Southeast Asia is highly vulnerable to climate change both in terms of disasters and population intensity. The region contains important biodiversity – the world’s second largest area of rainforest after the Amazon Basin – and major rice bowls in the Mekong River and Red River deltas which are already at risk of more extreme weather events and sea level rises.
Le Huy Ham, director general of the Vietnam Institute of Agricultural Genetics, welcomed this effort and said it addresses an urgent food security issue. In Vietnam, under the scenario of a 3-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures, roughly 10 percent of the country’s agricultural coastland will be lost, impacting the lives of more than 20 million people, he said.
“The challenge in this region is to reduce greenhouse gases, especially methane from rice production systems, while boosting food production to feed a growing population on less land, with increased vulnerability to flooding, water salinity and (other) stresses,” he said.
Addressing the potential impacts of climate change using long-term scenarios is intended to raise awareness among key stakeholders and policy makers and stimulate policy dialogue and investment in both the private and public sectors.
The scenarios may not be predictions, but they will guide adaptation policy in the region and generate a regional understanding of climate vulnerability and risks. They will also suggest specific entry points for wider climate research and concrete scientific support, where otherwise only uncertainty exists.