Phnom Penh + Climate Change

“The Greater Mekong is one of the most vulnerable places on Earth to the impacts of climate change.”

“Overall Climate Vulnerability Ranking: 

Of the 11 cities examined, Dhaka in Bangladesh is most vulnerable to climate change impacts. This large, relatively
poor city sits just meters above current sea levels, is regularly impacted by tropical cyclones and flooding, and has very limited adaptive capacity. Jakarta in Indonesia and Manila in the Philippines are also highly vulnerable cities and tied for the second rank, largely because of the size of the cities, degree of exposure (both experience frequent flooding), and relatively low adaptive capacity. Calcutta in India and Phnom Penh in Cambodia are tied for third most vulnerable city, largely because Calcutta is prone to salt-water intrusion and sea-level rise effects, while Phnom Penh has very low adaptive capacity. Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and Shanghai in China are tied for fourth most vulnerable city, because both are very susceptible to sea-level rise, even though Vietnam and China may have slightly higher adaptive capacity when compared to some of the other cities. Bangkok in Thailand is the fifth most vulnerable city, mostly because it has a relatively high socio-economic sensitivity to impacts (i.e., it has a large population and contributes a large proportion towards Thailand’s gross domestic product). Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Hong Kong in China, and Singapore in the Republic of Singapore are all tied for the sixth most vulnerable city, mostly because all three have slightly more adaptive capacity than the other cities, even though the climate impacts are still significant.”



















Mega-Stress for Mega-Cities: A Climate Vulnerability Ranking of Major Coastal Cities in Asia:

World Wildlife Federation Identifies at Risk Asian Cities:

The Greate r Mekong and Climate Change: Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Development at Risk: .

World Wildlife Federation Great Mekong Climate Change:

WATER AND CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE LOWER MEKONG BASIN:Diagnosis & recommendations for adaptation Water and Development Research Group, TKK & Southeast Asia START Regional Center:

“For the Greater Mekong, climate change compounds existing threats affecting the region’s people, biodiversity and natural resources.

Climate change exacerbates the impacts of current environmental threats such as habitat loss, poorly planned infrastructure, and unsustainable natural resource extraction. These threats reduce ecosystem resilience (i.e., the capacity of ecosystems to ‘bounce back’ or recover from disturbances and damage). Climate change further stresses and therefore degrades the ecosystems upon which the region’s social and economic future depends.

Ecosystem deterioration will have cascading effects, which will eventually affect people. For example, water scarcity may reduce agricultural productivity, which will lead to food scarcity, unemployment and poverty.

Among lower Mekong Basin countries, Laos and Cambodia have been identified as the most vulnerable in part because of their limited capacity to cope with climate related risks (Yusuf and Francisco 2009). In all countries, climate change complicates existing problems. For example, rising seas will compound the effects of floods caused by land subsidence and coastal erosion.”

Warming temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns will significantly impact Cambodia and specifically, Phnom Penh. In fact, in a recent mapping assessment Cambodia was identified as being particularly vulnerable to climate change because of climate impacts such as droughts, floods, and sea-level rise and the country’s relatively low adaptive capacity. While Phnom Penh has slightly more financial capacity to respond to climate change impacts, its relatively low elevation, proximity to the ocean and the Mekong River make it particularly vulnerable.
Unfortunately, flooding is not the only threat to Phnom Penh and its residents. Changing precipitation patterns may also adversely affect the quantity and quality of water supplies to the city and result in negative consequences for millions of people. Other threats include the impact of tropical cyclones, which have already increased over the last few decades and are projected to further increase in frequency and intensity. Rising sea levels will also affect Phnom Penh’s fresh water availability by increasing saltwater inundation of low-lying areas and contributing to coastal erosion. Unfortunately, loss of natural coastal land, including mangrove forests, will lead to further erosion and damage as mangroves provide a buffer against storms and storm surges.
Across the region, temperatures have risen by 0.5 to 1.5ºC in the past 50 years and continue to rise. While rainy seasons may contract over parts of the region, overall rainfall is expected to rise. This means more intense rain events when they occur. More frequent and damaging droughts and floods will cause, and have already caused, extensive damage to property and loss of life.
The hydrological impacts of climate change were simulated for the period 2010-2049 based on two main impacts: 1) changed basin hydrology due to climate change-induced changes in temperature  and rainfall, and 2) sea level rise. Subsequently, the modelled climate data was used as input for basinwide hydrological model (to simulate future riverrun-off) as well as for ocean circulation model (to simulate sea level change at the mouth of Mekong River). The impacts of these two climate-related phenomena on the hydrology in the Cambodian floodplains and the Tonle Sap as well as in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam were modelled both separately and together. The modelling results indicate that in the case of the Tonle Sap, the impacts of changing climate are largely to be felt through changes in the flows of the Mekong River, altering the area’s unique flood pulse system and therefore also the high aquatic productivity of the lake-floodplain system. In the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, the impacts are going to be partly felt through changes in the basin, but also through increase in sea water level. Overall, the impacts caused by sea level rise are very consistent throughout the simulated period of 40 years, increasing in magnitude decade by decade, whereas the impacts of changed basin hydrology are more varied in both magnitude and direction of change.”

“The objectives of the Cambodian NAPA are (Ministry of Environment 2006): 

1) understand the main characteristics of climate hazards in Cambodia (flood, drought, windstorm, high tide, salt water intrusion and malaria);

2) understand coping mechanisms to climate hazards and climate change at the grassroots level;

3) understand existing programmes and institutional arrangements for addressing climate hazards and climate change; and

4) identify and prioritise adaptation activities to climate hazards and climate change 

The national priorities sectors for climate change adaptation in Cambodia are agriculture, forestry, human health, and the coastal zone. So far the focus has been mostly on post-disaster assistance, but currently more emphasis is being put on prevention methods while also trying to expand the post-disaster assistance to a larger share of the population.”

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