ priorities, the Government’s budget, and the interests of the private sector.
Nordheim-Larsen said the next step would be to develop investment project proposals that have been identified by provincial leaders and endorsed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The project will be further negotiated with development partners and potential investors and is hoped to result in an increased flow of investments into sustainable land management activities in the two provinces.
Environmental expert Nguyen Van Duyen, leader of the consulting team that developed the strategy, said he has worked extensively in the two provinces and observed that local residents are well aware of the problem because it has already affected their livelihood. However, they need further external support to be able to fix it.
Duyen noted that the total amount of official development assistance for the two provinces is much lower than the national average, which meant even less aid has been channeled into climate change-related projects.
Representatives from the departments of Agriculture and Rural Development from both provinces explained the help they would need to run vitally important projects to combat desertification, including rehabilitating the degraded land, afforestation and watershed development.
Desertification in Ninh Thuan accounts for 30 percent of the provincial area while that of Binh Thuan is about 15 percent.
Vietnam has been a party to the UNCCD since November 1998 and ratified the national action programme to combat desertification for the period of 2006-2010 with a vision toward 2020.