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PM pledges $1 billion to tackle climate change in Mekong Delta

02 October 2017 | 07:55:00 AM

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has pledged $1 billion to the Mekong Delta to fund projects aimed at tackling climate change amid warnings that the country’s rice basket is disappearing.






PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc speaks at the Conference on Sustainable and Climate-Resilient Development of the Mekong Delta in Can Tho City on September 27.


The funding will come from the State budget, the World Bank, and other sources, he told a two-day conference in Can Tho city to discuss sustainable development in the Delta.

A detailed timeframe for disbursement was not discussed but the Prime Minister promised that the best and most suitable measures will be taken so that “the Mekong Delta will remain a rich part of Vietnam.”

He advised against panic and called for new thinking to bring a better life to the nearly 20 million people who call the Mekong Delta home.

Prime Minister Phuc took a two-hour helicopter ride over the Delta on September 26, some two months after taking a similar trip in the Netherlands to see how the Dutch are adapting to climate change. He said he is optimistic about the future of the Mekong Delta.

The conference heard officials warn of a bleak future for the Delta and call for more government support. They said the Delta is losing more and more land each day to erosion and subsidence, and that it may be gone in 100 years without drastic intervention.

Figures from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment show that around 300 ha of land in the Delta has been lost to erosion every year since 2005, and most of it sank by between five and ten centimeters from 2010 to 2015. The issue is even more severe in coastal areas.

Professor Tran Thuc, Vice Chairman of the government’s advisory panel on climate change, said that 144 hydro-power dams planned for the Mekong River would cause significant changes to water levels and reduce the amount of mud and sand flowing downstream, leading to “permanent” damage to the Delta’s biodiversity and the extinction of some important species.

He said the fall in sediment levels would change river currents and allow seawater to encroach further upstream, aggravating the risk of extreme weather.

Officials said that people in the Delta, which produces half of Vietnam’s rice, will need to be prepared for different scenarios, such as what is going to happen in the next five or ten years, what plants and animals will be able to survive on their farms, and what they should do in case of typhoons; a phenomenon they have not seen in two decades

(VET)

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