The future of food security and climate change in Viet Nam
Scenarios, outlooks and challenges in the next 30 years
Land of the Golden Mekong
In this scenario, unification of Southeast Asia in terms of political, economic and environmental concerns slowly becomes a reality. Though challenges around urbanisation and migration initially increase, ultimately institutions become effective enough to enable improved development and environmental management. Aging populations and the lack of labour due to egalitarianism become a problem – migrants from poorer countries replace the regional population in the working class but are shunned and abused. Strength and inclusiveness of governance (at least for the autochthonic population) is the key source of the significant change in food security, livelihoods and environments that can be observed. Climate resilience is strong in that respect, though biophysical vulnerabilities remain significant, especially in the form of extreme events that still sometimes overwhelm the region’s adaptive capacity. The migrants become the most vulnerable groups.
Buffalo Buffalo; water flows uphill
In this scenario we start out in 2013 looking up. ASEAN agreements appear to be going ahead. Myanmar is starting to produce more and be more economically active. Moving to 2020 we start to see more problems: there are major corruption scandals that greatly weaken national governments. High oil and food prices due to global as well as local situation and increased demand for biofuels increases pressure for private sector to acquire land – increasing pressure on population that is dependent on farming for their living. Logging concessions to private industry lead to massive deforestation. Environmental change creates incredible regional tensions. ASEAN closes borders and cooperation between countries is lost. Food production is significantly decreased – migration and conflicts increase. 2050 sees a situation of unsustainable agricultural intensification. There is a big plantation sector, greater emphasis on processed foods, but only the rich people in the country can afford it. There is huge environmental degradation. Social conflict is rampant. Local governance and civil society at times make some progress in solving problems, but they cannot overcome the overall declining situation.
The Doreki Dragon
In this scenario, the ASEAN-facilitated development of a regional market and the increasingly effective political focus on big business in all sectors, including agriculture, drives significant change. GMOs become the norm and are no longer exceptional – it’s all just “food”. Agricultural industrialisation develops to the degree that agriculture, while a massive source of growth, is almost no longer recognizable as such. Smallholder famers struggle more than ever, and very often fail, to maintain a livelihood – many become workers on highly industrial farms. Urbanisation is high. Environmental degradation and natural land conversion are extreme. Food security for the poor is very low, though food safety is stringent. The different societal classes are more divided than ever in terms of climate resilience with climate impacts being made significantly worse due to large-scale manipulation of the natural environment.
Tigers on a Train
This scenario sees Southeast Asia becoming increasingly collaborative regionally but also protectionist with regard to outside economic influences from China and other global actors. Riding on a time of high food prices in the first decades of the scenario, the region manages to use investments in agriculture that are not by themselves extremely high very effectively. The highly controlled region develops its focus from primary production more to agricultural processing, and eventually away from agriculture and toward industrialisation. Protectionist economic policies cause tensions with China and the need for continued negotiations. By 2050, some deep issues with the protectionist policies threaten to cripple the regional economy. In terms of climate resilience, this increased economic fragility threatens food security for the poorest who have felt the consequences of the shift away from agricultural development in recent decades.
What do you think are the main drivers of and obstacles to development for Viet Nam in the next 30 years? (see the the list of drivers and obstacles in each country below)
Keeping in mind that each scenario represents an extreme future, how plausible do you think the scenarios for Viet Nam are? What would you like to add/change in each scenario to make it more plausible from your perspective?
What solutions would support the drivers of the best scenario and help overcome obstacles encountered on the way? How about overcoming the challenges of the worst scenarios?
What are the key first steps needed to get a change process in motion, and who needs to be involved?