Experts talk about measure to enhance regional coordination in the Mekong Delta.(Photo: baodautu.vn)

Hanoi (VNA) – Measures to enhance regional connectivity in the Mekong Delta, which is important to Vietnam’s economy but also a region highly susceptible to effects of climate change, were discussed at a workshop in Hanoi on December 19.

The Mekong Delta is the southernmost region with 12 provinces and one centrally-run city. It accounts for 12 percent of the surface area and over 19 percent of the population of Vietnam.

With over 700km of coastline and a dense river and canal network, the delta is strongly influenced by tidal waves and the Mekong River.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Van Hieu said that effective regional connectivity and coordination are crucial to the harmonious and sustainable development of the region. They will help deal with conflicts during the development process and ensure the harmony of both short- and long-term interests, he said.

Tran Duy Dong, Director of the Department for Local and Regional Economy under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, said the Mekong Delta holds a particularly important role in the management and use of water resources, economic development, the settlement of social issues, and in coping with major challenges like climate change.

Its regional connectivity has received much attention due to the sensitivity of local natural and social systems to environmental changes and the accumulative impacts of economic activities in the region.

Dong added that the localities have also expressed their wishes of boosting connectivity. As such, the Mekong Delta became the first and only of the six socio-economic regions in Vietnam to pilot regional socio-economic development connectivity under the Prime Minister’s Decision No.593/QD-TTg, issued in April 2016.

Bui Quang Tuan, Director of the Vietnam Institute of Economics, said that connectivity effectiveness in the Mekong Delta remains modest. For the most part, localities have only just signed cooperation documents. They still lack coordination in investment promotion and agricultural production, while the region’s information database has yet to be arranged in a way that can serve connectivity.

According to Dong, to develop regional connectivity, the localities need to be aware that the purpose of this work is to optimise resources to serve development. They should devise a coordination mechanism to ensure a ‘common voice’ is fostered and associate each party’s interests with common interests. The localities also need to ensure financial resources for connection activities.

World Bank Country Director in Vietnam Ousmane Dione said the Mekong Delta is now at an important turning point of development, adding that strong coordination is critical to the region’s sustainable development.

Echoing the view, Acting Ambassador of Australia to Vietnam Justin Baguley said that developing the economy, adapting to climate change, and developing regional infrastructure in the Mekong Delta require a strong inter-regional coordination mechanism for all relevant provinces, ministries, and sectors.

Dutch expert Tanya Huizer suggested that a particular law should be built for the Mekong Delta, while Bui Quang Tuan called for a regional coordination council to be set up to enhance the combined strength of the whole region.–VNA