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Minister Tran Hong Ha: Three major categories of challenges to the Mekong Delta

(03:44:59 PM, 28/09/2017)

Minister Tran Hong Ha delivered a speech at plenary session

Speaking at the morning session of September 27th, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha pointed out three major challenges for the Mekong Delta.

It includes the reduction in forest area,accordingly, the mangrove forest area over 50 years has reduced by 80%; the increase in seasonal and agricultural seasonal exceeds the recovery ability of agricultural land.

The planning and investment development is not synchronous, there is lack of connection while the Mekong Delta is a unified entity which closely linked with the Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong sub-region.

Over-exploitation of groundwater makes the ground sinkandsea level rise increases the risk of flooding. Residential areas are developed and arranged unreasonably; the exploitation of mud and sand together with the lack of alluvium and sediment leads to erosion, ecological imbalance, environmental pollution, biodiversity decline; state management isoverlappingbut lack of coordination; there is the lack of regional access mechanisms and schemes.

In addition, the demand for upstream water exploitation and use increases sharply, that reduces the flow of dry season and the amount of sediment; small floods and sea level rise lead to deeper salinization into the region, the decline of fisheries resources, negative impacts on the aquatic and biodiversity of the region... They are also the challenges in the area.

The leader of the natural resources and environment sector also mentioned the global challenges of climate change such as sea level rise and drought kept increasing while the resilience of the delta was low; risks due to natural disasters, extreme climatic events (rains, storms, cyclones…) were increasingly unpredictable...

Accordingly, Minister Tran Hong Ha pointed out that the Mekong Delta had also benefited from the challenges: increasing economic value, ensuring livelihoods of people through opportunities to develop services from brackishand saline ecosystems in the context of reducing freshwater resources and ecosystems; promoting the development of coastal and mangrove biodiversity.

In addition, climate change also promotes changing cognitive thinking, transforming the development model based on resource depletion into a natural, sustainable and high tolerance model; promoting cooperation, taking advantage of financial resources, transfer technology...

Regarding the vision and direction, according to Minister Tran Hong Ha, the Mekong Delta has developed sustainably, safely and prosperously on the basis of delivering high-quality agriculturalcommodity in combination with services and ecologicaltourism and industry; the infrastructure is planned and developed in the initiative and intelligentdirection with water, climate change adaptation and enhancing the livelihood of the people.

Minister Tran Hong Ha proposed the direction for the Mekong Delta.

Firstly, it is necessary to change the perception of the Mekong Delta as a whole; the shiftof development paradigm must be considered in the general scheme of the delta, in close association with Ho Chi Minh City and the Southern Key Economic Zone, in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Secondly, water resources must be taken into consideration as a core factor, which is central to the development of regional strategies, policies and planning.

Thirdly, the paradigm shift must be based on ecosystems, in accordance with natural laws; it is necessary to combine advanced and modern technologies with locally traditional knowledge and experience.

Fourthly, the transition process requires a long-term vision, prioritizing adaptation to climate change but also taking advantage of opportunities for low carbon and green economy.

Fifthly, the paradigm shift must ensure the stability and livelihood of the people;the people and businesses must be on focus, the State plays the role of leading.

Viet Hung