Mekong Delta should shift towards adapting to climate change: PM hinh anh 1Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc speaks at the conference (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chaired a conference reviewing two-year implementation of the Government’s Resolution 120/NQ-CP on climate resilient and sustainable development of the Mekong Delta region.

Speaking at the conference held in Ho Chi Minh City on June 18, PM Phuc said a large number of locals and businesses are not ready for natural disasters and climate change despite increasing phenomena of climate change. As such, they have yet to take specific actions for green agricultural and industrial development.

He noted climate change not only is a challenge to the growth of a nation but also contains opportunities for changing the direction of development.

The PM cited as an example the case of the Mekong Delta, where saltwater intrusion as a climate change impact poses challenges to rice cultivation in the delta but create favourable conditions to develop shrimp farming and processing, which brings much higher economic benefits and added value compared to rice production.

Therefore, the goal is not to fight against climate change but to conquer and adapt to it, turning challenges into opportunities for restructuring toward sustainable production, the government leader said.

Reviewing the implementation of Resolution 120 in the past two years, Phuc lauded proactive work by relevant ministries, sectors and localities that have resulted in initial positive outcomes.

He said there is a need for measures to improve public awareness on climate change and spread effective models that are run under the motto of ‘The Government advocates, businesses act, and people respond’.

Accordingly, the Government allocates resources, enterprises invest in specific projects to build valuable trademark, while the people respond by raising their awareness and joining production restructuring activities to adapt to climate change.

The PM requested that ministries and sectors work with Mekong Delta localities to study suitable planning for rice and fruit cultivation and aquatic farming areas that help build a production ecosystem and cut costs for businesses.

The lack of capital in the Mekong Delta is the “bottleneck” in the implementation of infrastructure building and climate change adaptation projects, according to the PM.

He ordered the State Bank to study a mechanism to mobilise capital from various sources and use it effectively for development, prioritising investment in infrastructure to improve business environment, reduce production costs, and facilitate goods circulation.

The PM urged localities in the region to boost cooperation to cope with climate change. Ho Chi Minh City should be the “conductor” in coordinating regional connectivity and pioneer in the implementation of the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change.

He tasked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment with collecting solutions and ideas of ministries, departments and experts, then submit them to him for the promulgation of a directive for the implementation of the resolution on climate resilient and sustainable development of the Mekong Delta region.

The Mekong Delta makes up 19 percent of the country’s population and contributes up to 50 percent of the national rice output, 65 percent of aquaculture products, 70 percent of fruits, 95 percent of exported rice, and 60 percent of exported fish.

It has a favourable location in trade with countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).

However, the delta is facing a number of challenges posed by climate change, especially rising sea level.

High-speed economic development in localities has caused environmental pollution, ecological imbalance, land subsidence, groundwater depletion, and coastal erosion.

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha said over the two years of implementing Resolution 120/NQ-CP issued by the Prime Minister in 2017, the delta recorded an impressive GDP growth rate of 7.8 percent in 2018, the highest level in the past four years and higher than the average level of the country (7.08 percent).

The export turnover of the whole region hit 15.7 billion USD for the first time in 2018.

As of June 2019, the delta had 528 communes recognised as new rural areas, fulfilling 41.06 percent of the yearly target.

To push ahead with the implementation of the resolution, Ha stressed the urgent need to study suitable institutions for the Mekong Delta, which will have power to identify development priorities, propose specific mechanisms and policies and build investment projects that generate inter-regional benefits.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment asked the Government to instruct ministries, agencies and localities to focus on some key tasks like building and deploying major projects, and developing multi-purpose infrastructure.

It also suggested building a master plan on land, water resources and maritime space, which will serve as the foundation for ministries, agencies and localities to review and adjust socio-economic development plans and sectors’ development plans, while attracting investments and enhancing inter-regional connectivity.

Besides, the Mekong Delta region needs to step up economic restructuring, improve farm produce quality, devise mechanisms to lure investments in high technologies in aquaculture and agriculture and sea-based eco-tourism, and prevent landslides.

Other tasks include stepping up vocation training, developing high-quality human resources and raising public awareness of sustainable development and climate change adaptation.-VNA