Vietnam metro urged to consider climate change, rethink development plans

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Ho Chi Minh City's authorities want to develop its coastline with sea businesses and new urban areas by 2025, but experts warned them to heed threats posed by climate change

Local and foreign experts have asked Ho Chi Minh City authorities to proceed cautiously with plans to develop its coastline, as flooding is set to worsen in the coming years due to climate change.

At a recent meeting with the city's Department of Natural Resources and Environment, experts from Rotterdam City of the Netherlands said HCMC flood levels will reach 12 centimeters by 2020.

Flooding will increase another five centimeters by 2030 and reach some 30 centimeters by 2050, according to the experts who have been helping the Vietnamese city develop a program to adapt to climate change since 2011.

Rising sea levels will cause salinization to occur further inland, affecting the sources used by water plants and finally the supply of clean water for people.

Nguyen Ky Phung, head of the department's Science Management division, also warned that the city's southern areas will be most affected by the expected rise in sea level.

Meanwhile, the city's authorities have planned to develop logistics services, ports and related industries along its 17-kilometer coast by 2025, without having considered the effects climate change will have.

The experts said the plan, for instance, fails to provide solutions for problems such as flood prevention or providing people with clean water in the event the Saigon River becomes salinized.

They also raised their concerns over plans to expand HCMC's southern areas, saying that doing so would affect the Can Gio Mangrove Forest, a UNESCO-recognized biosphere that plays an important role in preventing the coastal erosion.

It is therefore unsuitable to develop urban areas in the south, they said, stressing that HCMC authorities need to reconsider their plans.

Dr. Bui Trong Vinh, an environmental geology expert at the HCMC University of Technology, said in order to develop coastal areas, authorities need to build protective dykes and dams like Rotterdam has done, in order to cope with potential floods.

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UN expert says Vietnam needs plan B to combat climate change

Early this month authorities from HCMC and Rotterdam signed a memorandum of understanding that extends the two cities' cooperative efforts to help the Vietnamese city combat the effects of climate change through 2015.

The cooperative program, which had previously expired, began in March 2011 under a strategic partnership Vietnam and the Netherlands signed regarding water management and adapting to climate change. 

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