Climate hazards management and local communities: whose reality counts? A spatial justice perspective on the planning of Lao Cai, Vietnam

Authors: Gwenn Pulliat*, Univ of Toronto / CNRS
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Human-Environment Geography, Asia
Keywords: Vulnerability, Resilience, Climate Change, Environmental Policy, Risks Management, Spatial Justice, Global South, Asia
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Grand Chenier, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The paper deals with the social outcome underpinning the environmental and climate policy. The case study of Lao Cai, Vietnam, provides a good example of distortion between planners’ and vulnerable communities’ perception of risks and vulnerability. The province of Lao Cai is highly exposed to various hazards (landslides, floods, thunderstorms...) and these hazards are expected to gain in severity and frequency as a result of climate change. The risks management policy is mostly twofold: building new infrastructures (such as dykes) and resettling people living in hazard-prone areas. As a consequence, most of the resettled residents have to shift their jobs from agriculture toward new livelihoods, and finding new livelihoods is currently a major concern for local communities. Therefore, while planning and risks management policies aim at reducing their vulnerability to environmental hazards, people may feel more insecure in their daily life. This paper addresses the following research questions: - Are local communities actually more resilient when climate adaptation policies are implemented – or do they experience new vulnerabilities? What cost do they bear for such environmental policies? - Is the resettlement process only driven by a protection and environmental motivation, or is it a pretext to reframe the urban planning and grab farmlands for the benefit of the city? This research is based on 68 semi-structured interviews undertaken in July 2017, including 23 with officials and 45 with residents from two wards of Lao Cai. It is part of the Urban Climate Resilience in South East Asia partnership research program.

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