Nature Climate Change

 

Responding to rising sea-levels in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta 

Vietnamese communities in the Mekong delta are faced with the substantial impacts of rising sea levels and salinity intrusion. The construction of embankments and dikes has historically been the principal strategy of the Vietnamese Government to mitigate the effects of salinity intrusion on agricultural production. A predicted sea-level rise of 30 cm by the year 2050 is expected to accelerate salinity intrusion. This study combines hydrological, agronomic and behavioural assessments to identify effective adaptation strategies reliant on land use change (soft options) and investments in water infrastructure (hard options). As these strategies are managed within different policy portfolios, the political discussion has polarized between choices of either soft or hard options. This paper argues that an ensemble of hard and soft policies is likely to provide the most effective results for people’s livelihoods in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. The consequences of policy deliberations are likely to be felt beyond the Delta as levels of rice cultivation in the Mekong Delta affects national and global food security.