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Asian Approaches to Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Resilience: Experience, Lessons and Opportunities for Cooperation

Dialogue Series co-organized by The Asia Foundation, the Korea Development Institute, and ISPONRE

San Francisco and Hoi An, Vietnam, August 9, 2013 — On August 1 and 2, government officials and development specialists representing more than 10 countries convened in Hoi An for the ninth meeting of the Asian Approaches to Development Cooperation (AADC) dialogue series. The conference was jointly organized by The Asia Foundation and the Korea Development Institute (KDI), in partnership with Vietnam’s Institute of Strategy and Policy on Natural Resources (ISPONRE). The goal of this ongoing series is to promote development effectiveness by facilitating mutual learning among both emerging and traditional donors on critical development issues facing the region. The 2013 AADC series focuses on climate change, an issue that significantly affects the Asia region, its growing economy, and vulnerable poor.

Following discussions on national actions for climate change mitigation and strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Seoul in April 2013, the discussions in Hoi An focused on how Asian countries are adapting to climate change and building resilience to natural disasters. Participants highlighted challenges and opportunities for coordinating efforts by examining national policies and action, private sector engagement in climate change adaptation and disaster resilience, and regional modes of cooperation and assistance. Sector-based approaches addressed water management, infrastructure, livelihoods, and disaster risk management. The forum included a visit to Hoi An Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site that generates a significant amount of revenue from the 1.5 million tourists that visit the city each year, but is threatened by the impacts of sea-level rise and stronger and more frequent floods and cyclones.

To help launch the discussions, Dr. Wonhyuk Lim, Director and Vice President, Department of Competition Policy at KDI, provided an overview of the challenges facing international cooperation on climate change, and opportunities for a post-2015 development agenda and climate change response. A few approaches he identified included calling for a reduction in fossil fuel subsidies and the implementation of a carbon tax that included border tax adjustments.

In his keynote address “Ecological Approaches to Adapting to Climate Change,” Dr. Nguyen Van Tai, Director General of ISPONRE, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment noted: “We need to employ an ecological approach to climate change adaptation. Well-managed ecosystems play a vital role in reducing disaster because they play the role of natural protective barriers or buffers thus mitigating hazard impacts.”

He emphasized that “In the Asian region, many countries have made significant efforts to build adaptive capacity [to climate change]. There remains a need for enhancing policy and planning coordination…climate change issues can be better addressed through regional cooperation, because most countries in the region experience similar climate hazards.”

The dialogue brought together participants from a broad range of countries in the Asia region and beyond, including: Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Pacific Island Nations, South Korea, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam. Representatives from multilateral and bilateral agencies, academia, the private sector, and international organizations also participated in discussions, including: Australian Aid; Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); Kyunghee University, Korea; Department of Development Assistance, Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation (CAITEC), Ministry of Commerce; Institute for International Socio-Economic Studies, NEC Corporation, Japan; CSR Asia; Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC); and from Vietnam: the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI); Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment; and the National Institute for Science and Technology, Policy and Strategic Studies (NISTPASS).

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