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Rising sea levels to blame for many HCM City floods
Wed, Jun 16, 2010
Viet Nam News/Asia News Network

HCM CITY - Staying one step ahead of climate change and not avoiding direct confrontation with the phenomenon was one of many adaptation strategies proposed yesterday at a conference in HCM City.

The conference identified several approaches, strategies and measures to adapt to climate change as HCM City pursued its development goals, including learning from the experiences of Rotterdam City.

Nguyen Thai Lai, deputy minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said the climate change impacts challenged the city, but they should also be seen as an opportunity to "identify directions for development."

The rise in sea levels, increasing temperatures and rainfall were flooding around 117 wards regularly during the rainy season, said Dao Anh Kiet, director of HCM City's Department of Natural Resources and Environment. "With a 75cm sea level rise in 2050, 10 per cent of the city's area will be totally flooded," he said.

Outlining the strategy of keeping one step ahead of the weather phenomenon, Dao Xuan Hoc, deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development advised the city to stick to its plan of moving towards the sea.

"Developing the city in the eastern direction is one of the ways for us to adapt to climate change actively," he said.

Vu Thuy Hai of the Urban and Rural Planning Sub-Institute under the Ministry of Construction said the Prime Minister had in January approved a master plan for HCM City for the 2025-35 period that included the development direction to the sea.

Under this plan, the city developed port townships in Hiep Phuoc Ward, taking advantage of the Soai Rap estuary, as well as enhanced urban development in the way to Cai Mep - Thi Vai estuary in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, she said.

Tredo Vellinga of the Port of Rotterdam said moving ports from the inner city to the coastal area was a wise move that his city had also taken as an adaptation measure, taking back inland spaces for residential development.

He recommended that HCM City assess the effects of climate change on the development of low-lying and flood prone areas and develop research programmes to gather evidence on climate change impacts.

Velinga said it was necessary to keep the original geometry of tributaries and to control the discharge of waste into rivers.

Arnoud Molenaar, climate adaptation director of Rotterdam City praised the initiative shown by HCM City authorities "to act in time and start in time... to adapt well to the situation of climate change impacts."

He said Rotterdam was trying to ensure that all its plans and projects including supply of water and power were aligned with its long-term development vision.

Some Vietnamese participants at the conference didn't feel the application of Dutch models might be suited for HCM City because it has a more complex hydrology system compared with Rotterdam.

An official of the Southern Institute for Irrigation Planning called for prioritising pressing needs. "We should deal first with the matter of irrigation for the city and prioritise it rather than finding approaches to move to the sea."

Kiet noted that the city's strategy for climate change adaptation and city planning has been approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment but it could not be prioritised because the work needed to be coordinated by the ministry for the whole region, including the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces.

-Viet Nam News/Asia News Network

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