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Climate Change Vulnerability Mapping for Greater Mekong Sub-Region

February 22, 2016

It is well recognized that the impacts of climate change pose a serious threat to socio-economic, environment, and people’s livelihoods, particularly those in developing countries where severe natural disasters like tropical cyclones, floods, droughts, landslides, and rising sea levels are common. In this context, there is no debate that adaptation strategies and mitigation responses, particularly for the region’s most vulnerable people, are needed. Limitations to enhancing adaptive capacity to climate change can restrict the provision of quantitative insights into vulnerability to the phenomenon. This is why addressing the vulnerability to and possible impacts of climate change at the sub-regional level is a major concern of this study.
The key objective of this study is to identify the areas in Mekong countries that are most vulnerable to climate change and climate-induced water problems. These findings will be useful for better targeting of and priority setting for climate change adaptation initiatives. The study was undertaken in five Mekong countries, i.e. Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Based on work by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2001), a framework for vulnerability assessment conceptualizes vulnerability to climate change by looking at exposure and sensitivity of a system to a climate hazard, and the ability of the system to cope with, adapt to or recover from the effects of hazardous conditions.
This study finds that Mekong countries are adversely affected by major natural hazards, such as tropical cyclones, floods and droughts. Additionally, the study also mapped adaptive capacity and areas that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which can be a useful tool for determining degrees of adaptation and mitigation responses at the provincial level. The mappings showed that Thailand has a high adaptive capacity to climate change among Mekong countries, whereas the western coastline of Myanmar and the Cambodian Mekong lowland region were identified as the most vulnerable areas in the sub-region. The findings of this study will be valuable for the five Mekong countries in ensuring sustainable adaptation to climate change.


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