With around 75 per cent of Viet Nam's urban population living in low elevation coastal zones, many people will be affected by rising sea levels, experts have warned.
Marginalised groups in urban areas, such as the poor, women, children, and the elderly were particularly sensitive to the stress of climate change, Nguyen Quang, manager of the UN-Habitat Programme in Viet Nam, said.
"Climate-related disasters will compound the difficulties that migrants face in urban areas in Viet Nam due to poor access to urban services," he told a two-day regional workshop that concluded last Thursday in HCM City.
Besides the economic costs, climate change also had a direct effect on key urban infrastructure, including transportation, water supply, and energy, and exacerbates urbanisation problems, he said.
Between 1990 and 2009 the country ranked fifth world-wide in terms of impacts of climate-related disasters, averaging 457 fatalities and GDP losses of US$1.9 billion per year.
Climate threats and natural disasters would likely spark an additional migration of people to cities, he warned.
In HCM City, damage caused by natural disasters in the last decade is estimated at US$12.6 million.
The city is among the top 10 globally in terms of exposed population. The majority of the poor in the city live along canals and drainage ditches and areas susceptible to flooding.
By the end of this century temperatures in southern Viet Nam, including HCM City, would increase by 1.4—2.6 Celsius and rainfall by 1—1.9 per cent, Le Ngoc Tuan of the city Department of Science and Technology said.
Sea levels were expected to rise by 75-100cm by 2100, he said.
With a rise of 12cm by 2020 and 17cm by 2030, Can Gio District would be the worst affected area, followed by Binh Chanh and Cu Chi Districts, he added.
An average rise of 0.5cm per year will endanger 60 per cent of HCM City by 2050.
With a one-metre rise corresponding to a high emission scenario (A1FI), 39 per cent of the Mekong Delta would be inundated, as would over 10 per cent of the Red River Delta, over 2.5 per cent of the central coast, and over 20 per cent of HCM City, Bao Thanh, deputy director of the Viet Nam Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Climate Change, said.
Around 35 per cent of the Mekong Delta's population, over 9 per cent in the Red River delta, around 9 per cent in the central coast, and 7 per cent in HCM City would be directly affected, he said.
A National Strategy of Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation was approved in 2011, he said.
The urgent tasks to be completed between 2011 and 2015 included developing a master plan for socio-economic development in the Mekong River Delta that factors in climate change, upgrading coastal and river dykes, and keeping out saltwater from vulnerable areas that have an impact on food security, he said.
Quang said, "There is a need for a legal framework for strategic and participatory urban planning in Viet Nam, with a focus on marginalised and vulnerable groups in urban areas."
Integration of climate change issues into appraisal of land-use planning and the housing construction regulatory framework was also vital, he said.
The country should promote private investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean development mechanisms, he added.
Nearly 50 Vietnamese and foreign officials and experts in urban development and climate change attended the workshop titled "Urbanisation and global environmental change- Southeast Asia" and organised under the aegis of the Urbanisation and Global Environmental Change (UGEC) project.
rising sea levels, department of science, science and technology, can gio district, red river delta, in the red, climate change adaptation, mekong river delta, climate change, per cent, sea levels, urban areas, such as, the poor, the elderly
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