Connecting Delta Cities

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City: Climate change adaptation

Climate change adaptation

HCMC faces major challenges in terms of infrastructure development, public transport, flood prevention and the provision of other public services due to its ongoing rapid growth. These challenges will be amplified given the projected changes in climate.

HCMC along with other provinces in Vietnam is currently developing an Action Plan on Climate Change that shall define adaptive responses to safeguard the city’s development. In this context, further research is currently undertaken examining the effects of climate change on HCMC to arrive at sustainable solutions. Existing policies and strategic documents, such as the Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2025 are currently revised and updated to integrate climate change adaptation into the planning process. In order to coordinate and integrate all activities related to climate change, HCMC has established the so-called Ho Chi Minh City Climate Change Steering Board.

Along with institutional arrangements, HCMC is undertaking and planning concrete measures to adapt to climate change. In order to reduce the vulnerability of future urban areas, which will be mainly developed on low-lying marshlands, a policy has been decreed in 2008 that requires all new developments to be elevated 2m to 2.5m (6.6 - 8.2 feet) above mean sea level.

To protect the city from rising sea water levels a Master Plan of Tide Control for HCMC has been approved by the Prime Minister in 2008 that proposes to build a polder system around HCMC. Almost 200km (124.3 miles) of dikes and hundreds of tidal gates will be constructed. As the project is not yet implemented, the effects of such a polder system are currently studied in detail and concerns regarding ecological aspects, city planning and the timing have been raised.

To get further insight in the potential flood risks and damage, the HCMC University is working on a flood damage model for the city. With this model socio economic development and climate change are being taken into account.

People who live in the flood prone areas are most vurnerable for flooding, but those people know the area best. For this reason the Brandenburgh University of Vietnam started to work on community based adaptation in HCMC. People in the communities were being informed about the threats and problems they cope with. But to work on the problems a workshop was being organized so that communities can take action their selves to work with climate change. Examples of community based adaptation is implementing early warning systems in communities, design evacuation routes and construct drainage channels.


HCMC and Rotterdam are cities which are actually very much alike, to keep their delta area economically prosperous, safe and a pleasant environment to live and work they have to work with climate change. Rotterdam has experience in developing and moving port activities, which is something that is very useful for HCMC. To develop the ‘Ho Chi Minh City, moving towards the sea with climate change adaptation’ program, within the Vietnam Climate Adaptation Partnership (VCAPS), Rotterdam and Ho Chi Minh City are working together.

Magazine "Resilient Cities and Climate Adaptation Strategies" CDC book volume 3 Available now. Download free of charge.