Vietnam is one of the areas most affected by climate change as evidenced by the extreme events that took place in recent years including droughts, floods, tropical storms, typhoons and erratic rainfall. The 2021 Global Climate Risk Index ranks Vietnam 13th among the countries most affected by extreme weather events between 2000 and 2019 as a result of climate change. Recent elevation calculation models show that the Mekong Delta is approximately 0.8m above sea level making it one of the 3 most vulnerable deltas in the world to sea level rise.
About 18 million people live in the delta and the agriculture of this region is one of the most productive in the world, constituting one of the main economic centers of Vietnam and providing about 90% of the country’s rice, 70% of its fruit and 65% of its aquatic products (eg. shrimp and pangasius) exports. However, due to drought, global sea level rise and unsustainable human activities (eg. over-extraction of groundwater reserves, of aggregates from the Mekong River bed and the reduced river water flow caused by an intense system of dams developed in the upstream section of the river) the Delta is literally sinking and giving rise to phenomena of erosion, salt water intrusion and subsidence, impacting agricultural production and causing considerable damage at an economic, infrastructural and social level.
In absence of specific mitigation and adaptation measures, the scientific and economic community agree that by 2100, climate change could impact more than 12% of the Vietnamese population and reduce the country’s GDP growth by 10% as well as seeing much of the Mekong Delta fall below 1 meter of water posing food and social security issues as a consequence.
The Vietnamese government, therefore, considers the response to climate change a top priority and has developed and implemented a series of mitigation and adaptation policies to address these risks and increase resilience against climate impacts. Already in 2016, the parliament in Hà Nội had approved amendments to the law on environmental protection, introducing a chapter on climate change and the responsibility of implementing the Paris Agreement on climate (COP21). This made Vietnam one of the first developing countries to adopt an implementation plan for the Paris Agreement with specific Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Following the recent commitments for a carbon neutrality (Net Zero) made by the Vietnamese Prime Minister during the UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow, the Vietnamese government established a National Steering Committee with the task of reforming the main government strategies on the fight against climate change and reduction of greenhouse gases. Currently, the review of the new NDCs is underway but the Government already marks a remarkable result with the new National Climate Change Strategy (NCCS) which sets the goal of a 43.1% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and a total carbon dioxide neutrality by 2050. The NCCS further indicates the strategy regarding the launch of a new climate finance through the creation of a market for carbon credits and the issuance of green bonds. These financial instruments will help cover part of the investments necessary to achieve carbon neutrality and estimated at over 360 billion dollars between 2021 and 2050. Particular relevance lies in the planned mitigation measures (eg. increase of forest protection up to 43% of national reserves, development and installment of renewable energy and technologies for capture, sequestration and storage of Co2, conservation of strategic ecosystems such as wetlands, peatlands and coastal areas) and adaptation to climate change (eg. Nature Based Solutions – NBS) as well as the introduction of the response to climate change in the systems and logics of equity and justice.
In light of the Vietnamese commitments towards carbon neutrality by 2050 and as part of a joint effort with the Italian Embassy in Hanoi and of an Italy-Vietnam strategy formulated in two MOUs with the Ministry of Science and Technology – MOST and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment – MONRE, AICS Hanoi intends to strengthen its position as a strategic partner in providing technical assistance and policy development support aimed at building a Vietnamese society resilient to the shocks of climate change while allowing the country’s economic development needs to harmonize with the most pressing national needs of mitigation and adaptation as well as conservation, protection and restoration of environmental resources through disaster risk reduction (DRR) approaches, building back better and nature-based solutions (NBS).
The Agency is therefore committed to supporting Vietnam in its mitigation and adaptation measures to climate change through the promotion of energy efficiency, circular economy models, renewable energy technologies and the management and sustainable use of natural resources through actions aimed at protecting, conserving or restoring water, air, soil and biodiversity while fighting soil degradation, forest loss, coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion in the country’s most vulnerable areas such as the Vietnamese Mekong and the Red River Delta.
Italy intervenes through two main initiatives: the Italy – Vietnam Debt for Development Program (7.7 MEUR) and the Development of a monitoring and decision support platform for the management of the Thai Binh – Red River hydroelectric basin system (3.4 MEUR).
The Italy – Vietnam Debt for Development Program intends to promote poverty reduction, socio-economic development and environmental protection through the improvement of local livelihood and the sustainable management of natural resources, while addressing the negative consequences of climate change.
The Governments of Italy and Vietnam have agreed that part of the debt accrued by the Vietnamese government towards the Italian government, equal to the value of Euro 7,695,254.26, shall be converted into a counterpart fund for the implementation of development cooperation initiatives. The Program therefore intends to support Vietnam in the processes of mitigation and adaptation to climate change. In line with the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Ministry for Planning and Investments (MPI), selected projects will have a budget between 1 and 2 million euros, an implementation duration spanning between 12 and 36 months and supporting the following sub-sectors: Sustainable energy; forestation and coastal resilience; sustainable management of water resources; solid waste and waste water management. The Program, in line with the priorities indicated in the NCCS, intends to act as a catalyst for achieving the objectives expressed in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by supporting the Vietnamese provinces most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
The initiative “Development of a monitoring and decision support platform for the management of the Thai Binh – Red River hydroelectric basin system” arises from the need of the Vietnamese counterparts, and in particular of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, to improve the management of the Thai Binh Reservoir – Red River, through an integrated intervention process. The main activities include: the development of a network of automated stations for hydro-meteorological monitoring; the creation of a forecasting hydro-meteorological model; the implementation of a forecasting system for meteorological risks; the creation of a platform for sharing information and to allow interactions between main stakeholders; and assistance activities during and after the implementation of the systems described above in order to ensure the correct transfer of skills for the multi-year management of the monitoring network and the IT platform.