Socio-economic scenarios with focus on water resources and land use.
Based on two main driving forces of socio-economic development 1) agro-based versus industrial development and 2) effective implementation of land-use and water policies, four development scenarios have been designed that represent plausible outcomes based on global and regional developments, master plan objectives, the natural system and its limitations, institutional barriers and past and existing trends. Two scenarios depict positive economic developments for the delta with pro-active planning and optimisation of resources and measures, distinctive in their degree and type of industrialisation of the economy. Two other scenarios depict intensification of current economic development trends in the delta (one primarily agricultural, the other primarily industrial) that are not spatially optimised.
Business as usual scenario
This scenario represents a continuation of existing trends and developments, with an organic urban and industrial growth along the economic corridors in the delta. As local governments lack investment resources, they take advantage of existing corridor transport routes for development. The delta economy is increasingly divided into two zones: an industrialised metropolis in a highly fertile and flood-prone area and a rural hinterland characterised by fierce competition and stagnating growth. The premise of this scenario is that the comparative advantage of the different land characteristics of the delta is not respected, resulting in a loss of prime agricultural and productive land to urbanisation and industrialisation with subsequent high investments for flood protection and fresh water supply.
The Dual Node Industrialisation scenario follows a multi-sectoral approach, focusing on rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, and building upon the natural advantages and the agricultural value added industrialisation. In this scenario, the delta develops into a thriving diversified economy, where high-value agro-food business prospers, congruent with secondary and tertiary sector activities in designated economic zones. Total output and productivity increases significantly. Land and water pressures are high, but dealt with in an effective and coherent manner, leading to efficient use of all resources and preservation of ecosystems.
In this scenario, the delta is not able to materialise its anticipated economic transition due to an unfavourable economic climate, a lack of integrated regional policy (and enforcement) on designated economic hubs, and suboptimal infrastructural investments combined with increasing impacts of climate change. Tight government targets on rice production remain or even intensify due to resulting food commodity shortages. As a result, pressures on land and water resources will continue to increase.
In the agro-business industrialisation scenario, the Mekong Delta develops into a regional hub specialised in high value agriculture and agro-food products for both export as well as domestic markets. This is realised through a clear focus on its unique advantages instead of duplicating the industrialisation patterns of other provinces. Non-agro food industrial and tertiary sector activities, except for related services & industries such as logistics, machinery & equipment are directed outside the delta, enabling an economic development and GDP growth that deviates from the national average.