Climate Justice in Ecosystem-based Adaptation: The case of Soc Trang coastal zone, Vietnam

Development and the unsustainable use of natural resources in the coastal zone of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam are threatening the protection function of the
mangrove forests. These threats will be exacerbated by the impacts of climate change. Mangrove forest protect muddy coasts from erosion, flooding and storms thus reducing the vulnerability of people living in the coastal zone and provide co-benefits and livelihood. However, top-down approaches of mangrove protection were not successful due to governance issues between the stakeholder groups.

The project ‘Management of Natural Resources in the Coastal Zone of Soc Trang Province, Viet Nam’ (2007–2013) opted for a participatory, inclusive management approach for mangrove conservation and rehabilitation as a form of ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA). Under this co-management approach, the local population actively participated in managing the mangroves and in using forest products sustainably. The process started with stakeholder consultations and the organisation of a partnership between the community and local authorities. Subsequently, co-management plans and agreements were negotiated and agreed upon. Joint monitoring and evaluation of the process and results guided the implementation of co management. This participatory approach proved to be a precondition for the project’s effectiveness.

The case of Vietnam / Soc Trang illustrates the importance of climate justice as a precondition for successfully and sustainably protecting mangrove forests. As mentioned, mangrove forests protect the coast and people from storms and flooding. Additionally, the ecosystem provides other co-benefits, like the increase of income through fisheries by providing nursery grounds, food, shelter and habitat for a wide range of aquatic species. The case highlights how a justice-based implementation approach strengthened the equal participation and benefits of a co-management approach, which actively promoted different dimensions of climate justice.