Climate Change Adaptation Planning in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta

Case Summary: 

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta is considered among the world’s five most vulnerable deltas (Governments of Vietnam and the Netherlands 2013). Socioeconomic exposure is very high due to high population density, meaning that about 11 million people in that region are facing risks that are enhanced by issues like sea-level rise, land subsidence, and flooding. To develop a long-term strategic vision towards adaption efforts in the Mekong Delta, the Mekong Delta Plan started formally in 2011 and was finalized in 2013. To further build upon the Mekong Delta Plan which lacks institutional integration and specific action plans, the Prime Minister Resolution 120 was published in 2017. The Resolution defines a set of objectives for 2050, strategic “solutions,” and a series of concrete agency specific tasks. This case study summarizes the strategic climate adaptation planning for Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. It largely focuses on the Mekong Delta Plan in Vietnam (Governments of Vietnam and the Netherlands 2013) and the subsequent Prime Minister Resolution 120 (Government of Vietnam 2017) as well as some several sector as the cornerstone for climate adaptation planning in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.

Vietnam’s efforts on climate change adaptation planning in Mekong Delta is a good practice because it provides an excellent example of how strategic adaptation planning can unfold in a context of substantial exposure. The Mekong Delta Plan specifies four socioeconomic scenarios (or visions), each describing a specific direction of socioeconomic development. While the Prime Minister Resolution 120 sets eight objectives for 2050. In addition, both the Mekong Delta Plan and the Prime Minister Resolution 120 have proposed sector-specific tasks for different ministries.

Key findings:

  • A combination of top-down and bottom-up initiatives can lead to very effective adaptation plans.
  • Short-term strategies require immediate coordination, while long-term planning provides more potential for uncoordinated processes to co-evolve and inform each other.
  • The relevance of champions at the highest level of governance is important to bridge cross-sector differences.
  • Implementation at the provincial level benefits from having a planning agency specifically focused on funding for the Mekong Delta.
  • Investing in socioeconomic assessment capacity would substantially enhance strategic planning and implementation processes.
East Asia and Pacific
Action Area 
Planning and Implementation Activity 
Developing Strategies and Plans, Developing and Implementing Policies and Measures, Sub-national Action and Integration, National Adaptation Plans
Sectors and Themes 
Agriculture, Disaster Risk Reduction, Water
Barriers overcome 
Capacity, Financial, Institutional, Political, Socio-cultural
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Resources Institute (WRI)
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