With Help from Rotterdam, Ho Chi Minh City launches Climate Adaptation Strategy

C40 city Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) recently announced a Climate Adaptation Strategy aimed at enhancing the long-term sustainable socio-economic development of the city. It is the result of a strategic partnership agreement between the Vietnamese and Dutch governments and the C40 city of Rotterdam. 

HCMC sits on the banks of the Saigon River and is home to a growing population that is today near 7 million people. As a delta city, it already faces significant climate change-related challenges, including sea level rise and increased river floods. However, a rapidly growing economy and population has triggered city expansion toward the flood prone areas along the coast. In fact, a third of the city is already exposed to flooding, according to the Rotterdam Climate Initiative, and should the city carry out its 2025 master development plan two-thirds of the city will regularly flood.

Through the C40 Connecting Delta Cities (CDC) network, Rotterdam — given its vast experience and success — has helped HCMC’s planning efforts as the city develops its port and expands towards the sea.

The Climate Adaptation Strategy consists of six Strategic Directions that provide a guide to help “climate proof” the future for HCMC: 


  1. Base development direction on soil and water conditions
  2. Use a stepwise approach for flood protection
  3. Increase the water storage and drainage capacity
  4. Prevent salinization where possible, adapt where necessary
  5. Create alternatives for groundwater use
  6. Strengthen the blue-green network and ‘urban ventilation’


By implementing these six directions, and improving the quality of life for the people of HCMC, the city will decrease their vulnerability and increase resilience against the impacts of climate change and severe weather incidents.

In an article published in Vietnam News, Associate Professor and Director General of the Ho Chi Minh City Institute for Development Studies Nguyen Trong Hoa said: “If the city authorities are able to integrate all these six suggestions, no doubt HCM City will become a unique delta city with rapid and sustainable economic development … Suggestions given by the Dutch experts are of great value. We should study and analyse them thoroughly and then integrate them into the city's planning scheme.”

“Delta cities are to some extent similar throughout the world. More and more people are living in these areas, there is a need for more space and the cities are prone to the sea level rise because of their location. The strategy for Ho Chi Minh City could, therefore, serve as a blueprint for an integrated approach to the climate issues in delta cities around the world,”
according to Alexandra Carla van Huffelen, Vice Mayor of Rotterdam City.

Because of the unique partnership — which was recently formally extended to 2015 — the two cities also plan to collaborate on HCMC’s drinking water supply issues.

The Rotterdam–HCMC collaboration was also recently featured in Cities Today magazine. To read that article, click here.

Ho Chi Minh City

Leaders of HCMC and Rotterdam sign the MOU for cooperation through 2015.