Thinking green

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An ever increasing group of young people is working to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the environment in Vietnam

Youths join in the "green generation joins eco-handprints" campaign held by Vietnam Green Generation Network in Ho Chi Minh City. The network of environment organizations and individuals has held several effective events to raise awareness about protecting the environment in the community.

"I've always held a deep respect for nature and the environment, but it's only recently that I've learned how to protect it," says twenty-year-old Phuong Tan Dat, a sophomore studying pedagogy at Can Tho University.

This recent accruement of knowledge is thanks to the Vietnam Youth and Sustainable Development Forum 2009 (VYS), held for the first time in Vietnam last year by Vietnam Green Generation Network (VGGN), under the umbrella of Live&Learn for Environment and Community. The mission of VYS is to train young people to become "green change agents" and to spread awareness of environmental protection in the community.

"VYS 2009 has helped me a lot. Thanks to them, I now know how to take action to protect the environment," recognized Dat.

Since returning from the five-day summit last October, Dat and other young people in Can Tho City in the Mekong Delta have visited local students at primary and secondary schools in the area to raise awareness of environmental protection.

"We organized several campaigns in many schools to educate students as to how the environment can affect quality of life and the harmful consequences of climate change," he told Thanh Nien Weekly.

The group has also offered guidelines to local teachers to build "green models" including planting trees and flower gardens in empty spaces at schools. Dat has organized bike rides to promote the cause and encouraged students to cycle to school as well as discussing various ways to protect the local environment.

One place where his words have hit home is Ly Tu Trong High School.

"The students at the school have categorized garbage and made trash bins from recycled cans," Dat said, adding that he is committed to carrying out similar campaigns.

"I want to tell the youth that, with a little enthusiasm, they can do anything. They can take action to protect the environment which will, in turn, lead them to a better future," he said.

A nice surprise

HCMC students band together to protect wildlife

University students in Ho Chi Minh City have set up a club designed to keep an eye on city wildlife.

The local chapter of the Action for Wildlife Volunteer Club (AWVC) was launched on July 25 with 43 volunteers.

The club members will receive training on basic species identification and field procedures. Most of the founding members participate in the Wildlife Protection Volunteer Network coordinated by Education for Nature-Vietnam the country's first local nongovernmental organization (NGO) to focus on environmental conservation.

The new club is part of an ENV initiative aimed at ensuring better local coordination of volunteers in their wildlife crime monitoring and surveillance tasks. The project is based on a Da Nang chapter that was established in mid-June.

Source: Thanh Nien

Le Thuy Dung, another green change agent from the 2009 summit, said since the event, she had been surprised at what could be achieved.

"It is really amazing to see how young people can make a change in the community [with regards to raising awareness of protecting the environment]," the twenty-year-old student at the Foreign Trade University in Ho Chi Minh City said.

 "I didn't believe that I could contribute to the community until I went to VYS 2009. There are other youths full of enthusiasm who echo your thoughts and sentiments about protecting the environment. As long as you are determined and make an effort, others will follow you."

Dung and other students have organized Saigon350, a project initiated in 2009 that aims to raise awareness of the environment in HCMC.

"We are about to hold the "˜Hello Green' campaign this month in HCMC, which will include talking to students about protecting the environment at four high schools and an environment day to get local youths involved in various activities," she said.

She also revealed a plan to connect environment protection groups in northern and central provinces to further promote campaigns.

More green missions afoot

Dat and Dung are two of many "green change agents" who have actively contributed to protecting the environment, and there will soon be more.

Following the success of the first VYS summit with 50 participants, Vietnam Green Generation Network is organizing the second summit this month with 75 local youths due to attend.

The event, titled "Tomorrow Starts Today," is scheduled to take place in Hanoi from August 8 to 25 and is expected to develop the vision of a sustainable future while acknowledging the challenges to do with climate change in Vietnam. It will focus particularly on the impact upon vulnerable groups and the poor.

The summit is also the salient event in the campaign "Green Generation Joins Eco Handprints" to celebrate the First Millennium of Thang Long-Hanoi, including Climate Change Action Day on October 24.

Topics and themes to be presented at the summit will include climate change, biodiversity, natural disasters, energy, sustainable production and consumption, and the poor and the vulnerable. Participants will attend film screenings, participate in discussions, presentations, field trips, skill training and team work, VGGN said in a statement about the event.

Participants, aged 18-30, are those who are committed to protecting the environment. As a "green change agent," they will take what they have learnt about leading a sustainable life and tell family, friends and the local community, the statement said.

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