Background

Climate change is a global challenge but a lot can be done at the local level to minimize impacts and capture opportunities. While every effort must be made to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, we must also accelerate efforts to prepare for those changes that are inevitable. The world must learn to “avoid the unmanageable and manage the unavoidable.”
 
Adaptation will make a major difference to how hard the impacts of climate change are felt. Adaptation involves reducing vulnerability (or increasing resilience) by reducing exposure to climate risks, reducing sensitivity to those risks, and/or increasing capacity to cope with those risks. The conservation and restoration of natural ecosystems are increasingly recognised as fundamental to effective adaptation. Community-based approaches are equally important.

Objectives and approach

The project will strengthen the ability of local government and local people to plan for, and adapt to, future climate risks in eight coastal provinces between Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok: Can Gio, Ben Tre, Soc Trang, and Kien Giang in Vietnam; Kampot and Koh Kong in Cambodia; and Trat and Chanthaburi in Thailand (see map). Ben Tre and Soc Trang are located in the Mekong Delta, which is one of the areas of the world that is predicted to be most affected by sea level rise.

IUCN and project partners will work together to build capacity in these provinces so that local government agencies can conduct vulnerability assessments; identify pilot activities to reduce vulnerability; design, implement, monitor the success of these activities; and carry out cost-benefit analysis and feasibility assessments for replicating pilot actions over a wider coastal area.

The project will identify best practices being developed by local people and provide opportunities for communities in different parts of the coastline to learn from each other. The project will use top-down and bottom-up approaches to ensure policy messages are disseminated at all levels. Networking, study visits, and an annual forum will be used to share knowledge with the other 12 provinces that make up the coastal corridor between Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok.

Partners

The main donor to the project is the European Union, which has provided a grant of € 2,450,000 (or about 80% of the total budget) from its Environment Thematic Programme.
 
In Viet Nam, the project will partner with MONRE’s Viet Nam Administration of Sea’s and Islands (VASI), which is responsible for implementing the National Target Program to Respond to Climate Change in coastal provinces; and GIZ, which is implementing integrated coastal area management projects in Soc Trang and Kien Giang. The project will also collaborate with WWF in Ben Tre, the Institute of Tropical Biology in Ho Chi Minh City, MONRE’s Department of Meteorology, Hydrology, and Climate Change, and Can Tho University.

In Thailand, the project will partner with the Sustainable Development Foundation, which is already a partner in Mangroves for the Future (MFF) and specializes in improving community resilience to natural and human induced disasters and building capacity of professionals for integrated coastal management. The project will also collaborate with the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.

In Cambodia, the project will work with the National Climate Change Office and the Department of Wetlands and Coastal Resources.

Activities

Assessment of vulnerability: working together with scientists, local governments, and local communities, the project will develop and apply methodological and analytical frameworks for climate change and disaster risk reduction (DRR) vulnerability assessments. The Southeast Asia System for Analysis, Research, and Training (SEA-START) regional centre in Bangkok will support this process by downscaling climate change models.

Capacity development of the different stakeholders: the project will provide tools and methodologies, processes, technical advice, and training to: conduct vulnerability assessments in target provinces; develop provincial adaptation approaches; implement and evaluate pilot actions in selected communities; climate proof sectoral investments; and mainstream these into development plans of the eight focal provinces.

Implementation of pilot actions in selected communities: in each province, communities will be selected where the project will work with local people and local government to identify and implement pilot actions. This will subsequently be subject to participatory evaluation to capture lessons learned to improve future planning at the local and provincial levels.

Design and implementation of multisector plans and strategies: the project will support the formulation of short and long-term adaptation options that are cost-effective and locally appropriate and can be integrated into provincial development and sectoral plans. Existing methods and tools will be refined on the basis of experience and a toolkit to support vulnerability assessments and adaptation planning in coastal communities will be developed. The project will deliver policy recommendations to planners and decision-makers based on implementation experience.

Cooperation with neighbouring provinces and countries on climate change adaptation and DRR: the project will support networking among the coastal provinces to ensure sharing of ideas and approaches between sites as the basis for developing a coordinated approach. A regional coastal forum for information sharing and exchange amongst local communities, civil society, scientists, and government agencies will be held annually.

Duration

The project will run from January 2011 to December 2014. It will be managed by IUCN’s Asia Regional Office in Bangkok.