Climate change-prone Vietnam needs to act now, ADB says

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Governments in Vietnam and other Asia-Pacific countries need to make changes right now as they are directly threatened by climate change, the Asia Development Bank said in a report.

The report "Addressing Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific" said the region is the "most prone to natural disasters, both in terms of the absolute number of disasters and of populations affected."

Rising sea levels due to climate change will cause flooding that will directly affect many communities in the region, mostly in Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, said the report, which was published in Bangkok this month.

It forecasted that 9.5 million Vietnamese people will be at risk of sea level rises in 2050, ranking the country seventh in Asia in terms of threatened population.

Disasters caused by climate change over the past two years have dislocated more than 42 million Asians, according to the report.

Around 31.8 million people including more than 10 million flood stricken victims in Pakistan lost their homes in 2010, and 10.7 million others were forced to leave their homes last year.

Bindu Lohani, vice president of ADB, said environmental disasters have become a major driver of forced migration in Asia.

"While many of those displaced returned to their homes as conditions improved, others were less fortunate, struggling to build new lives elsewhere after incurring substantial personal losses," he said in the report.

He called for governments of Asia and the Pacific to take urgent steps to reduce the vulnerability.

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"[They] can choose to turn the threat of climate-induced migration into an opportunity to improve lives, advance the development process, and adapt to long-term environmental change by altering development patterns, strengthening disaster risk management, investing in social protection, and facilitating the movement of labor.

"While some actions will require regional or global action, many steps can be taken within individual countries."

According to the bank's calculations, the countries need to spend around US$40 billion each year until 2050 to prevent damage from global climate change.

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