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The Environments of the Poor, Climate Change and the Green Economy in Viet Nam
by : TRAN, Thi Thu Huong, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Government of Viet Nam Background paper for Conference on: “The environment of the poor”, 24-26 Nov 2010, New Delhi

1. THE KEY ISSUES OF CLIMATE CHANGE INDUCED ENVIRONMENTS OF THE POOR BY GEOGRAPHICAL AND ECOLOGICAL AREA Vietnam is facing a number of impacts of climate change on many aspects, e.g. human life, live hood, natural resources, social structure, infrastructures and economy. Vietnam is considered as one among the countries most seriously impacted by climate change and sea level rise. The poorest, who commonly live in rural areas, are the most vulnerable people impacted by climate change, especially poor people living along the coastal areas and high mountainous areas. (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 2008, p. 10-11) The poor in Vietnam can be divided into three geographical groups such as: - The chronic rural poor, notably in remote uplands who suffer unproductive and degraded soils and inadequate water supplies, who lacks access to common property resources such as forest, and who often are obliged to practice slash-burn cultivation (which yields only a low income and can further degrade the environment). The poorest people in current measure are in these regions. - The coastal/delta poor who suffer environmental hazards unduly, notably floods; who often have to make their living on coastal resources which have been degraded by others, for example through industrial pollution; and who will be most vulnerable to fisheries losses and climate change. The largest number of poor people is in these areas. - The urban poor who suffer from a lack of access to clean water, sanitation and shelter, weak rights to use these resources to generate live hoods, and a range of pollution problems. The highest growth rate of poverty is expected to be into this category. (IIED and UNDP 2009, p.12) These poor communities are affected seriously by number of impacts of climate change as they live in the regions that are most affected by climate change in Vietnam. Temperature increase affects mountainous areas (Northern East, Western East and North Central part) and Northern part delta. Sea level rise has impacts on coastal areas, especially deltas and flooded areas (Mekong River delta, Red River delta and coastal central part), and islands. Floods, flash

floods, and land-slide affect coastal areas (including delta areas and flooded areas: delta and coastal Northern part, Mekong river Delta and coastal central part), and mountainous areas (Northern West, Northern East, North Central part and highlands). Tropical cyclones influence coastal areas (especially coastal central part, Red river delta and Mekong river), and islands. Droughts put at risk Central part (especially South Central part), delta and Northern part midland, Mekong delta and highlands). (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 2008, p. 16) 2. GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS TO ADDRESS THESE ISSUES

To respond to these above issues, the Government of Vietnam has promulgated the National target program to respond to climate change. This program is officially described as the main framework for the management and coordination of climate change activities to achieve sustainable development objectives in the future. Then many ministries have built their actions plans to respond to climate change such as Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and rural development, Ministry of Construction, and Ministry of Industry and Trade. Besides, some provinces/cities have built their action plans to adapt to climate change. The Government of Vietnam also invested more for institutional responses to natural disasters (the key institution is Central Committee for flood and storm control). The system of meteorology and hydrology are upgraded and renewed. National strategies are designed to reduce the risk of disaster, and include a whole series of mesures such as the establishment of disaster forecast centers across the country, the construction of flood corridors, and awareness raising activities. However, these strategies focus on emergency responses to short-term climate extremes and reconstruction after them, rather than long-term adaptation to future climate change. They are also not integrated into wider policies for sustainable rural development and poverty reduction. (Oxfam 2008, p. 49) Moreover, many policies and programs are undertaken by the Government of Vietnam such as credits, medical insurance, houses, schoolarships for the poor, and the National target program to reduce the poor 2006-2010. So that the percentage of the poor in 2010 reduces at around 9.5% (Ministry of Labour-Invalids and Social affairs 2010, p.1). However, one of biggest challenges of Vietnam in facing with climate change is lack of financial resource. The sorts of budgets that the national government and local authorities have at their disposal for adaptation to climate change are clearly inadequate. Besides climate change adaption policies and programs, the Government of Vietnam also has undertaken climate change mitigation programs as followings: National Target Program on Energy Efficiency and Conservation (2006-2011)

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Voluntary certificate : LOTUS Vietnam green rating tool Demand-supply management (DSM) programs Effective energy use in buildings Improvement of energy efficiency of enterprises Economical use of energy in transport sector Exploitation of new energy sources Cleaner production in industry 2020

3. OPPORTUNITIES OF GREEN GROWTH FOR THE ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMY OF THE POOR There has not been any deep research on opportunities of green growth for the environmental economy of the poor in Vietnam yet but as the poor in other countries, the stimulus packages for green growth gives the opportunities of employment to the poor in Vietnam. However, it is short-term impact on employment; the long run impact on net employment is uncertain across most green growth and needs deeper researches. Revenues from carbon taxes or auctioned permits can be used for climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives in developing world in general and in Vietnam in particular. So that it will help the poor in climate resilience. Green growth in general will reduce the emission and save energies therefore it helps reduce the impact of climate change and sustain the natural resources for the Poor’s life (as their life are bases closely on natural resources and climate). Some direct opportunities of growth green to the poor in Vietnam is that the reduction of pollution from the industry will help the poor to reduce the risk to their production and their health caused by polluted environment (e.g. fishes die because of polluted sewage from industrial factories). One more opportunity is that the renewable energy such as solar power and wind energy helps the poor in rural area where the national grid can not reach has electricity to improve their living condition.

REFERENCES 1. Ministry of Labour-Invalids and Social affairs (2010): Report on the implementation of Strategic Orientation on Sustainable Development in Vietnam. Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (2008): National Target Program to respond to climate change. Oxfam (2008): Vietnam: Climate Change Adaptation and Poor People. IIED and UNDP (2009): Integrating environment and development in Vietnam: Achievements, challenges and next steps.

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