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Apr 14, 2019 / 18:57

Climate resilience: Netherlands’ great advantage to help Vietnam move forward

The Netherlands, a country that lies below the sea level, will bring its experience and technologies to help Vietnam cope with climate change.

The Netherlands has pledged to offer its excellent management of water resources to Vietnam in the context that the Southeast Asian country is among the five hardest-hit nations by climate change. 
The Netherlands is famous for water management. Photo: Global
The Netherlands is famous for water management. Photo: Global
In a broader approach, Dutch officials and experts have addressed climate change-caused challenges that Vietnam is facing with in order to find the best solutions. 

As such, climate resilience and water management are also among pillars in the joint statement released after the talks between the Vietnam and the Netherlands' prime ministers. The scope covers sustainable development in the Mekong delta, sea-level rise, land subsidence, coastal erosion, seawater intrusion, water resources, water quality, and agriculture transformation. 

Vietnam’s situation 

A Dutch delegation led by Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuizen said the Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City (HCM City) are among many places in the world suffering climate change-caused issues. 

Mekong Delta needs master planning on water management. Photo: Dulichvietnam
Mekong Delta needs master planning on water management. Photo: Dulichvietnam
(1) Vietnam’s Mekong Delta is coping with flooding, drought, and seawater intrusion due to global warming, destructive exploitation and using of water, and hydropower development in the upper Mekong.

(2) The Mekong Delta is facing the depletion of freshwater and land subsidence. Initial researches showed that land sinking varies between 01 and 04cm/year in HCM City and regional provinces caused by both groundwater extraction and young sedimentary rocks (which is still unconsolidated). 

(3) Erosion in coastal areas becomes worse. In 2018, the Mekong Delta recorded 562 riverside and coastal spots or 786km suffering landslide.

(4) Internal problems: Vietnam lacks an inter-regional coordination mechanism and master planning on the exploitation and using of land, water, and natural resources for the Mekong Delta and HCM City. In addition, impacts from unsustainable agri-aquaculture cultivation become serious while area of mangrove forests is narrowed. 

Vietnam’s proposals 

The government of Vietnam has expected comprehensive solutions and support from the Netherlands in the following issues. 

(1) Support Vietnam in setting up a regional coordination committee to outline measures and mobilize resources for the implementation of climate resilience. 

(2) Support Vietnam in building and implementing master planning on water resources, typically overall measures to store water in the Mekong Delta to end the paradox of water abundant in dry seasons and insufficient in rainy seasons. Support the country in prevent drought and salinization. 

(3) Offer measures for riverside and coastal erosion, seawater intrusion, and land subsidence in the Mekong Delta. 

(4) Support Vietnam in building inter-sectoral database and building and operating Mekong Delta Integrated Regional Center 2030 which includes online supervision systems for widespread dissemination of successful models in the region. 

(5) Support and share experience on large-scale projects on climate change adaptation and sea-level rise in the Mekong Delta in the future. 

The Netherlands’ lessons 

Dutch officials and experts said they have learned that there should be close multi-sectoral cooperation to build long-term and comprehensive solutions. As a result, they recommended a number of solutions for climate change adaptation in HCM City and the Mekong Delta. 

(1) Require multi-sectoral collaboration to realize goals on safety, security, and stability. The Netherlands, for example, cannot ensure water safety in lowlands without discussions among different sectors and associations. 

(2) Need the participation of residents in discussions on the using of natural resources for their sake and to get their ideas and experience. 

(3) Strengthen governance in coping with climate change and building livelihood and scenarios for plains based on residents’ experience.

(4) Take into account challenges from different aspects to have proper measures as climate change is complicated, unpredictable, and sensitive in terms of politics. 

(5) Choose the best and most economical solutions which prioritize effectiveness and sustainability. The final solutions are based on viewpoints and recommendations by all sectors and all walks of life to balance benefits of all that help gain maximum public trust and support. 

The minister concluded that it should have voices, knowledge, and sectors connected or balanced to serve the management of water and plains and to find long-term resolutions for climate change control in Vietnam. 

Vietnam-Netherlands cooperation

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung and Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuizen in Hanoi last week. Photo: Tainguyenmoitruong
Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung and Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuizen in Hanoi last week. Photo: Tainguyenmoitruong
According to Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, climate change mitigation and adaptation needs to be higher on the political agenda. Both Vietnam and the Netherlands could be part of a global spearhead group of nations that increase their ambitions and accelerate their early action. 

The Netherlands has supported Vietnam in three sectors, as follows:

(1) Improve governance with specific measures to better management models, build specific plans, and fund water management projects.  

(2) Share knowledge and help improve education. 

(3) Conduct pilot programs on the management of water resources and make policies later on. 

The support would be done under three methods namely:

(1) Financial support: official development assistance (ODA) with dozen million dollars in infrastructure managing water resources through the Facility for Infrastructure Development (ORIO) and the Development Related Infrastructure Investment Vehicle (DRIVE). 

(2) Technical support: for long-term water resources management projects run by agencies, organizations, and companies. 

(3) Strategic consulting: by Dutch experts for the policy making and implementation of the projects. 

The Netherlands Scientific Research Organization has funded research on relation and subsidence and groundwater in the Mekong Delta. Accordingly, Dutch Utrecht University and Deltares executed this research. 

The Dutch government is about to sign Letter of Intent with the Vietnamese Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources for cooperation on groundwater policies with help of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO and the first cooperation project will start in June 2019. 

In addition, some big projects have been conducted, including coastal erosion prevention in Hoi An city in Quang Nam province and flooding control in HCM City.