Climate change, particularly global warming and sea level rise, is one of the biggest challenges human beings are facing in the 21st century.
Located in the Southeast of Asia, Vietnam has a total land area of 329,569 square kilometre and an estimated population of over 92 million. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Vietnam has been ranked among the countries severely affected by climate change and sea level rise. Over the past 50 years, the average temperature in Viet Nam has increased by approximately 0.
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5°C and the sea level has risen by about 20cm (IPPC, 2018). Extreme climate events have increased in terms of both frequency and intensity, especially typhoons, floods, droughts, saltwater intrusion and landslides. The residents in rural areas are highly vulnerable to climate change because they must depend on natural resources to maintain their lives (e.g.: crops, fish, raw materials, forest, etc.).
It is estimated that 80-90% of Vietnam’s population are affected by storms; many people in deep-lying and remote areas and ethic minority groups are being suffered from natural disasters like hail, droughts and floods (MONRE, 2016). The impacts of climate change are unpredictable; however, it is certain that the climate change is a serious risk to poverty reduction and the achievement of the millennium development goals and sustainable development in Vietnam.Rationale for the communication campaignAlthough climate change is of global concern, developing countries such as Vietnam are often more vulnerable to the impacts due to poverty, illiteracy, and low public awareness (Thaker, J., Zhao, X. ; Leiserowitz, A., 2017, p.356).
In recognition of the potential impacts of climate change, the Government of Vietnam also launched the National Target Program to Respond to Climate Change in 2015. However, it is a fact that creating national climate policy is challenging (Tompkins, E.L. and Adger, W. N., 2005, p.
562) and its successful implementation requires strong involvement of stakeholders, communities and businesses. But if the public lacks complete information, neither concern nor action is likely to be taken (Norgaard, K., M., 2010, p.
12). It has been claimed that the public admits being confused over ozone hole and global climate change, between weather and climate and regarding causes of climate change, which stems from how climate change science is communicated (Andrea, L., 2009, p.2). Obviously, climate change is a complex issue which takes a lot of time and real knowledge to translate public concern into action as it is still abstract and distant from daily lives and accords with conflicts between economic benefits and political benefits and conflicts among countries (Norgaard, K.
, M., 2010, p.24). After nearly 3 years of implementation, target groups with higher literacy such as government agencies at central and provincial levels, public and private enterprises, socio-political organizations and mass organizations have better understanding of climate change and its concepts.
In contrast, grassroot levels and rural populations have a limited access to information; therefore, their role is not yet clear. Even, the Program has successfully developed a number of pilot models in reducing greenhouse gas emissions such as diversification of annual crops, integration of crop and livestock systems, and utilization of diseases-resistant seed varieties, the Earth Hour movements, use of solar power and so on. Nevertheless, these models have only been piloted in some provinces and not yet brought about spillover effects across the country. Therefore, to ensure the success of the Program, it is essential to build trust and create individuals’ cognitive and behavioral change, accordingly accepting and accompanying in implementing the government’s policies. Moreover, awareness leads to action when it needs to be built on the clear and trustworthy sources of information (Andrea, L.
, 2009, p.3). As a result, they will gradually believe that global warming is happening and human-caused, and then they will support for policies to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts (Edenhofer, O. et al, 2014, p.186).
In this regard, the use of communication campaigns, by which a series of messages are designed, will be the best way to inform and educate the public about the issues as complex as climate change (Crawford, E.C. and Okigbo, C.C., 2014, p.11).
In addition, the communication campaign will play a vital role in networking the government with the communities, especially rural residents.