Vietnam’s Economic Growth a Thirsty Business, Experts say

Diep Nguyen

14:52 05/06/2019

BizLIVE -

If the country continues along its present path— business as usual—water stress is expected to emerge in regions where the bulk of the country’s GDP is generated.

Vietnam’s Economic Growth a Thirsty Business, Experts say

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Economic growth is a thirsty business. With growing cities, rapid industrialization, and an expanding agriculture sector, the demand for water will continue to climb. Water resources are abundant but not limitless, and water availability varies across regions, years, and seasons, with variability exacerbated by climate change. 
By use, 81 percent of surface water goes to agriculture, with a further 11 percent to aquaculture, 5 percent to industry, and only 3 percent to municipal uses. In addition, energy demand is rising and is expected to increase by 2.5 times between 2015 and 2035. Coal-fired power plants are expected to meet a growing share of energy demand. 
The high water use of these plants will increase risks both to the resource and to the security of energy supply if water shortages arise. Inland waterway transport conveys approximately 48% of the total national tonnage being transported, and with increased competition for resources may also be impacted.
If the country continues along its present path— business as usual—water stress is expected to emerge in regions where the bulk of the country’s GDP is generated. Economic growth, changing patterns of consumption, and demographic pressure will continue to drive up demand for water. 
As Vietnam continues growing and industrializing, it will inevitably continue urbanizing. Nearly two-thirds of the country’s residents live in the three primary river basins: the Red–Thai Binh, the Mekong Delta, and the Dong Nai. Within 25 years, the population in urban areas is expected to require twice the daily water supply that current systems can provide.
Rapid increases in demand are projected to bring water stress to 11 out of 16 basins in Vietnam by 2030. A 2017 report by the 2030 Water Resources Group highlights the challenges that Vietnam will face (2030 WRG 2017). Under a business-as-usual scenario, the report projects a 32 percent increase in water demand by 2030 during the dry season. 
If nothing changes, this will lead to all but five river basins facing water stress by 2030—with the most severe stress in the key economic basins. As measured by a common metric of water stress, the Water Exploitation Index (the ratio of water withdrawals to water availability), water abstractions in the Red–Thai Binh, South East River Cluster (SERC), Mekong and Dong Nai basins are already fast approaching unsustainable levels. These basins account for 80 percent of Vietnam’s GDP.

DIEP NGUYEN

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