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Water Urbanism to respond to Climate Change

Research project BL/V/25 (Research action BL)

Contract BL/01/V25 :

Duration of the contract :


Partners :

  • Vietnamese Institute of Architecture & Planning 
  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven 

Description :

Vietnam is particularly vulnerable to the severe impacts of climate change. According to a World Bank report investigating sea level rise in 84 coastal developing countries, Vietnam ranks first in terms of impact on population, GDP, urban extent and wetland areas. The impact of sea level rise from global warming could be catastrophic for Vietnam; up to 16% of area, 35% of population and 35% of GDP would be directly affected by a 5 meter rise while a projected 1 meter sea level rise already would subject 17 million people to flooding and cause damages of up to US$17 billion, with substantial impacts penetrating inland and beyond the coastal zone (IPCC Technical Paper VI, p. 86).

The predicted rural to urban transformations of Vietnam will significantly alter the predominately agricultural nature of the landscape. The development of infrastructure networks, shift in use of the ground plane, and the strengthening of nodes within the network will result in vast expanses of asphalt, which will further alter the dynamic land-water relationship. The country’s extensive water network is severely compromised by the scale, scope and speed of urbanization. The existing sectoral approach to master-planning – where the design, engineering and management ‘solutions’ are developed in isolation – is not sufficient. As the risk and severity of flooding increases due to climate change, such a severed approach will become even more hazardous.

The two proposed cases feed directly into current VIAP projects – the development of revised masterplans for the capital city (Hanoi) and for the western capital of the Mekong Delta (Cantho). In both cases, the primary issue of focus is the evolving relationship between water and the city. The development of complementary mitigation and adaptation measures is a fundamental component of both case studies.

Therefore, the project objectives could be summarized as follows:

(1) to address the multi-dimensional, the multi-disciplinary and the territorial/spatial nature of the water issue, in this case flooding caused by inappropriate urban growth and climate change;
(2) to facilitate interpretative synthesis in terms of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a territory that faces the danger of flooding;
(3) to bridge the gap between sectors, between disciplines, between knowledge and policy by facilitating the formulation of territory-based strategic programs and projects that are capable to act as integrating devices;
(4) to work with other departments and ministries to specify the nature and scale of impacts of climate change on the cities of Hanoi and Cantho.

These projective will be specifically addressed by:

(1) elaborating elements for a method of interpretative mapping, synthesis and diagnosis;
(2) developing a cartographic methodology of scenario testing;
(3) creating a cartographic toolbox to interact with stakeholders.

Documentation :

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