The implications of the colonial history in delta planing - Delta planning for climate change in the Mekong Delta
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The threat of climate change in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam is an overarching social justice issue which has to be understood for a sustainable solution. The Mekong Delta is one of the areas affected most by climate change in the world. This threatens the livelihoods of those living there and the overall food security in the world, as Vietnam is one of the biggest rice exporters in the world. The policies made for climate change adaptation are often rooted in engineering practices. Additionally, the Mekong Delta has a history of foreign interventions. From French colonialism to an American development model to a political-economical collaboration with the Netherlands. This research investigated how these foreign interventions implicate planning for climate change adaptation, especially looking at the Mekong Delta Plan and Resolution 120. The term coloniality is used for the remaining impact of colonialism and it also encompasses the superiority of the global North after the colonial era. The Colonial Matrix of Power is used to identify coloniality and it contains the struggle for economic control, the struggle for the control of authority, the control of public sphere and the control of knowledge and subjectivity. The Mekong Delta Plan is an example of the Dutch Delta approach where it is implied that Dutch knowledge in delta planning is advanced compared to the countries where the Dutch expertise ‘diffuses’ to. From a historical analysis, a professional actor analysis and a policy analysis, it becomes clear that the remains of the French colonial time still influence planning for climate change adaptation today. This is visible in the way that there is still a dependency on the construction of water management infrastructure today because of the technical interventions in the past. The financials costs of maintaining this infrastructure has led to the dependency of Vietnam on international donors. The plans from multiple international actors to develop the Mekong Delta stems from the fact that they consider the delta as underused. Land is only considered valuable if it has an economic output. By implementing development plans, these international actors exert power over the economic control and the control of authority. The control of knowledge and subjectivity is seen in the promotional text from the Dutch government. This interferes with the existing relationship between the professional communities of Vietnam and the Netherlands which are based on equality. It is argued that for more socially just climate change adaptation planning, future plans have to move away from delta exploitation and delta management approaches towards delta care practices.