Vietnam’s Vulnerability to Climate Change

Climate change experts are concerned that rising sea levels could ultimately destroy up to half of Vietnam’s rice crop as well as Can Tho — a Vietnamese city of one million just three feet above sea level, where the economy has depended on reliable flood cycles for centuries.

Studies show a three-foot rise in sea level likely this century would inundate 5%of Vietnam’s land area, swamp 80% of the Mekong Delta and 9% of the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam.

Vietnam has always been vulnerable to adverse weather, and in some ways has built its economy and culture around the expectation of devastating storms.  The government has a “living with floods” policy that focuses on maximizing the benefits of floods (and minimizing the damage) through behavioral changes such as encouraging villagers to switch between aquaculture from agriculture, and adopting rice varieties that can withstand fluctuations in water level and salinity.

More on Mekong Delta and climate change

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