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Environmental Change, Agricultural Sustainability, and Economic Development in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, Can Tho University, Can Tho, Vietnam March 25-27, 2010

  • Final program.

  •            This conference will focus on the environmental challenges, especially climate change, to agricultural sustainability in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, and discuss possible adaptation and policy responses to these challenges.  The conference will consist of interdisciplinary paper and poster presentations by scholars and scientists.

               The Mekong Delta of Vietnam is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world.  The Mekong River fans out over an area of about 40,000 sq kilometers and over the course of many millennia has produced a region of fertile alluvial soils and constant flows of energy.  Today about a fourth of the Delta is under rice cultivation, making this area one of the premier rice granaries in the world.  The Delta has always proven a difficult environment to manipulate, however, and because of population pressures, increasing acidification of soils, and changes in the Mekong’s flow, environmental problems have intensified.   The changing way in which the region has been linked to larger flows of commodities and capital over time has also had an impact on the region: For example, its re-emergence in recent decades as a major rice-exporting area has linked it inextricably to global markets and their vicissitudes.  And most recently, the potential for sea level increases because of global warming has added a new threat.  Because most of the region is on average only a few meters above sea level and because any increase of sea level will change the complex relationship between tides and down-river water flow, the Mekong Delta is one of the areas in the world most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  A meter increase in sea level could displace millions of people and profoundly affect the productive capacity of agricultural lands in the Delta – and would at the same time, according to a recent Oxfam report, affect Vietnam’s overall development goals.  In 2000, Vietnam produced only 0.35% of the world’s greenhouse gases, one of the lowest contributions in the world, so larger environmental justice issues are at stake as well.  How governmental policy and resident populations will adapt to climate change as well as several other emerging or ongoing environmental and economic problems in the Delta – and what policy makers can learn from history and from similar experiences on river deltas elsewhere in the world – will be the foci of this conference.

               Emphasis will be on papers that consider the social, cultural, and historical context and implications of agricultural practices and technology in the Mekong Delta. All paper presentations will be in English.   Over thirty presenters from ten countries are scheduled to give papers on climate change and Delta agriculture, strategies for sustainability and adaptation, labor migration in the Delta, the historical context of environmental and social change in the Delta, comparative studies of environmental change, and other topics.

               This two-day symposium will provide an excellent opportunity for international and local scholars and scientists to exchange information on the history of agriculture and environmental problems in the Mekong Delta; to share the latest research findings and achievements in developing strategies for sustainable agriculture and climate change adaptation in the Delta; to analyze Delta agriculture in a larger historical and cultural context; and to identify future demands and enhance research collaborations for mitigating and adapting to environmental problems and developing sustainable agriculture in the Mekong Delta.

               The conference will convene at Can Tho University (CTU) in Can Tho City.   Registration for the conference will be on-site and will be $50.00 USD; $25.00 for graduate students.  The field trip is scheduled for March 25 and the presentation and discussion sessions of the conference will take place March 26-27.  Further information about Can Tho can be found on the website http://www.cantho.gov.vn/wps/portal/en.  Participants and attendees can find accommodations in hotels with a full range of prices in Can Tho; assistance with bookings can be provided. Can Tho is approximately 4-5 hours by road from the Ho Chi Minh City international airport.

    Contact person:
    Dr. Truong Hoang Dan
    Email: thdan@ctu.edu.vn