Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Upland development, climate-related risk and institutional conditions for adaptation in Vietnam

Beckman, Malin; Nguyen, My Van Thi;


The paper argues that policies towards upland communities in Vietnam tend to reinforce land use strategies that increase vulnerability to climate-related risk and undermine adaptive capacity of upland communities. It is argued that the division of land use between intensive agriculture/tree plantation and protected forest is increasing both livelihood- and environmental risk. Qualitative interviews and group discussion with upland villagers and local government staff in two districts of north and central Vietnam suggest that farmers are facing frequent loss and damage due to floods, storms and drought. Changing production patterns, together with the increase in climate-related hazards and stresses, is changing the character of vulnerability of upland communities. The study primarily explores village-level perspectives regarding impacts of hazards and stresses, ideas of how to reduce risk, along with how related policies and institutions influence local possibilities of risk reduction and adaptation. Our fieldwork results suggest that many villagers and local leaders see adaptation and risk reduction in terms of improved irrigation and in terms of access to land and forests for their livelihoods. The findings support arguments for more integration of agriculture and forestry land use, allowing for more flexibility in the development of upland livelihoods, with the aim of facilitating adaptation to climate change.


climate risk; ethnic minorities; marginalization; climate change adaptation; land use; Vietnam; uplands; Mekong region; forest policies

Published in

Climate and Development

2016, volume: 8, number: 5, pages: 413-422

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
Nguyen, My Van Thi
University of Hue

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG13 Climate action

UKÄ Subject classification

Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)