UN: Now is the time to mitigate the effects of climate change in Viet Nam

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ImageWorld Environment Day 2007 focuses on global impact of melting ice

Ha Noi – Viet Nam is likely to be one of the most affected countries in the world if sea levels continue to rise at current rates. Estimates show that if global sea levels rose by one metre, the country would face losses totalling US$17 billion per year; one fifth of the population would lose their homes; 12.2 percent of Viet Nam’s most fertile land would likely be lost; and 40,000 sq.km of the plain and 17 sq.km of coastal areas in the most affected Mekong Delta provinces would be subject to unprecedented levels of flooding.

“Melting Ice: a Hot Topic?” was the theme of this year’s World Environment Day, and Viet Nam’s Vice President Mme Truong My Hoa spoke in the central city of Da Nang at an event organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Youth Union and the Da Nang People’s Committee.

 “The most dramatic evidence of climate change is found in the Polar Regions. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his World Environment Day message. “However, this is not just a polar issue… As sea levels rise, inhabitants of low-lying islands and coastal cities throughout the world face inundation.”

UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) new Country Director, Ms. Setsuko Yamazaki, who attended the National Celebration in Da Nang, reiterated the Secretary-General’s point saying that now is the time to deal with the causes of climate change and also to take rising sea levels into account in Viet Nam’s economic and development plans.

For example, with targeted national annual economic growth rates of 8%, demand for electricity in 2010 is projected to be three times more than it was in 2002. “This will have substantial implications for the level of greenhouse gas emissions,” Ms Yamazaki said. “Viet Nam needs to use oil and coal more efficiently, shift to renewable energy and develop new technology to limit these harmful emissions.”

Da Nang was selected as the location for the World Environment Day observances to draw particular attention to the central coastal region where people are already encountering the impact of climate change, particularly through the increased frequency of typhoons and floods affecting the region’s most poor and vulnerable. On the impacts of climate change Ms Yamazaki said, “We must involve the people who experience the impacts of climate change directly; local farmers and residents who have knowledge of salt-resistant crops and tree varieties, of soil protection, of sustainable use of water resources and of preparedness for coping with natural disasters.”

The theme selected for this year – “Melting Ice – a Hot Topic?” focuses on the effects that climate change is having on polar ecosystems and communities, and the ensuing consequences around the world. World Environment Day has been celebrated annually since 1972. Over the years, the Day has focused on such issues as acid rain, oceans, water, and green cities. The Day's agenda is to give a human face to environmental issues; empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues; and advocate partnership, which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.

>> For more information, please visit: http://www.unep.org/wed/2007/english/