On any list of places menaced by climate change, Vietnam’s broad and fertile Mekong Delta ranks near the top. And yet, as I wrote for Mongabay four years ago, rising seas and changing weather patterns are not the only threats to the delta’s fabled fecundity. A spasm of dam building upstream in Laos, China and Vietnam’s own Central Highlands has suppressed the annual floods that until recently brought great quantities of nutritious sediments to the delta and flushed out brackish water. And then there’s institutional inertia: Vietnam has been slow to abandon a four-decade policy focus on maximizing rice production. The Mekong River, a mega-biodiverse river that supports the lives and livelihoods of over 60 million people, is the site of over 100 planned dams. The river is already suffering major negative environmental and social impacts due to dams. Photo credit: VisualHunt.com Perhaps change has been slow because Vietnam’s “rice first” policy worked so well at the end of the last century when, desperate for export earnings, the nation invested heavily in dams and dikes to tame the annual floods so that farmers could grow two and in some places three crops of rice annually. Those investments ensured the nation’s food security. By the late 1990s, Vietnam was challenging Thailand as the world’s No. 1 rice exporter. Invested in manufacturing, earnings from rice exports speeded Vietnam’s transformation into a very competitive producer of goods for world markets. It shouldn’t be a surprise, perhaps, that planners, politicians and particularly the Ministry…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer