Our confirmed speakers


Dr. Nigel K. Downes

Can Tho University

About the Speaker

Dr. Nigel K. Downes studied geography in the UK and environmental management in Germany. He is currently an integrated expert at the College of Environment and Natural Resources, Can Tho University, in a position supported by German development cooperation. He has over 10 years research experience in Vietnam, firstly in developing an adaptation planning framework for Ho Chi Minh City (2008-2013) and secondary analysis of the urban development of Da Nang, for improved spatial and environmental planning towards sustainable infrastructure, environmental and resource management (2014-2019). His work continues to be focused on urban environmental planning, the development of urban monitoring and indicator assessments, and embedding spatial climate adaptation solutions into urban planning frameworks.


Shedding light on urban development transitions and climate change risks in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Concern for climate change impacts in Ho Chi Minh City is rapidly rising due to the compounding effects of climate change and strong urbanization. Both state and city-level governments are concerned that the city is faced with a projected increase in the intensity and frequency of both pluvial and fluvial flooding, as well as sea-level rise and coastal storm surges, while already being confronted with environmental stresses, such as land subsidence. The continued growth of the city increases its flood risks by expansion into low-lying flood plains and reducing flood detention and retention capacity through urban renewal, densification, and surface sealing. Yet, despite these increasing risks, the authorities have struggled to develop adequate adaptation responses which allow for fundamental risk reduction, whilst still enabling resilient urban development pathways. This contribution uses an urban structure type approach to analyze 10 years of recent urban development (2010-2020), outlining the changes to both the urban morphology and socio-economic fabric of the city. Current and future exposure, risk, and resilience are all dependent upon the decisions on how to use land and the choices that are made regarding which structures are built, their location, and at which densities. The exposure and sensitivity pattern of each individual block development, therefore, determines the ultimate risk to climatic hazards for the whole city. The analysis promotes the integration of people-centered and place-specific decentralized adaptation options into formal urban planning frameworks, allowing for the re-examination of development processes and pathways.