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All along the Mekong Delta, one of the most agriculturally productive regions in the world, a combination of rising sea levels, water salinisation, and drought has sparked a migration crisis, with an estimated 1.7 million people having left the region over the last 10 years.
As larger and larger parts of the delta are abandoned, and the previously fertile land becomes barren, the need for a new approach will only increase.
Nevertheless, one option still remains.
The Climate Change Working Group in Vietnam (CCWG) maintain many community-based solutions to these climate challenges already exist. Such models, called Community-based Climate Change Initiatives (CBCCIs), have been promoted by CCWG throughout 2017 and into 2018, making them widespread throughout Vietnam.

These initiatives have coincided with the onset of Vietnam's National Adaptation Plan (NAP), which began in early 2017. Despite this offering a great opportunity for grassroots initiatives to capture the national imagination, top-down planning dominates in Vietnam.

One prime example of this approach has been the installation of thousands of miles of dykes, implemented by the Vietnamese government as a method to protect and expand its enormous rice exports. This well-intentioned solution has however caused wildlife to die-out and soil to degrade, creating unanticipated problems for farmers and in-turn harming the communities the government intend to help. With the slow-onset effects of climate change increasing, locally-based initiatives are offering an alternative route out of ecological disaster.
The CBCCI model involves expanding awareness, improving data, and giving due consideration to indigenous knowledge through training workshops, community-based risk assessments, climate change awareness campaigns and promoting indigenous agriculture techniques. This approach produces varied outcomes in different communities,  but in essence its uniqueness is driven by its prioritisation of local knowledge and local perspectives in the planning process. Despite its effectiveness, reaching policy-makers to promote these successes has proved difficult.  

“The most important thing is to communicate the serious damage climate change inflicts upon communities and the role community adaptation can play in reducing it”, explained Mr. Vu Quoc Anh, coordinator for CCWG, “gaining media support and recognition for these adaptation models is key for building momentum behind the local adaptation approach.”
Mobilising media to serve adaptation
To improve awareness, CCWG has invited journalists to media tours that introduced the work of local communities and on-going CBCCIs. Underpinning CCWG’s approach in doing so has been The Joint Principles for Adaptation, a tool created by CCWG and other Southern Voices members to promote equitable climate adaptation.
The strategic aim of this approach is to give journalists an appreciation of CBCCIs, demonstrating how participatory and inclusive planning can ward-off the most extreme effects of climate change. 
Media Tour Picture Resized
 Journalists interviewed ethnic minority communities during a media tour in Dien Bien province
Crucial to making these tours a success is getting journalists down to the grass-roots level and allowing their own professional inquisitiveness to drive the realisation that such methods can and do work. 
Becoming co-producers
With coverage of CBCCIs growing over 2017, the other long-term goal of CCWG was self-produced content. In late 2017, this culminated in training workshops for CCWG members to expand their influence and presence in the media. Top-level instructors were recruited to conduct the training sessions, teaching members the core skills of writing, video editing, and interviewing.
Media Training Picture Resize
CCWG members were trained at community adaptation sites
“These sessions gave us the ability to identify and share techniques to grab the attention of the general public and policy-makers”, elaborated Quoc Anh, highlighting the autonomy this capacity-building approach brings.
This general idea resonates with many CSOs engaged in climate advocacy, whereby a do-it-yourself approach can be highly complementary when combined with strong media advocacy and cooperation.
“Thanks to the size of the audiences we reached, the project achievements were introduced to previously uninformed communities but also decision-makers on a wide scale”, Quoc Anh commented regarding CCWG's coverage across a variety of news media. 
Making media matter

Over the course of the last year, this increased media support has made an important contribution to CCWG’s credibility and reputation on adaptation issues. “Journalists are now contacting us regularly to get our take on climate change debates in the political sphere”, reflected Vu Quoc Anh, “decision makers are opening up to get community perspectives on key planning processes, such as Nationally Determined Contributions revision and NAP development at both national and local levels”.

CBCCIs are now considered the key civil society input supporting the development of Vietnam’s National Adaptation Plan.
CCWG has agreed to cooperate with An Giang province to organise a provincial workshop, alongside five provinces in Red River Delta by 2019, on implementation of their adaptation projects.
Expanding community-based projects is the next task on CCWG’s agenda, with a media network and promotional skills now part and parcel of CCWG’s toolkit. 
Provincial Workshop implementation plan of An Giang province Group Photo Resized
CCWG coordinators have met government ministers in An Giang regarding using CBCCI's in provincial climate plans
“We are planning many more media workshops over the next year and are seeing significant interest from our members to take these skills back to their local communities”, concluded Vu Quoc Anh.
Find out more about The Climate Change Working Group Vietnam's work at or find more articles on adaptation advocacy in the region at news from Asia & Pacific.

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Regional Facilitator, Asia & Pacific

profile vosithaVositha Wijenayake

Vositha joined Climate Action Network (CAN) South Asia in early 2013 as Advocay and Outreach Officer.

Vositha is a CAN Leadership Development Program Fellow (2012-) and former Executive Coordinator of the Sri Lankan Youth Climate Action Network (SLYCAN).

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