Adaptation to sea level rise in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

17 January 2018

In a recently published paper, environmental scientist Paolo Scussolini (IVM-VU) and colleagues present a multidisciplinary analysis of adaptation to sea level rise in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The authors focus on the impact of higher sea level on floods. Using different scenarios of climate and socio-economic change, they show that investing in adaptation will likely generate high returns on investment.

As sea levels continue to rise, concerns about coastal floods increase, especially in low-lying cities in the tropics. In Ho Chi Minh City, large floods already occur quite often. The authors have therefore explored how coastal floods can be expected to impact this city during the coming decades.

Calculating risks for different scenarios

Using different scenarios, Scussolini and colleagues calculated that, in terms of urban damage and potential casualties, flood risks in Ho Chi Minh City may increase more than 10-fold – that is, if adaptation measures are not taken. The authors then modeled the effects of different adaptation measures: a ring dike, elevating part of the city, retrofitting buildings, changing land use, and their combinations.

The cost-benefit analysis shows that most measures have the potential of reducing a considerable part of future flood risk. However, the measure that seems most likely to be implemented, a ring dike that would protect the inner city, has the downside of increasing risk in outer districts. If implemented, this measure should be combined with others to address inequality in risk reduction.

High return on investment

The analysis makes clear that most adaptive measures support a positive economic outcome, thus suggesting that taking measures is well worth the investment. The authors conclude by drafting possible adaptation pathways, to support the selection of efficient types and timing of adaptation measures in Ho Chi Minh City.

Publication details

Scussolini, P., Tran, . T. V. T., Koks, E. E., Diaz Loaiza, M. A., Ho, L. P. & Lasage, R. (2017). Adaptation to Sea Level Rise: A Multidisciplinary Analysis for Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In : Water Resources Research.

The paper is open access.

Paolo Scussolini

Dr Paolo Scussolini is postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the Water and Climate Risk department of the IVM. Presently, he aims to combine the efforts of the paleo climate and the climate impacts communities. He is also interested in how climate change and growth alter flood risk at the city-scale, and in the effects of measures of climate adaptation.

Paolo coordinates the BSc Honours’ course in Climate Change, and the MSc course in Water Management and is part of Amsterdam Water Science.

Published by  IBED Water