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2019-11-11 02:48

VUSTA's Position Paper to the National Mekong Forum 2019

On June 17, 2019, within the framework of Mekong Delta Forum 2019, Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA) organized the seminar on “Participation of social-professional organizations and scientific and technological organizations in supporting the community in the context of climate change adaptation and sustainable development in Mekong Delta”. The workshop aimed to provide a forum for scientists and organizations to discuss and propose solutions for sustainable development of Mekong Delta from their practical research, application and implementation of community initiatives.

The workshop participants greatly appreciated and acknowledged the Government's strong commitment in the fight against global climate change in general and the efforts and investment for sustainable development of Mekong Delta in particular shown by the participation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol in 1998; ratification the Paris Agreement in 2015; issue of a separate resolution on sustainable development of Mekong Delta adapting to climate change (Resolution 120/NQ-CP 2017).

Recognizing the complexity of climate change that requires interdisciplinary links to mitigate unpredictable losses to the lives of people in Mekong Delta. It also requires flexible, diversified and timely approaches to meet the needs of the community. Scientific and technological organizations and social organizations in general who have capacity and experience to work with the community would be a quick reaction force in order to support the community to strengthen capacity of policy implementation and self-implementation the initiatives.

Workshop participants exchanged experience and proposed solutions for the core issues of sustainable development of Mekong Delta such as water resources management, renewable energy, environmental protection, and development of sustainable agricultural value chains contributing to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change in Mekong Delta. Solutions initiated from the community which promoted people's creativity have brought about many positive, sustainable and effective results. Taking initiatives and promoting that such requires the recognition, cooperation and sharing of state management agencies, partners, organizations, businesses and people.

The seminar then reached a consensus to recommend the following issues:

1. It is important to recognize the role and facilitate the participation of non-governmental organizations in the sustainable development of Mekong Delta, especially the mechanisms that help to connect and collaborate with stakeholders and opportunities of accessing to resources.

Socio-professional organizations, scientific and technological organizations and other social organizations have made continuous efforts to accompany the community and the Government in solving social, economic and environmental issues in general and responding to climate change in particular. A common approach used by organizations is to proactively collaborate with one another to gather and strengthen expertise and resources. The outcomes of community development projects implemented by organizations have been recognized by the community, partners contributing significantly to the sustainable development of Mekong Delta in recent years.

Organizations play a major role in connecting, cooperating, mobilizing the resources of stakeholders, including local governments, businesses, donors and people in the community to jointly implement useful solutions to help people in adapting to climate change, protecting the environment and improving people's lives.

2. Science and technology, the linkage and cooperation between the parties is a key solution to address the issues in Mekong Delta, including building value chains in agriculture.

Industry 4.0 is taking place all over the world and having a strong impact on offering many possibilities for building the sustainable agricultural value chain of Mekong Delta. It is necessary to have close cooperation between local governments, scientific associations, trade associations and businesses to build and develop brands of Mekong Delta; apply technology in sharing the supply chain management system, farm to fork traceability; ensure food safety and export requirements; call for investment; facilitate agricultural insurance thus increasing value and competitiveness of agricultural products and creating sustainable jobs for people.

3. Solutions for managing water from the community

Vietnam's Mekong Delta plays an important role in water security, food and socio-economic development of the whole country as well as people’s life in Mekong Delta. The lives and livelihood cannot be separated from water sources and health freshwater ecosystems. Communities must have rights to raise their voices and decide on water management projects from the conceptual design stage to the end of the operational phase. The promotion of community consultation activities is not limited to those directly affected by the water exploitation project but also to indirectly affected people as well as scientists and organizations having the same concerns.

Vietnam needs appropriate policies to protect its legitimate rights, maintain  mutually beneficial water-based  cooperation for all the co- riparian and compliance with international laws. That’s the best way for the sustainable development and for ensuring water, food and regional security. Rivers in general and Mekong river in particular, water resource is an asset of the nations which must be respected and shared. The state needs creating mechanisms to encourage the engagement of social organizations, units, agencies, scientists and communities in activities of protection and sustainable development water resources of the Mekong basin.

4. Sustainable energy solutions from the community

Mekong Delta has a tremendous advantage in renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, biomass, wave and tidal power. Climate change can make these factors stronger. The exploitation of these renewable energy sources becomes a strategy to turn climate change risks into exploitation advantages.

Sustainable development of Mekong Delta needs to be associated with the development of clean energy with advantages of i) helping to ensure energy security by exploiting the wind and solar resources which is a natural advantage to meet local energy demand; ii) avoiding, reducing risks and impact on the ecological environment which is likely vulnerable and especially avoiding negative impacts on water, soil, and air which are important inputs for agricultural and fishery products in the region; iii) helping to quickly achieve the goal of rural electrification and access to electricity for households that are currently without power; iv) creating opportunities for investment, economic development and employment for localities; v) providing opportunities for development that combines sustainable agriculture with clean energy if appropriate policies are available; vi) contributing to reduce challenges for water, food and energy security.

It is essential to have encouraged and supported policies from the State, guidance from scientists and organizations in developing sustainable energy solutions, such as: prioritizing policies and finance to deploy electricity access to off-grid households with renewable energy; piloting and developing mechanisms and policies to pave the way for integrated development which combines renewable energy with agriculture, fisheries and tourism; pay attention to the application of renewable energy at diversified and integrated scales, especially among policies to encourage households and production facilities to develop rooftop solar power and sustainable energy solutions at household and community levels; creating favourable conditions for science and technology organizations to transfer knowledge, support community initiatives to take part in energy transition and climate change response in Mekong Delta.

VUSTA and its affiliated organizations will continue to accompany the State's efforts in responding to climate change and contribute to sustainable development of Mekong Delta./.

Author:  Dương Thi Nga

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