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The third conference on climate resilient and sustainable development of Mekong Delta of Vietnam

On 13 March 2021, in Can Tho City, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chaired the third conference on Climate Resilient and Sustainable Development of Mekong Delta of Vietnam. This conference is to evaluate the implementation of Resolution 120/NQ-CP on sustainable development for Mekong Delta area. The resolution is considered as a strategic vision of the government to "live in harmony with nature" for a prosperity of the region.

The Mekong Delta accounts for 12% of the area and 19% of the population of the whole nation. The area provides 65% aquaculture, 70% fruit, and 80% rice of the national export. However, in the context of climate change, Mekong Delta is severely impacted with landslide, saline intrusion, and flooding. These factors have put agriculture, construction, and urban development of the region in high risk. Therefore, in the period of 2021-2025, total investment capital for Mekong Delta area is allocated at 338,000 billion VND. Key investment includes inter-provincial highways of Trung Luong – My Thuan, My Thuan – Can Tho, and Can Tho – Ca Mau, as well as projects and programs in landslide prevention, health, transportation, natural resources and environment, etc.

In her presentation at the conference, Ms. Carolyn Turk – Country Director of the World Bank in Vietnam congratulated the Vietnamese government on the achievements through the implementation of Resolution 120 in the past three years. In her words, the resolution in 2017 is a breakthrough milestone, marking the change from passive prevention to actively adapt to climate change. Resolution 120 has pointed out that climate change and sea level rise, extreme weather and saline intrusion have become the new normal of the Mekong Delta area. In the period of 2015-2020, the World Bank has mobilized approximately 2.2 billion USD for different activities in the area, most of which are in accordance with Resolution 120. Some major accomplishments consist of the Mekong Delta area master plan, the establishment of the regional coordination council, the upgrading of observation and monitoring system in water resource management. The Country Director of World Bank suggested the following ideas to the government of Vietnam: both vertical and horizontal coordination from cities and provinces of the Mekong Delta, as well as from provincial government and central government organizations; engaging with other countries in Mekong Delta region in dealing with impacts of climate change; financing for investment in the area must be with long-term vision, efficiency, transparency, and accountability.

Besides the 6 presentations from relevant ministries (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Construction, Ministry of Transportation) and Can Tho City, there are many ideas and feedbacks from other participants, including Minister of Science and Technology, Secretary of Kien Giang Province, Chairman of An Giang, Chairman of Ca Mau, Secretary of Hau Giang, Professor Doctor Vo Tong Xuan, and Professor Dao Xuan Hoc. All of them focus on the impacts of climate change in the region, the necessity of regional connection, as well as the different projects for particular cities/provinces.

In his conclusion, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc reiterated the important role of the Mekong Delta in agricultural production and sustainable development. He raised the notion of a new strategic viewpoint of 8Gs, which were not mentioned in Resolution 120, for the development of the region. The 8Gs include: (a) prioritization of resources for transport, irrigation, infrastructure, climate change adaptation, etc.; (b) education and human resources development; (c) look more into the definition of "river economy" and make good use of the river benefits; (d) enhance the connection between central and local governments, government and citizens, as well as domestic and international cooperation; (e) improve the administrative reforms so as to attract major enterprises to the city/province; (f) attract talented people/experts/scientists; (g) promote social welfare policies for the elderly population; (h) promote gender equality, ensure opportunities for women in approach education and labor market.

The Prime Minister also emphasized the necessity of providing a flexible environment for enterprises and harmonizing key markets, for example: labor, land, production, science and technology, and capital. In addition, he urged the early implementation of 5-year and 10-year projects of infrastructure for the Mekong Delta, as it plays an important role in regional development. The Prime Minister stated the essential of a regional coordination council as well as international cooperation with partners experienced in climate adaptation.

The government leader also asked for preventative measures in regards of raising awareness of the community, and commitment of the country to reduce greenhouse gas emission.

 

Quách Thanh Trúc

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