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Accepted Paper:

Intersecting visions of sustainability transformation: the case of climate adaptation in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam  
Jacob Weger (Seton Hall University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers the tensions and intersections between various visions of sustainability transformation guiding climate change adaptation in the Mekong Delta, as differently situated actors seek to translate their knowledge and interests into planning and practice.

Paper long abstract:

In recent years, as the Mekong Delta of Vietnam has attracted increasing attention as a hotspot of vulnerability to global climate change, a transnational, multilevel governance apparatus has emerged to facilitate a transformation to sustainable, climate-resilient development. Within this, differently situated actors attempt to translate their visions of sustainability into policy and practice. International partner-led visions embedded in documents such as the Mekong Delta Plan (2013) and the World Bank’s Integrated Climate Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods Project (2016) exist in uneasy alliance with the Vietnamese state’s vision of “building socialism” through “industrialization and modernization,” while local scientists and extensionists further their own visions of sustainability as a public good, and farmers pursue a more dynamic form of resilience, constantly transforming the muddy landscape with their shifting livelihood and land use practices. Based on multi-sited fieldwork in the Netherlands and Vietnam with international development consultants and Vietnamese government officials, scientific experts, provincial bureaucrats, agricultural extension agents, and farmers, this paper explores the intersections and tensions between various imaginaries of resilience embodied in adaptation planning and practice. In particular, it examines the historical, political, economic, and infrastructural constraints shaping adaptation and development in the present, and the interpretive or translational agency of differently situated actors as they attempt to steer a path towards a more sustainable future. Finally, it reflects on differing conceptions of human-environment relations at the heart of these visions, and considers opportunities for achieving a more responsive, equitable, and just transformation.

Panel P16a
Visions of transformation in the Anthropocene: technology, political-moral imagination, and the cascading socio-environmental crises of the twenty-first century
  Session 1 Thursday 9 June, 2022, -