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Childhood vulnerability to climate change in marginalised Vietnamese communities: the case for participation

Working papers

Written by David Walker

Children are active agents in their families and communities but often lack basic knowledge of the factors that affect their wellbeing, as well as the means and understanding to affect these. One way of redress­ing this is to enable them to participate in various stages of the policy cycle in ways that enable them to address their wellbeing concerns.

Recent studies by Plan Viet Nam, in association with ODI's Social Development programme, have analysed the potential impact of climate change on the lives of minority and mountainous communi­ties, particularly children and vulnerable groups in Quang Tri province. Through an examination of social indices, the changing risks and child-specific dimensions of vulnerability are outlined in relation to the communities in question, but a broader range of potential national policy responses are introduced that have saliency to other countries in the region as well.

Key points:

  • Government ministries need to assess the degree to which facilities and incentives (such as shared performance indicators and cross-cutting budget lines) exist for cross-sectoral collaboration.

  • Education systems – formal and non-formal – should focus on social impact, not just science, as well as on the value of indigenous adaptation practices and the transfer of indigenous knowledge to new generations.

  • Think-tanks and research institutes, such as the Vietnamese Academy for Social Sciences, have a track record of providing unique entry points for national policy promotion in an otherwise relatively closed ‘one-party’ system. Such actors should be included in both local and national research initiatives, and relevant discussions, in order to ‘translate’ findings between participatory research and policy.

  • Relevant voices and influences have been growing in recent years (through the work of the Climate Change Working Group, the Disaster Management Working Group and the Joint Advocacy Network Initiative); this momentum can be garnered for national disaster risk reduction planning summits.

  • Sources of public information, such as the media, schools and local governments, need to promote public awareness, public participation, and public access to information on climate change.

  • The importance of existing local administrative structures – such as civil society organisations, schools, and other established social, political and economic groupings – cannot be underestimated in linking formal with informal structures.

David Walker