The Mekong Delta, the country’s biggest agricultural hub, might experience a sea level rise of 30cm sooner rather than expected – as early as 2040.
This is revealed in a World Bank report titled Turn down the heat: Climate extremes, regional impacts and the case for resilience, which was released globally last week.
The report said the rapid rise would mean a loss of about 12 per cent of crop production due to inundation and salinity intrusion.It was projected that rice production could drop by about 2.6 million tonnes per year.
The report said the Mekong Delta and two other Asian river deltas in Asia were particularly at risk because they were less than two metres above sea level.
It said that rising sea levels, more intense tropical cyclones and land subsidence caused by human activities, would disrupt the main economic activities of the delta – agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and tourism.
The Washington-based development bank estimated the cost of adapting shrimp and catfish aquaculture in the Mekong Delta would range from US$130-190 million per year.
HCM City was also declared to be among coastal cities in Southeast Asia hardest hit by rising seas and increased storm surges. The report claimed that up to 60 per cent of the built-up area could expect rises of up to one metre.
Ajali Acharya, the World Bank Viet Nam’s environment cluster leader, said the report provided scientific evidences on which Viet Nam and development partners could help the country move along the low-carbon, climate-resilient, sustainable-development path.
Tran Thuc, director of Viet Nam’s Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment, agreed with the World Bank’s recommendation that Southeast Asian countries intensify actions to address the impacts of climate change.
He said Viet Nam had made remarkable efforts, with short-term priority going to climate adaptation.
He said much needed to be done in disaster mitigation, flood management and building climate resilience, especially among those poor.
“The core of climate change adaptation is becoming more and more about poverty reduction,” he said.
The World Bank is working with Viet Nam on a series of policy actions to mitigate climate change impacts and is discussing programmes in HCM City and in the Mekong Delta to address some of these threats.