In his PhD research, Dr Cuong Nguyen has used the Vietnamese coastal city of Quy Nhon as a case study to apply a new approach to social vulnerability assessment.
The main reason for Dr Cuong’s research, he explains, is that local governments in Vietnam face difficulty in making effective policy that considers the effect of climate change on communities.
“The Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) proposed in my research is an effective way to assess social vulnerability and propose adaptive strategies at the local level,” said Dr Cuong.
An SVI is a tool for identifying and monitoring vulnerability to climate change over time and space, he explained.
The choice of the increasingly popular coastal town of Quy Nhon as the location for his study was simple for Dr Cuong.
“Some areas in Vietnam like the Mekong or Red Deltas have many ongoing projects on climate change,” he said, “but other areas that also have a high vulnerability do not have projects.”
Highlighting the significance of the area, in 2015, the World Bank completed The Coastal Cities Environmental Sanitation Project, improving drainage, wastewater collection and solid waste management by spending more than 4,200 billion VND ($190 million) on a new chemically enhanced treatment plant in Quy Nhon City. Prior to this, due to a lack of maintenance of the existing system, flooding was common.
As a result of his work there, Dr Cuong Nguyen calculated scores for five communes of the city, and the city as a whole. The results will form the basis for proposing a policy framework in response to climate change there. For Quy Nhon, this means prioritised strategies around reducing the impact of erosion, storms, floods and droughts.
“My research also makes suggestions for adaptive strategies at a larger scale, provincial and national, for example: enhancing community awareness, preparing for and responding to expected future climate changes, and harnessing the beneficial aspects of climate change events.”
Dr Cuong Nguyen holds a PhD from the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT Melbourne.
Story: Jon Aspin