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Vietnam Today

Mekong Delta Forum opens

Released at: 11:04, 04/02/2015

Mekong Delta Forum opens

More than 200 in attendance as Forum discusses challenges facing Mekong Delta region.

by Doanh Doanh

The Mekong Delta Forum 2015 opened on February 2 to seek new solutions to the challenges from ongoing development and climate change and build for the region's improved and sustainable livelihood.

The Forum was organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Southwest Steering Committee, in collaboration with the World Bank, the Embassy of Australia and the Embassy of the Netherlands.

Present at the Forum were Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Minh Quang, and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat, as well as the vice-chairmen from provincial people's committees (PPCs) from the 13 Mekong Delta provinces. Also present were high-level representatives from different development partners like the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the governments of Australia, Netherlands, Japan, and Germany, and other organizations such as IUCN and IFAD.

Speaking at the Forum, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai noted the importance of the Delta in the development of the whole southern region of Vietnam and of the country as a whole. "The region is facing enormous challenges relating to water resources, salinity, and other negative impacts of climate change," he said. "Recognizing these challenges, the government has been instructing and implementing the integration of climate change adaptation activities in socio-economic plans. The Mekong Delta region receives special attention from the government and we have high political will and prioritized investments for the integrated and sustainable development of this region, towards a better future for this rich but vulnerable land."

The Forum followed an innovative interactive format, using break-out groups with provincial participants from departments of natural resources and environment (DONREs), agriculture and rural development (DARDs) and planning and investment (DPIs) to discuss and debate the issues and challenges and propose solutions for three key sub-regions in the Delta.

The two day Forum discussed the main principles outlined in the Mekong Delta Plan, which articulated a vision for the integrated development of the Mekong Delta. The break-out sessions worked well to help participants move the agenda from identifying the key challenges to discussing strategies on what to do next and why and when. "How we can move from a shared framework of general recommendations to more specific concrete actions requires three critical elements," suggested Ms. Victoria Kwakwa, the World Bank Country Director to Vietnam. "The first is to strengthen and improve the institutional mechanisms that enable the inter-provincial and inter-sectoral coordination needed for the Mekong Delta. The second is to identify low-regret investments, and relevant climate-smart policies, that are in line with the Mekong Delta Plan recommendations. The third is to proactively mobilize resources to establish a financing mechanism for the Mekong Delta, which enables and promotes strategic investment in the face of development and climate change."

The Mekong Delta Forum aims to deepen understanding of the integrated framework for building the Delta's resilience, demonstrate through case studies the typical trade-offs involved and how to make integrated and long-term decisions through multi-sectoral collaboration. More than 200 delegates from the central government, provincial authorities, academic institutions, research agencies, embassies and international organizations attended the Forum.

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