Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time, and is set to radically transform the world in which we live.
The Mekong region’s heavily populated coastal areas are especially at risk from saltwater intrusion, inundation from rising seas, and more extensive floods arising from greater peak flows of the Mekong, Red, Chao Phraya and other rivers.
Among lower Mekong Basin countries, Laos and Cambodia are identified as the most vulnerable in part because of their limited capacity to cope with climate related risks (Yusuf and Francisco 2009). In all countries, climate change complicates existing problems.
Across the region, temperatures are rising and have risen by 0.5 to 1.5ºC in the past 50 years. While rainy seasons may contract over parts of the region,
overall rainfall is expected to rise. This means more intense rain events when they occur.
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Mitigation and Adaptation
Mitigation refers to efforts to reduce GHG emissions and to the enhancement of sinks (i.e., carbon sequestration). Afforestation, reforestation, and capturing and storing carbon from energy production and industrial processes are examples of carbon sequestration strategies. Energy conservation and switching to C-neutral renewable fuels are examples of reducing GHG emissions. Protecting, maintaining, and sustainably managing standing forests sequester carbon and reduce GHG emissions.
Although the Greater Mekong region is rapidly developing, there is still a window of opportunity to promote these mitigation options. However these should not be treated separately from adaptation strategies. In fact, forest
protection and management is both a mitigation strategy and an ecosystembased adaptation that can maintain the region’s resilience to climate change.
Climate change is a symptom of unsustainable development as much as a driver of change. If reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) becomes an accepted strategy by the UN Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC), there should be excellent opportunities for the region to benefit from the synergy of adaptation with mitigation.
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