Hanoi: Climate Risk and Response

Source: SPOT Image

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and has been an important commercial and cultural hub for over 1000 years. Situated in the Red River Delta, the city is now facing increasing threats from sea level rise, changing precipitation patterns, and flooding. The region is urbanizing at a rate of 3.4% annually, and ten thousand people currently live in the flood risk zone. In addition to the flood risk, the transportation and waste water infrastructure of the city are inadequate for rainfall events of 100mm/hour or greater, and are only going to be further overwhelmed by increasing high-intensity rainfall in the future.

Multiplying risks is the land use pattern that is concentrating development on agricultural land while overlooking poorer existing traditional village areas. While current water management plans address flooding and extreme events, they neglect to take sea level rise and changing precipitation patterns into account. Furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) currently overlap in their responsibilities for protecting the watershed and providing the public water supply. However, Hanoi is well prepared with evacuation and disaster management plans under prevailing conditions. The city, as well as Vietnam as a whole, is involved in international efforts to mitigate climate change, although it is not adequately prepared to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Given the severity of the risks and the opportunity to plan for climate change impacts as Hanoi grows to accommodate its expanding population, adaptation is a priority.

To prepare for adaptation, it is recommended for the city to create an integrated water management plan for the entire Hanoi Capital Region of 12.46 million people. The plan would account for sea level rise and changing precipitation to ensure resilience to infrastructure while at the same time providing for rainwater catchment, clean drinking water, and sanitary waste disposal. Ongoing research from the Ministry of Science and Technology would be instrumental in the development of relevant solutions within the water management plan.

It is also recommended that the plan be implemented by a new government ministry with oversight of MoNRE and MARD. This would allow the two to pursue separate mandates to 1) protect and preserve natural resources, and to 2) provide the public water supply, while also establishing a structure in which they could work together cohesively.

To adequately plan for the needs of the city, local knowledge and public input must be incorporated into the plan. An independent research institution would be optimally suited to assess on-the-ground information and report to the government. This would establish a mechanism for the government to receive public feedback on the effectiveness of the water management plan and provide a vehicle for the public to contribute to the development of the plan.


This article is a product of Professor Shagun Mehrotra’s Climate Change and Cities class. Analysis is based on the Framework for City Climate Risk Assessment and Climate Change and Cities:First Assessment Report of the Urban Climate Change Research Network. Views expressed are entirely those of the authors. 



Asian Trends Monitoring (2012, October 15), Infographic: Hanoi’s Poor struggle to get access to basic services. Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore. Retrieved from https://futurechallenges.org/local/infographic-hanois-poor-struggle-to-get-access-to-basic-services/

Associated Press [AP]. (2008, November 2) Retrieved from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7703672.stm

Bertaud, A. (2011, June 15). Hanoi urban structure: Spatial Development Issues and Potential. Retrieved from http://alainbertaud.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/AB_Chapter-10_transport-HANOI-_graph_aug_28_2013_FINAL_kkB.pdf

Brahic, C. (2007, March 28). Coastal Living – a growing global threat. New Scientist. Retrieved from http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11483-coastal-living–a-growing-global-threat.html#.VHkfZlfF9bs

Climatemaps.com (n.d.). Hanoi Climate & Temperature. Retrieved from http://www.hanoi.climatemps.com

Encyclopedia Britannica Online. (2013, July 23). Hanoi. Retrieved from: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/254479/Hanoi

General Statistics Office of Vietnam [GSO]. (2010, July 22). Media Release: The 2009 Population and Housing Census. Retrieved from http://www.gso.gov.vn/default_en.aspx?tabid=599&ItemID=9788

Geographic coordinates of Hanoi, Vietnam. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://dateandtime.info/citycoordinates.php?id=1581130

Hanoi climate and weather. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.wordtravels.com/Cities/Vietnam/Hanoi/Climate

Heitmann, B. (n.d.). Eine Einstellung zur Arbeit. Harun Farocki Filmproduktion. Retrieved from http://www.labour-in-a-single-shot.net/en/workshops/hanoi/

Hieu, N. N. (2011). Urban New Slums in Hanoi – new approach to old risks. Retrieved from http://www.forum-urban-futures.net/activities/papers/urban-new-slum-hanoi-new-approach-old-risk

Huong, T., & Hwong, B. (2012, December 11). Slum city emerges near famous market. Viet Nam News. Retrieved from http://vietnamnews.vn/social-issues/233909/slum-city-emerges-near-famous-market.html

Huong, X. T., Truong, T. A., & Dinh, T. T. P. (2013, October). Urban poverty in Vietnam – a view from complimentary assessments. International Institute for Environment and Development. Retrieved from http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/10633IIED.pdf

INSTA37 Hanoi. (n.d.). Discover Hanoi. Retrieved from http://www.inta37.org/index.php/en/pages/inta37-decouvrir-hanoi

Malay Mail Online (2014, July 22) Typhoon Rammasun kills 27 in Vietnam. http://www.themalaymailonline.com/world/article/typhoon-rammasun-kills-27-in-vietnam

Minh, T. (2014, April 7). Functions and responsibilities of National Water Resources Council. Vietnam Breaking News. Retrieved from http://www.vietnambreakingnews.com/2014/04/functions-and-responsibilities-of-national-water-resources-council/

Molle, F. & Chu, T. H. (2009). IWMI Research Report 131: Implementing Integrated River Basin Management: Lessons from the Red River Basin, Vietnam. International Water Management Institute. Retrieved from http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/Publications/IWMI_Research_Reports/PDF/PUB131/RR131.pdf

National Strategy on Climate Change. (2011). Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. Retrieved from http://www.chinhphu.vn/portal/page/portal/English/strategies/strategiesdetails?categoryId=30&articleId=10051283

Nguyen, K. (2010). Vietnam National Programmes to Respond to Climate Change. Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Vietnam. Retrieved from http://rmportal.net/library/content/translinks/translinks-2010/forest-trends/2010-southeast-asia-katoomba-meeting-xvii-hanoi-vietnam/Presentation_NationalProgramsonClimateChange.pdf/view

Pham, M., Nguyen, T., & Nguyen, T. (Eds.). (2013). Hanoi aims to lower poverty rate. The Voice of Vietnam. Retrieved from http://english.vov.vn/Society/Development/Hanoi-aims-to-lower-poverty-rate/253885.vov

Pham, T. K. P. (2012, July). Impact of climate change on rice production in Vietnam. Asia Geospatial Digest. Retrieved from http://www.geospatialworld.net/paper/application/ArticleView.aspx?aid=25243

SPOT Image (n.d.) Hanoi seen from Spot Satellite. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanoi

United Nations Environment Programme [UNEP]. (2009). Vietnam Assessment Report on Climate Change. Retrieved from http://www.unep.org/climatechange/adaptation/ScienceandAssessments/VietnamAssessmentReport/tabid/29576/Default.aspx

United Nations Operational Satellite Applications Programme [UNOSAT]. (2008). Overview of Flood Waters in Ha Noi Province, Vietnam. Retrieved from http://reliefweb.int/map/viet-nam/overview-flood-waters-ha-noi-province-vietnam-flood-analysis-dmc-recorded-09-november

United Nations. (2013, July). Viet Nam Basic Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.un.org.vn/en/about-viet-nam/basic-statistics.html

Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. (n.d.) Vietnam – Country and people. Retrieved from http://www.vietnamtourism.com/e_pages/country/overview.asp?uid=1752

Weather Channel. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://godfreydaily.com/2014/07/18/super-typhoon-rammasun-slams-hainan-china-typhoon-warning-for-northern-vietnam-weather-com/

World Bank. (n.d.) Climate Resilient Cities: A Primer on Reducing Vulnerabilities to Disasters. Retrieved from http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTEAPREGTOPURBDEV/Resources/573631-1233613121646/hanoi_extop.pdf

World Bank. (n.d.) Vietnam: Map of the Incidence of Poverty of Each District. http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTPOVERTY/EXTPA/0,,contentMDK:20759928~menuPK:462078~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:430367~isCURL:Y~isCURL:Y,00.html

World Bank Group. (2015). Global Monitoring Report 2014/2015: Ending Poverty and Sharing Prosperity. Retrieved from http://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/gmr/gmr2014/GMR_2014_Full_Report.pdf

World Meteorological Organization [WMO]. (2014, July 31). Climatological Information: Hanoi 30-year period. Retrieved from http://worldweather.wmo.int/en/city.html?cityId=308