Charting the Path to Peace: Who Bears the Burden of Climate Variability in Vietnam?

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Written by Grazia Pacillo. Image credit: G. Smith (CIAT).

CGIAR FOCUS Climate Security explores the role of climate and food systems for lasting peace. We do this through multidisciplinary research and by building strong networks with partners who want to contribute directly or indirectly to climate security and peacebuilding. Find out more and read all our latest stories. Recordings of the webinar sessions are available here. The webinar is also available in podcast format from the UN Global Dispatches Podcast Website.

In our seventh Webinar of the 2-part series on “Charting the path to peace”, we were joined by:

  • Mrs. Cecile Leroy, Programme Manager, European Delegation in Hanoi, Vietnam (EU)
  • Mr. Hai-Anh Dang, Senior Economist, Development Data Group, World Bank (WB)
  • Mr. Janto S. Hess, Climate Change Adaptation Consultant (UNDP)
  • Mr. Huy Ngo Nguyen, Senior Climate Change Advisor, Oxfam in Vietnam (OXFAM)
  • Mrs. Phuong Vu, Senior Officer at International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam (ICD/MARD)

In a recent study “Who bears the burden of climate variability? A comparative analysis of the impact of weather conditions on inequality in Vietnam and Indonesia”, Pacillo et al. (2020) find that the effect of climate variability in Vietnam is regressive as income decreases and income inequality increases with changes in climatic conditions. The analysis confirms that these impacts are larger for the poorest and most marginalized people. Ethnic minority, rural and farming households are bearing the biggest burden of these impacts and have a lower probability to escape poverty in the medium to the long term.

The objective of this event was to reflect on the impacts that the current climate crisis has on the most vulnerable in Vietnam. We asked our participants: is climate variability regressive? Or better does climate variability impacts more on those who are less able to cope with its consequences? And if so, what can we do to ensure an equal, sustainable economic development for all in Vietnam?

The panellists discussed policy options to mitigate the impact of climate variability on inequality of opportunities for the poorest and most marginalised people, ultimately contributing to peace and security in Vietnam. Three main priority actions were identified:

1. Strengthening local governance and participatory planning mechanisms to give voice to those who are left behind

Reaching the poorest and most marginalized requires a concerted effort at local level which fully embraces the principles of togetherness and inclusiveness. Participatory planning with the help of the civil society is critical especially when it comes to natural resources management. Granting equal access to shared natural resources is essential for the protection of the most vulnerable from unequal climate impacts, both at community and country level.

2. Building, instead of suppressing, the differences across culture and practices between majority and minorities ethnic minorities will be key to a more equal, sustainable development in VN

Oftentimes, organisations and national governments have adopted solutions that do not reflect the difference in culture and practices of many ethnic minorities. These groups thrive on specific cultural and farming practices that are unique and could significantly add value to the country’s socio-economic development, when accurately nourished. Hai-Anh Dang highlighted the importance to invest in cultural, social and economic diversity to grant a sustainable, climate-resilient, future to ethnic minorities in Vietnam.

3. Mainstreaming climate impacts into decision-making processes, focus on youth, both rural and urban areas, and a more equal distribution of wealth and opportunities

Many investment and planning decisions still do not take into consideration future and current climate impacts. Nguyen Ngoc Huy believes that a thorough reform of the Vietnamese economic model is needed, one that do not only focus on natural resources and economic growth but one that centers on people and their increasing needs in the current climate crisis. This will not only be limited to the rural areas, but investment are also needed to ensure equality of income and opportunities to millions who migrate to cities but do not have access to basic public services, such as health care and education.

Finally, more investment for the youth, leaders of tomorrow, will be necessary. Equipping them with stronger skills and education will ensure better employment opportunities both within and outside the country, which will in turn help alleviating climate impacts for those in their families who are left behind.

CGIAR’s role in climate security in Vietnam

CGIAR is actively involved in supporting the GoV in dealing with climate impacts on agriculture, food systems and drivers of security. Since 2013, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security in Southeast Asia (CCAFS SEA) aimed to help Vietnam, particularly the government and smallholder farmers, to cope with the impacts of climate change in agriculture. CCAFS SEA brings together the world’s best agricultural scientists and climate experts to study and address the interactions, synergies, and trade-offs among climate change, agriculture, and food security. In the decade on work in Vietnam, CCAFS has contributed to “enhancing the knowledge, skills, and favorable attitude of policy makers, practitioners and farmers towards climate change, which led to new ways of thinking and behavior, as well as promising and modern means of doing things (e.g. new practices, policies, strategies)” (Ferrer & Bernardo, 2020). In the peace and security space, CCAFS has contributed to create evidence on some of the main potential drivers on insecurities, such as migration (Bacud et al., 2019). These contributions have significantly supported the overall GoV’s  ambition of a “transformed and reoriented agricultural systems that foster sustainable development and ensure food security under a changing climate”. (Ferrer & Bernardo, 2020).

If you are in a rush, check out a quick 2-minute summary video of our webinar discussion here:


Acknowledgments: This dissemination event is part of the research project “Climate variability in Indonesia and Vietnam” from the EU-AFD Research Facility on inequalities, developed with the financial support of the European Commission and the coordination of the French Development Agency (AFD). The research project presented today is a complement to other climate research initiatives in Vietnam that AFD supports, such as the GEMMES project Vietnam, modelling the socio-economic impacts of climate change in Vietnam as well as adaptation strategies up to 2050. 


Bacud, E. S., Puskur, R., Duyen, T. N. L., Sander, B. O., & Luis, J. (2019). Rural outmigration – feminization – agricultural production nexus: Case of Vietnam. Migration and Development, 1–25.

Ferrer, A. J. G., & Bernardo, E. B. V. (2020). Outcomes of CCAFS Work in Vietnam. Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security.

Pacillo, G., Nguyen Viet, C., Hafianti, S., Abanokova, K., Dang, H.-A., Armando, H., & Estrella, A. (2020). Research papers.



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