© Adam Oswell / WWF-Greater Mekong
Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta is one of the largest and most fertile deltas in Asia and indeed in the world. 

It covers about four million hectares and supports a population of about 18 million people who depend on it for agriculture and aquaculture. Its freshwater habitats range from floodplains, wetlands and mangrove forests, to mudflats, sea grasses, riparian vegetation, paddy land and peatlands, all which host more than 450 species of fish. It is also considered among the world’s five most vulnerable deltas.  

As urbanisation rapidly expands across the Mekong Delta, the region is expected to increase to nearly 22 million people in 2050. With that, the growing demand for construction materials, essential services and energy and food production is now pushing the delta beyond its capacity.

Water security is at risk in various locations of the delta, especially in coastal and estuarine areas, due to human activity. With widespread agriculture in the area, crops such as rice heavily depend on and deplete groundwater and its ability to replenish, leading to the loss of wetlands and floodplains. Meanwhile, pollution and untreated waste from industries is contaminating water sources which communities depend on.

Unsustainable sand mining and upstream dams are, too, contributing to further subsidence, riverbank erosion and incision. In addition, poor policy frameworks, weak law enforcement, lack of community engagement in decision-making, lack of awareness and lack of sustainable financing are all social, political and economic drivers of the landscape’s degradation.

Adding to this, climate change is exacerbating various disaster risks, including saltwater intrusion, coastal erosion, flooding and drought. Grey infrastructure solutions such as high dikes and sea dikes which were meant to increase the landscape’s and communities’ resilience have instead disrupted the natural cycles and flows of the ecosystem. These challenges are impacting the biodiversity and habitats in the delta, and the communities whose lives depend on it.

What WWF is doing

In order to protect the Mekong Delta, its wildlife, natural resources and the communities who depend on them, we are working with partners to:

  • Protect the natural morphology and ecosystem integrity of the delta through stakeholder engagement and by promoting a sand budget plan
  • Engaging businesses in targeted sectors including textile, agriculture and aquaculture in addressing water risks and in developing production standards that embrace water and river stewardship principles
  • Ensuring at least 60,000 ha of critical wetland habitats are conserved through improved wetland management and community engagement
  • Promoting climate-smart and regenerative food production systems by building linkages between actors along value chains 
  • Promoting sustainable renewable energy and implementation of the National Adaptation Plan and Nationally-Determined Contributions at national and provinces level 
  • Identifying and promoting large-scale bankable projects on climate change adaptation and nature-based solutions and incentivising investment in sustainable industry practices