By Trina Loken, MAGG Graduate (2017)

The first two months of my placement at UNDP Viet Nam have flown by and it is hard to believe that November is here. These days in Hanoi, the weather is cooling down slightly and monsoon season is waning, making my walks to and from work more enjoyable by the day (although, air pollution does remain a serious problem). Taking advantage of the more temperate weather, I decided to visit Tam Coc in Ninh Binh province over the final weekend of October. Just a couple hours south of Hanoi, Ninh Binh’s fairy tale-like landscapes feature winding rivers and stunning karst mountains. Having stayed put in Hanoi since I arrived in August, briefly escaping the city to enjoy some nature was a nice break. After all, November will certainly be a busy month for all agencies in the Green One UN House where I am based, as all the staff work toward meeting important December deadlines.

In my previous “dispatch from the field,” I mentioned that UNDP Viet Nam and the Government of Viet Nam (GoV) are working to kick-start the implementation phase of the Green Climate Fund (GCF)-supported project “Improving the resilience of vulnerable coastal communities to climate change related impacts in Viet Nam.” An important component of this process is to create an inception report and host an inception workshop to ensure that all parties are on the same page with regard to the technical, financial, and administrative aspects of the project. With three different GoV ministries and seven provincial People’s Committees directly involved, plus three-tiers of involvement from UNDP (the country office, the Bangkok Regional Hub, and Headquarters in New York), and the GCF itself, there are many pieces to fit together in order to ensure the project can start smoothly. Therefore, the UNDP Viet Nam GCF project team is working hard in November to draft the inception report, host project management trainings and the inception workshop, and further develop the monitoring and evaluation system.

When I am not working on elements related to the GCF project, I am copy-editing and preparing for publication a nine-chapter technical manual on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA). This 2017 version is based on a similar one from 2012. However, since that time, there have been a number of pertinent developments internationally and in the Vietnamese context. For example, in regard to institutional arrangements related to DRR and CCA, there is now the Paris Agreement, Sendai Framework, and Sustainable Development Goals, among others, to guide action across countries. In Viet Nam specifically, 2013 saw the promulgation of the Law on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control, which details the GoV’s functions in DRR. The new version incorporates these legal and institutional developments and also provides more scientific data on how Viet Nam is affected by changing patterns of extreme weather events. Once the manual is finalized, it will serve as a practical, contextually-relevant tool for GoV personnel and international actors alike to understand disasters and how disaster risks can be reduced whilst adapting to new climate realities in Viet Nam.

Of course, I do not spend my entire time in Viet Nam within the walls of the Green One UN House working on DRR and CCA issues (however important they are!). I am lucky to have a similarly dynamic and multicultural environment to live in, with my current roommates coming from South Africa, France, and Colombia. I will be the first to say that it is impossible to find life in Hanoi dull. I cannot stress enough how important it is to meet people who can share the joys of navigating this wonderful, chaotic, and sometimes frustrating place, and also be there with you to find humor in the face of occasional adversities. The next four months of this internship will fly by no matter what – that is undeniable. Spending my spare time enjoying what the city and country have to offer has not made the time go any slower, but it certainly has made this entire experience count even more.