Do strategic delta plans get implemented? The case of the Mekong Delta Plan

Chris Seijger*, Vo Thi Minh Hoang, Gerardo van Halsema, Wim Douven, Andrew Wyatt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


A strategic delta plan can alter the course of delta management. Implementation of such a plan essentially involves a change of minds about delta management priorities and strategies for sustainable livelihoods. Such a change of minds, or “soft implementation”, must come before material, or “hard”, implementation can take off. To explore the influence of strategic delta plans in bringing about a change of minds among the actors involved, we examined four features of soft implementation: prospects for change, new mental models, consent and decision-making. We then applied these features to analyse implementation of the Mekong Delta Plan (MDP). The MDP envisions agro-industrialisation in the Mekong Delta, with dynamic land use, high-value commodities and enhanced interprovincial collaboration. We found that 3 years after its completion, the MDP has indeed been influential in introducing new ways of thinking about both delta problems and transformative strategies for agribusiness development. Minds have changed at all levels of the planning system, though change at the local level remains most limited. Implementation is fragile, however, as a small though influential group actively promotes and subscribes to the MDP’s precepts. The plan has influenced national policies, provincial project proposals and donor loans. We found the four features to provide a valuable entry point for assessing the influence and effectiveness of the strategic delta plan. They might prove useful to planners, investors and researchers too in designing and evaluating strategic planning processes for more sustainable land and water resources management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1131-1145
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number4
Early online date9 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Governance
  • Mekong Delta
  • Social learning
  • Soft implementation
  • Strategic planning
  • Transitions


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