Dr. Ho Long Phi (enCity): “Water use efficiency will be the key factor of Mekong Delta Future”

On March 19th 2021, Dr. Ho Long Phi (Managing Director, enCity) was a panelist at Mekong-US Partnership Policy Dialogues, held virtually via Zoom. The Dialogues, organized by The Stimson Center (among Top 10 think tanks of the US), are a series of six in-depth workshops that will take place from 2021 – 2023 to explore solutions to key policy and sustainability challenges facing the Lower Mekong, with participants from the Mekong countries, the United States, and other development partner countries.

Speaking at the panel with the topic “Connectivity challenges in the Mekong Delta”, Dr. Phi raised the issue of Mekong Delta future. Basically, the many forms of connectivity – physical, human, economic, institutional – are key considerations when envisioning a comprehensive approach to promoting connectivity in the Mekong. Speakers on the panel specifically explored intersections between physical connectivity and natural connectivity in the region and highlight opportunities for optimization across various forms of connectivity.

According to Dr. Phi, the combination of sinking and sea level rise may create quite different landscape, habitat and livelihood and may make Mekong Delta change drastically. In the coming decades, hundreds billion cubic meter could be taken away from the basin; meanwhile there have been about 100.000 migrants from the Mekong Delta every year, in which almost 60% found their new home in Ho Chi Minh City. To cope with water challenges, the planning strategies to better adapt to new possible futures of the Mekong delta may rely on sound, sustainable and high water-efficient economic development.

In addition, Dr. Phi also emphasized the role of urban planning. “Strong ones survive”, Dr. Phi concluded. The fate of Mekong Delta will be shaped by technical-political-social-economical nexus; in which, the role of regional and urban development re-planning is the most critical and urgent. Scientific, public spending and institutional agenda should be made to create perception of safety and opportunity for business and livelihood. A sound socio-economic ecosystem adapted with new environment and habitat will save the Mekong Delta from abandoned.

As a specialized and innovative planning agency, enCity searches for advanced regenerative and sustainable solutions to prevent water-related disasters while ensuring a secure and clean water supply for communities. A relevant case study is the planning task for Ho Chi Minh Highly Interactive and Innovative District (HIID). Since Thu Duc occupies a highly complex area including alluvial land along with Sai Gon and Dong Nai river to sloped heights next to Binh Duong, Dr. Phi proposed a flood risk and management strategy, including finding the hotspots and developing a flood prevention system.