Bach Tan Sinh, PhD, National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategy Studies, Ministry of Science and Technology, and Ngo Cong Chinh, MPA, of the Research Center for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change, Asian Management and Development Institute Vietnam, write about the importance of understanding different audiences for climate change communications in Vietnam:
Vietnam is one of the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This is particularly true in low-lying coastal and delta areas, where impacts are likely to be exacerbated by poor urban development that concentrates vulnerable groups in high risk locations.
The Government of Vietnam is committed to making it possible for affected communities to adapt and combat the impacts of climate change. But while communities are familiar with current climate risks, they may not recognize how these are likely to change in the future. They are therefore not able to make informed decisions about how to respond or adapt.
Climate scientists have generally done a poor job of communicating climate change information and uncertainty to non-scientific audiences. To more effectively prepare those most at risk, it is important that those undertaking communications understand what vulnerable people perceive their risks to be compared to other stakeholders, such as researchers and government officials. This understanding can reveal where the gaps in knowledge are, how to effectively frame and share key messages, and where communications need to be targeted.
In January 2012, Vietnam’s National Institute for Science Technology Policy and Strategy Studies, in collaboration with the Asian Management and Development Institute, launched a research project to design effective communication tools to improve understanding of the risks associated with climate change on the part of various stakeholders in Vietnam. Funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre, the three-year project is being carried out in the cities of Da Nang, Quy Nhon, and Can Tho.
This project adopts a learning-oriented approach to communications. The researchers will assess how different stakeholders including experts, officials, teachers and schoolchildren and local residents a understand types, levels, and sources of climate and water-related risk and uncertainty. In addition to desk research and surveys, they are creating multiple opportunities for people to learn from one another in each location using an inclusive and participatory approach. These opportunities for social learning will be facilitated by local Risk Communication Working Groups of 7-10 individuals– including teachers, city planners, environment officers with expertise on the target audiences, specific communication and media techniques , as well as in disaster risk management and climate change adaptation.
The researchers will also devise and test communication tools for disseminating information on changing climate risk and response. They will share findings with local and national policymakers so that they can improve their communication of climate change risk and the implementation of adaptation programs across the country. The findings are expected to contribute to municipal Climate Action Plans. Ultimately, this research should contribute to Vietnam’s overall effort to address the impacts of climate change.
This research will build on a strong existing partnership between the Rockefeller Foundation’s Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network and the three municipal governments.
For more information about the research, visit the National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategy Studies’ website and the Asian Management and Development Institute’s site.