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This research derives from a Vietnam–Denmark collaborative research project on “Impacts of Climate Change in MidCentral Vietnam” (P1-08-Vie), funded by the Danida during 2009–12.
In comparison, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in general terms defines vulnerability as a function of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptability.
The target program had a total budget of $100 million (U.S. dollars), distributed between 50% foreign funds, 30% central budget, 10% local budget, and 10% private funding (SRV 2008).
For instance, the WB country director recently called it a model to follow and that the country should share its experiences with the rest of the world (VFN 2010).
In June 2012, Danida announced the suspension of three out of four ongoing climate change research cooperation projects with Vietnam (including the present) after an unscheduled revision had indicated a serious “unjustified use of funds” (Danida, Doc. C 1176, 25 May 2012).
Developing countries at the same time sparred over vulnerability and access to the new multibillion-dollar Green Climate Fund, as a new instrument vulnerability ranking is now attempted by several institutions; one such is the private company Maplecroft, which ranks Vietnam no. 13 among the extreme risk countries based on multiple social, economic, and environmental indicators.
In 2009, a new law (Decision 97) forbade “opposing the line, objectives and policies of the party and state” in public and effectively closed down the only independent policy think tank, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), while restricting the right to conduct policy research on the Communist Party.
A list of present climate-related projects with aid funding in Quang Nam province (provided by the Danida office in Tam Ky) shows overwhelming focus on coastal areas and water ways, while a distinction between mitigation and adaptation projects is not easily made.
Small public funding may be provided for the official categories of vulnerable people, including invalids, elderly without relatives, orphans, and laborers with limited schooling (McElwee et al. 2010), but assessment of their needs rests on local government.
The main poverty alleviation activity of local governments is loans or grants for house building in especially the poorer districts, often with government, foreign donor, or NGO support.
The total decrease of water surface for aquaculture was 600 ha from 2009 to 2010 (Quang Nam Statistics Office 2010).
Interviews with forestry authorities in Dai Loc, Bac Tra My, and Que Son districts DONRE land use map and statistics, 2005–2010.
In problem areas such as the retreat of the natural forest, Vietnamese government authorities tend to publish planning figures rather than actual data. The statistical bureau reports a constant area since 2000 despite extensive hydropower and other construction (Quang Nam Statistics Office 2010), but without breakdown into districts. The provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DONRE) issued 2005–10 land use planning figures showing successful growth of all categories of land use, including forests (total area growing 25% to a total of 6720 km2/66% of the total land area). Yet the separate category of “forests” is not immediately intelligible because the categories of agricultural land, nonagricultural land, and unused land already make up 100% of the land area. Forests is thus a category that cuts across basic land use categories without specification (e.g. interview, head of forestry department, Le Van Truong, Bac Tra My district, 2 February 2010).
A general problem with local statistics is the cumulative reporting from village to commune to district and so forth, each level besides reporting having separate program and policy implementation duties.
District level authorities claim that they have neither funding nor authority to implement mitigation or adaptation projects themselves, despite that many problems call for local solutions, such as small dikes, river embankments, or strategic reforestation on steep slopes.
Interview, People’s Committee Chairman Le Van Giang and staff, May 2010.
Criticism of unplanned hydropower construction is mounting nationwide in Vietnam, accusing it of devastating the living environment and causing “artificial calamities” (e.g., VNN 2011), even official media now call for stricter assessment (VNNews 2011).
Vietnam has during several years been ranked around no. 120 of 178 countries by Transparency International and it presently ranked no. 165 of 178 by Reporters Without Borders, which includes Vietnam in the list of the 10 worst Internet enemies.
They are mostly just a fraction; as an example from the survey, a household was offered a compensation of $10/m2 for beach land with an estimated market price of $100–200/m2.
Repeated field studies over several years have revealed ever increasing land holdings of a few, as reported by local people. A recent record is two entrepreneurs in Nui Thanh district, each allegedly having accumulated over 60 ha of forest, making use of bribery to local government and ethnic minority straw men to get access to restricted areas.
A range of relevant foreign aid projects are now in the making, including Strategic Environmental Assessments for economic development, land use planning, hydropower construction, etc. in Quang Nam.