Can Tho University (CTU) in collaboration with the Vietnam Academy for Water Resources (VAWR), the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and Seoul National University (SNU) organised on 23rd October 2021 the 1st Mekong Virtual Symposium “Response to Development and Climate Change Impacts in the Mekong River Basin – a Call for Solutions and Adaptation”.
The 1st Mekong Virtual Symposium
The symposium brought together over 100 international and national scientists from a wide range of disciplines, national institutes, as well as representatives from the affected provinces and cities of the Mekong Delta. The symposium provided an important, valuable platform to demonstrate innovative ideas that encourage a policy environment grounded in more sustainable science and data for the benefit of the region.
Associate. Professor. Doctor Nguyen Hieu Trung, Vice Rector of Can Tho University – Director of the DRAGON-Mekong Institute in the opening speech
Associate. Professor. Doctor Van Pham Dang Tri – Vice Director of DRAGON-Mekong Institute presenting on changes of the delta system under climate change and socio-economic development: The case study of the Mekong Delta
Dr. Yadu Pokhrel with the presentation on climate change, dams, and hydrologic changes in the Lower Mekong River basin
Dr. Jiaguo Qi reporting on the role of hydro dams in the MRB water, energy and food nexus challenges and opportunities
Dr. Nguyen Nghia Hung presenting on key sustainable development challenges over the Vietnam Mekong Delta – Brief overview
Dr. Matthew Andersen sharing on NexView model links transboundary groundwater dynamics with socioeconomic impacts
Prof. Nguyen Van Thinh reporting on investigation of sea level rise in the coastal areas of Vietnam Mekong Delta
Dr. Philippe Gourbesville presenting on Flood disasters: strategies for mitigation and resilience
Key takeaways and policy recommendations include:
- Human resources and capacities in the Mekong Delta must be maintained and strengthened. Acknowledgement of the existing potentials and further investment in human resources will increase awareness and the ability to respond timely and appropriately in times of change and crisis.
- The compounding risks of climate change and socioeconomic development pose grave challenges for the lives, livelihoods, land and water resources of the Mekong Delta. Impacts increasingly challenge the sustainable development trajectory not only of the affected provinces themselves, but also the county as a whole and the regional economic system.
- Action is needed to better understand the drivers and spatial-temporal dynamics of change. Improved knowledge on both physical and social components, their inter-linkages within the delta system, and the basin as a whole is required. In this respect, monitoring, forecasting, and scenario development need to be improved.
- A system perspectivefor the nexus resources of land, water, energy, and food offers benefits by providing the opportunity to understand the effects of current and future drivers of change, support for holistic planning and for identifying trade-offs, synergies, and adaptive pathway designs. This benefits the sustainable utilisation of resources, optimising the environmental and social outcomes.
- There is a strong and growing call for increased data sharing among government agencies, funding organisations, and scientists. Managed access mechanisms need to be developed incorporating both data generator sand data users to make scientific findings more accessible and impactful and to encourage new science. Current data governance structures and sharing arrangements hinder the use of science-based information,the re-use of data in planning, indicator development, monitoring, policy evaluation, and the sustainable management of resources.
- Comprehensive frameworks, methods and tools for decision-support are lacking. Research on upstream hydropower development, flow volumes ,intensive sand mining, sediment transport, riverbank and coastal erosion, pollution, subsidence, drought, saltwater intrusion, land use change, etc.,need to be action-orientated with clearly identified end-users and with results in a format able to inform decision-makers in better understanding the risks and uncertainties. Here, reliable evidence-based policy advice and recommendations are required towards preparing and strengthening disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and contributing to sustainable regional growth.
- Knowledge-based solutions and technological advances should be introduced and appropriately implemented. Care and precaution should be taken in regards to the unknown ecological implications, community acceptance or political feasibility. Solutions should remain people-centred addressing the needs and aspirations of the delta inhabitants. Proposed solutions should guide adaptation decisions through multi-dimensional assessments and evaluations of solutions and adaptation pathways.
- Continued dialogue and collaborations with international experts, regional stakeholders and policy-makers, as well as with affected communities,are critical for supporting resilience and adaptation planning in response to both climatic and socio-economic change.