Integration of climate-change adaption strategies into policy development, especially at the community level, is needed to cope with weather changes in Vietnam's coastal areas, speakers urged at a workshop held in Can Gio last week.

Community and ecosystem-based solutions are badly needed as well, according to participants.

More than 70 delegates from four major coastal areas met last week at the Building Coastal Resilience (BCR) End of Project workshop. Representatives from Kien Giang, Ben Tre, Soc Trang provinces and HCM City's Can Gio district attended the meeting.

The workshop reviewed the Preah Sihanouk Declaration, formulated during the Third Annual BCR Coastal Forum held last month in Cambodia's Sihanoukville.

The BCR project has been implemented in Vietnam for four years.

Speaking at the event, Doan Van Son, Vice Chairman of Can Gio district's People's Committee, said the district had an extensive forest area, covering over 300,000 hectares, of which a large amount was dedicated to mangroves.

"The mangrove forest supports marine life and aquaculture initiatives, but the area is vulnerable to climate change," he said.

Andrew Wyatt, Mekong Delta Programme Manager at IUCN Vietnam, said the BCR project had helped further the goals of the National Target Programme for Climate Change, launched in 2011.

The challenge was how to clearly and effectively communicate climate change at a community level, he said.

Cao Huy Binh, Deputy Director of the Can Gio Forest Management Forest Board, said the BCR project had helped the district improve local livelihoods in the internationally recognised biosphere reserve.

In addition, community working groups developed through the BCR project had contributed to the improvement of natural-resource management and use, he said.

During the workshop, provincial participants had a chance to visit parts of the forested area and coastal belt in Can Gio.

Participants could understand how the area vitally supports marine and animal life by observing diverse livelihood activities, such as snail-raising, oyster cultivation, shrimp aquaculture, as well as bat and bird conservation zones.

However, Can Gio like the rest of coastal Vietnam, is vulnerable to climate changes that have already become more intense.

The impact of climate changes includes rising sea levels and salinity intrusion.

Workshop teams discussed alternative solutions and methods of community involvement, which IUCN will use as valuable feedback for its work in the future.

Stronger community integration and collaboration in BCR activities was also needed, the delegates agreed.

Increasing community awareness about climate change was also imperative, they said.

Stronger coordination between provincial departments in Soc Trang should be an example adapted by other provinces.

Provincial representatives said that training sessions and technical support provided by IUCN Vietnam had been beneficial.

However, there were requests for additional support, such training on finance. Further assistance on exploring soft and hard engineering solutions to combat climate change was also needed, they said.

Andrew Wyatt, Mekong Delta Programme Manager at IUCN Vietnam, said: "The BCR project ends this year, but this is not the end of the engagement with IUCN in Vietnam. Other projects and activities will continue, such as the initiative Mangroves for the Future."

He said the next national plan for climate change would begin soon after 2015.

"All the input, remarks and recommendations from the meeting have been invaluable," Wyatt said.

During the meeting, attendees proceeded to ratify the Preah Sihanouk Declaration.

The Declaration is essentially directed at moving toward effective climate-change adaptation action, based on what was learned from the BCR project.

The workshop will submit its reports to the Vietnam Administration of Seas and Islands (VASI), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the donor – the European Union (EU).-VNA