Vietnam must improve sea defence in climate change fight




Local women walk along a damaged sea dyke at the coastal Hai Thinh commune in Northern province of Nam Dinh

HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam will have to upgrade its sea defences to brace for rising ocean levels and stronger typhoons caused by

 global warming, a senior scientist has said, state media reported Thursday.

The country must spend more than 600 million dollars until 2020 to reinforce and raise sea dykes between central Quang Ngai and southern Kien Giang provinces, the water resources expert said, the official Vietnam News daily reported.

Work is needed on about 520 kilometres (320 miles) of sea dykes and over 320 kilometres of river dykes that are unable to resist flood tides and storms, said Southern Institute of Water Resources director Le Manh Hung.

Vietnam has more too lose from climate change than almost any other country, facing a risk on par with some island-states and low-lying countries such as Bangladesh.

With a 3,200-kilometre coastline and two of the largest low-lying river deltas in the world, Vietnam tops the world’s developing countries in the risk it faces from climate change, the World Bank has warned.

“Scientific evidence is now overwhelming” that climate change and rising sea levels are real threats, and the impact on Vietnam would be “potentially catastrophic,” the World Bank said in a report last year.

If sea levels rose by five metres due to a breakup of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, this would impact 16 percent of Vietnam’s land area, second only to the Bahamas out of the 84 countries surveyed, it said.

Most of the impact would be in Vietnam’s ‘rice bowls’ and population and industrial centres — the southern Mekong delta near the largest city and port, Ho Chi Minh City, and the northern Red River delta, site of the capital Hanoi.

One-third of Vietnam’s people would be affected by a five-metre sea level rise, the bank said, while a one-metre rise would affect 10.8 percent of its people, the largest impact globally.

The World Conservation Union has also said climate change was “a critical issue for Vietnam” that threatens crop failures, biodiversity loss and damage to wetlands, coral reefs and other critical ecosystems.

Last year, six major storms from the South China Sea battered Vietnam, killing more than 400 people, displacing thousands and leaving areas in central Vietnam inundated for months. 


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