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Cumulative pressures on sustainable livelihoods: coastal adaptation in the Mekong Delta

Many coastal areas at risk from sea level rise and the increased intensity of extreme weather events. Simultaneously, these areas are also experiencing significant socio-economic challenges associated with rural-urban transitions, population growth and increased consumption resulting from improving gross regional product. Recognition that climate change mitigation efforts will be insufficient to ensure community resilience has prompted an increased focus on the facilitation of adaptive responses. This paper explores the viability of proposed adaptation pathways in Soc Trang province, Vietnam, which is an area of the Mekong Delta experiencing cumulative pressures on coastal livelihoods. The study finds that emphasising sustainable livelihoods is less likely to lead to maladaptation, because stakeholders consciously seek to avoid optimising particular system elements at the expense of others and thus engage in broader decision-making frameworks supportive of social-ecological resilience.