By Van Nam - The Saigon Times Daily
HCMC – Worsening impacts of climate change including intense typhoons, salinity intrusion, floods and droughts could threaten food security for both Vietnam and other countries if essential measures are not taken immediately, according to environmental scientists who joined the 2010 Mekong Environment and Climate Symposium.
The two-day symposium, which was organized in HCMC by the Mekong River Commission and ended on Tuesday, attracted many scientists from organizations and countries sharing the Mekong basin including Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Some scientists told the symposium that more direct negative impacts of a changing environment and climate change due to global warming were damaging fisheries, agricultural production, forestry, human health and water resources of 13 provinces in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam.
Aslam Perwaiz, manager of the Commission’s Flood Management Program, said that if urgent measures were not taken immediately to adapt to climate change, the delta could face a serious problem of food shortage by 2030.
The 13 provinces vulnerable to the annual Mekong floods are Long An, Tien Giang, Dong Thap, Ben Tre, Vinh Long, Tra Vinh, An Giang, Hau Giang, Soc Trang, Kien Giang, Bac Lieu, Ca Mau and Can Tho.
Perwaiz said the threats to food security in the delta could emerge by 2030 when the region’s rainfall from January to July will have decreased by around 20% compared to 1980, and by more than 25% in An Giang, Kien Giang and the entire Ca Mau Peninsula.
Furthermore, the reduction of rainfall together with the late arrivals of the rainy seasons will make the periods of drought fiercer. “In addition, the increasing environmental risks due to the rapid urbanization are resulting in difficulties in living conditions in the delta,” he said.
Nguyen Van Sanh, professor of the Mekong Delta Research and Development Institute of Can Tho University, said the Mekong Delta was considered a large wetland with rich biodiversity for food security and fishery, contributing at least 50% of total paddy output, 90% of rice output for export, 60% of total fishery output and 50% of meat and egg production supplying other regions of the country.
The professor said worsening impacts of climate change comprising salt intrusion, droughts and intense typhoons had been threatening the food security of Vietnam and other countries.
“With fiercer environmental risks in the delta, triple rice cropping will be reduced by 1.8% and double rice cropping will be reduced by 2.7% during mid-2030s.”
To curb the negative impacts of climate change in the region, Sanh suggested that all 13 provinces needed to immediately carry out a comprehensive regional approach for adapting to increasing environmental risks.
He explained that the delta must protect its biodiversity and apply new, flexible methods for agricultural and fishery production against the changing weather.
“If we don’t have a suitable regional approach and community-based preparedness to adapt to climate change then local farmers will be fiercely affected by worsening environmental risks in years to come.”