Population dynamics, delta vulnerability and environmental change: comparison of the Mekong, Ganges–Brahmaputra and Amazon delta regions

Sylvia Szabo, Eduardo Brondizio, Fabrice G. Renaud, Scott Hetrick, Robert J. Nicholls, Zoe Matthews, Zachary Tessler, Alejandro Tejedor, Zita Sebesvari, Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, Sandra da Costa, John A. Dearing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

Tropical delta regions are at risk of multiple threats including relative sea level rise and human alterations, making them more and more vulnerable to extreme floods, storms, surges, salinity intrusion, and other hazards which could also increase in magnitude and frequency with a changing climate. Given the environmental vulnerability of tropical deltas, understanding the interlinkages between population dynamics and environmental change in these regions is crucial for ensuring efficient policy planning and progress toward social and ecological sustainability. Here, we provide an overview of population trends and dynamics in the Ganges–Brahmaputra, Mekong and Amazon deltas. Using multiple data sources, including census data and Demographic and Health Surveys, a discussion regarding the components of population change is undertaken in the context of environmental factors affecting the demographic landscape of the three delta regions. We find that the demographic trends in all cases are broadly reflective of national trends, although important differences exist within and across the study areas. Moreover, all three delta regions have been experiencing shifts in population structures resulting in aging populations, the latter being most rapid in the Mekong delta. The environmental impacts on the different components of population change are important, and more extensive research is required to effectively quantify the underlying relationships. The paper concludes by discussing selected policy implications in the context of sustainable development of delta regions and beyond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-554
Number of pages16
JournalSustainability Science
Volume11
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research forms part of the international Belmont Forum project BF-DELTAS “Catalyzing action toward sustainability of deltaic systems with an integrated modeling framework for risk assessment”. Sylvia Szabo, Zoe Matthews, Robert Nicholls and John Dearing also acknowledge support from the project ‘Assessing health, livelihoods, ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in populous deltas’ (NE/J002755/1) funded by the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation Programme (ESPA). Eduardo S. Brondizio acknowledge support from the United States National Science Foundation to Indiana University (NSF # 1342898). The UK ESPA programme is funded by the Department for International Development, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Funding Information:
The research forms part of the international Belmont Forum project BF-DELTAS "Catalyzing action toward sustainability of deltaic systems with an integrated modeling framework for risk assessment". Sylvia Szabo, Zoe Matthews, Robert Nicholls and John Dearing also acknowledge support from the project 'Assessing health, livelihoods, ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in populous deltas' (NE/J002755/1) funded by the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation Programme (ESPA). Eduardo S. Brondizio acknowledge support from the United States National Science Foundation to Indiana University (NSF # 1342898). The UK ESPA programme is funded by the Department for International Development, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Amazon delta
  • Delta vulnerability
  • Ganges–Brahmaputra delta
  • Mekong delta
  • Population change

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