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Mainstreaming Adaptation into Local Development Plans in Vietnam

This report focuses on two adaptation projects in Vietnam: a climate change vulnerability assessment in the Cat Khanh Commune, Binh Dinh province, and efforts to ‘mainstream’ adaptation in the Binh Dinh province’s fishery sector
Elirehema Swai Swai


Climate change adaptation is a relatively new concept for Vietnam, where there is still little awareness of the possible impacts of long-term climate change or how to deal with them, and there are few resources available to do so. This report focuses on two adaptation projects in Vietnam: a climate change vulnerability assessment in the Cat Khanh Commune, Binh Dinh province, and efforts to ‘mainstream’ adaptation in the Binh Dinh province’s fishery sector. Both studies were participatory in nature, and it was found that the mainstreaming activities benefited significantly from the activities that were previously undertaken as part of the study, particularly the climate change training and the vulnerability assessment. Overall, mainstreaming adaptation in Binh Dinh province faces several difficulties: limited availability of accurate data; limited knowledge of adaptation amongst stakeholders (at both the provincial and commune levels); lack of local officers to conduct mainstreaming exercises; and lack of official guidelines for mainstreaming climate change adaptation. Still, provincial leaders lent their support to the mainstreaming of adaptation in the Binh Dinh province, including the Binh Dinh’s Climate Change Coordination Office preparation of a legal document to mainstream adaptation into local development plans. Once approved, this document will be Vietnam’s first attempt at integrating adaptation into development planning at the provincial level.

Successful mainstreaming of adaptation requires a participatory approach, with a wide range of stakeholders working together with experts, exchanging ideas and building mutual trust. Bringing stakeholders together with adaptation experts also proved to be an effective way to build adaptation capacity. Greater coordination between sectors is also necessary. Unfortunately, within Vietnam there is limited cross-sectoral and/or cross-agency cooperation, if any. Bringing the different groups together, particularly when the sectors/agencies do not fully understand or prioritize climate change, is a major challenge. In this context, the Climate Change Coordination Office becomes a crucial focal point for the diverse representatives from different levels, agencies and sectors.

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Pilot Project- Binh Dinh Province

As part of the AKP, a pilot project was launched in Vietnam to:

  • Build awareness and capacity for local stakeholders in the Binh Dinh province on climate change adaptation;
  • Implement a vulnerability assessment in a selected commune within the province; and,
  • Provide technical support for piloting mainstreaming adaptation into local development plans.

As a first step, a scoping study was undertaken to identify the best ways to build adaptation capacity and to mainstream adaptation into local development plans. In addition, the study sought to determine the main barriers to building capacity and mainstreaming climate change adaptation, and how to address them.

In collaboration with the AKP, the National Institute for Science and Technology, Policy and Strategy Studies (NISTPASS) then conducted several activities, including:

  • Two training workshops for local planners, policymakers and local communities;
  • A climate vulnerability assessment in Cat Khanh Commune, Phu Cat district, Binh Dinh province;
  • Assistance in mainstreaming adaptation into development through a Pilot Master Plan within the province; and,
  • A National Round Table discussion on adaptation in Vietnam.

The scope of this study was limited by resource and time constraints. However, the project was successful in enhancing local capacity, and it successfully tested the mainstreaming of adaptation within Binh Dinh’s fisheries sector. These activities also provided valuable lessons that could be more widely applied across Vietnam, and they highlighted the significant roles that the social, organizational and institutional aspects play in climate change adaptation – they are, in fact, as important as the technical aspects of the adaptation planning process

Major Findings and Lessons Learnt

As noted, there is a great need for capacity-building on climate issues in Binh Dinh. Through a process of engaging local people in this project, the pilot discovered that involving stakeholders directly in project activities, with adaptation experts, was the best and quickest way to build their capacity. People learned more quickly by doing things for themselves, rather than from receiving theoretical training or observing work conducted by others. This approach also increased stakeholders’ personal investment and continued involvement in climate change adaptation. Also, working closely with local stakeholders and communities helped the pilot to better understand the local context, and consequently improved the analytical skills of the pilot’s staff. As Lebel et al. (2010) have noted, often experts on climate change possess a good understanding of climate-related risks, but not of other risks or sources of vulnerability.


Bach Tan Sinh and Vu Canh Toan. 2012, Mainstreaming adaptation into local development plans in Vietnam, Adaptation Knowledge Platform, Partner Report Series No. 3., Stockholm Environment Institute, Bangkok.

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