Coastal Forum confirms nature-based solutions are key for climate change adaptation

22 October 2013 | News story

More than 200 delegates representing local communities, government agencies, academics, NGOs and media from Cambodia, Thailand and Viet Nam gathered together at the Second Annual Coastal Forum from 15-18 October in Soc Trang Province, Viet Nam, to share experiences, lessons learned and best practices for climate change adaptation in the coastal zone, highlighting nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based adaptation approaches.

More than 200 delegates representing local communities, government agencies, academics, NGOs and media from Cambodia, Thailand and Viet Nam gathered together at the Second Annual Coastal Forum from 15-18 October in Soc Trang Province, Viet Nam, to share experiences, lessons learned and best practices for climate change adaptation in the coastal zone, highlighting nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based adaptation approaches.

The event was organised by IUCN, the Vietnam Administration for Seas and Islands (VASI), German Development Cooperation (GIZ), the Sustainable Deverlopment Foundation (SDF) and Soc Trang Provincial Peoples' Committee as part of the project “Building Resilience to Climate Change in Coastal Southeast Asia” (or BCR) – a four year, EU funded action focused in eight target provinces in three countries along the coastline between Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok.

Ecosytem-based adapation approaches are readily available to poor people, are cost-effective and provide a range of co-benefits such as biodiversity conservation and the strengthening of local institutions. After two years of implementation in eight coastal provinces of Thailand (Chanthaburi and Trat), Cambodia (Koh Kong and Kampot), and Viet Nam (Soc Trang, Can Gio, Kien Giang and Ben Tre) more than 30 pilot activities, specifically tailored to the unique conditions of each site, have been designed and are being implemented to enhance the adaptive capacity of people and the ecosystems on which they depend to cope with the anticipated impacts of climate change and to help plan for disaster risk reduction.

In Cambodia, Koh Kong is home to one of the biggest mangrove forests in Southeast Asia, and Kampot includes the largest seagrass bed in the region. These ecosystems greatly contribute to livelihoods and offer protection from extreme weather events for local people. However, challenges such as infrastructure deveopment, sand mining, and hydropower development in the watershed areas are significant issues of concern to people's livelihood security and safety.

In response the project is working together with provincial authorities in both provinces to develop appropriate spatial planning, coastal zoning and management plans. In Kampot, IUCN recently completed the first detailed biological surveys of the seagrass beds, noting a new species record for Cambodia and the presence of a number of threatened species. Recommendations from this work may include proposals for the establishment of new protected areas. In Paem Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary the project is supporting the development of the first protected area management plan for this important mangrove area, and for the first time is including climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction elements in the plan.

The scope of work on ten recently launched pilot activities in Viet Nam includes mangrove reforestation, awareness raising, provision of clean water and environmental sanitation, eco-tourism development for poor mangrove dependent communities, and changes to fishery, agriculture and aquaculture practices.

The project is supporting a transition to less intensive prawn farming systems which maintain at least 50% of mangrove tree cover in the landscape. Research has shown that while the yield of prawns is lower, the cost of inputs is also much lower and the risk of disease and loss of the crop is also greatly reduced. At the same time, these so-called “mangrove-prawn polyculture systems” also provide fish, crabs and shellfish which can account for up to 30% of total income, making them a viable and attractive alternative to intensive prawn farming.

Finding these win-win solutions is particularly important in and around protected areas such as the Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve where the project is also working. In the Can Gio Bioshpere Reserve, whose mangroves provide crucial protection to Ho Chi Minh City, the project has conducted an economic valuation of the mangrove ecological services, as part of the process of establishing a mechanism for Payment of Environmental Services for mangroves – a potentially important tool for sustainable financing of mangrove protected areas.

In Thailand, the initatives include mangrove restoration and management, erosion management, coastal spatial planning, community rights on natural resources management, livelihood diversification, crab-banks, Irrawddy dolphin conservation, participatory research on use of different fishing gear, and youth awareness raising. These various activities are being mainstreamed into sub-district development plans for long-term sustainability.

“Coastal communities in these three neighbouring countries are facing similar climate-induced destinies,” says Dr. Robert Mather, Head of IUCN Southeast Asia. “The reality is they all have to find ways to adapt to live in this changing climate. While ‘hard’ engineering and infrastructure projects certainly have a role to play in resilience building, these pilot projects demonstrate that development based on bottom-up planning and ‘soft’ solutions provided by natural ecosystems are instrumental in bringing about desired solutions for coastal communities in adapting to climate change.”

 


This image shows the courtship behavior of Indian Bull frogs (Holobatrachus tigerinus). During the monsoon, the breeding males become bright yellow in color, while females remain dull. The prominent blue vocal sacs of male produce strong nasal mating call.