In January 2010, Dr. Joe Hobbs participated in the USAID-sponsored STAR (Support for Trade Acceleration) Seminar on the Law and Economics of International Integration for the Ho Chi Minh National Academy for Political and Public Administration in Hanoi. Presenting to the group of Vietnamese government officials, Dr. Hobbs talked about Climate Change and GIS: Issues for Spatial Planning and Public Policy in Vietnam. Vietnam is widely regarded as among the top ten countries most likely to be impacted by climate change. He displayed Geographic Information Systems scenarios of the impacts of sea level rise on the Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City and other parts of Vietnam, and spoke about impacts of climate change on agriculture, biodiversity, public health and especially vulnerable populations in poor rural and urban communities.

The presentation showcased Vietnam’s ambitious National Target Program (NTP) for adaptation to climate change, and some of the critical decisions facing Vietnamese policy makers in the coming years. Much of Hobbs’ data was generously provided by Dr. Tran Thuc, Head of the Ministry of Natural Environment (MONRE)’s agency charged with the responsibility for designing and implementing the NTP.

In their meetings, Dr. Thuc and Dr. Hobbs discussed opportunities for collaboration between MU and MONRE in research on climate change. Can Tho University’s “Delta Research and Global Observation Network” (DRAGON) Institute Vice Director Dr. Nguyen Hieu Trung, along with several MU Geography/GRC colleagues, also assisted Dr. Hobbs with materials for his presentation.

In Dr. Hobbs’ other meetings, MU’s Department of Geography was confirmed as an associate of Vietnam National University-Hanoi’s International Center for Advanced Research on Global Change (ICARGC), and Dr. Hobbs discussed developing a collaborative Masters of Science in Climate Change program between VNU and MU Geography. During his January visit, Dr. Hobbs also participated in the Vietnam-U.S. Conference on Higher Education. Education reform continues to be a priority for the Government of Vietnam, and MU’s role in this effort is growing, particularly in helping Vietnamese students prepare for education in the United States.