WB awards $400,000 for climate change ideas

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The World Bank on Thursday awarded a total of US$400,000 for implementing 30 innovative ideas on battling climate change in Vietnam.

The winners were chosen out of 61 finalists and announced at a ceremony held to mark the annual Vietnam Innovation Day.

Among the winners were projects on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in producing bricks, a cooking stove that saves on wood, and a climate change-themed coffee shop.

For the winners, getting the prize is the first step to make their ideas become reality.

Thanh Thanh, a member of the group Come Together, said they had been thinking for quite some time about how to approach young people to increase awareness on global issues like climate change.

The idea for a coffee shop was born out of the need to create a fun, entertaining and informative channel for climate change concerned citizens, he said.

The café will have its floor carry messages about climate change and environmental protection, the menu and drinks will be given titles that are thought provoking and related to climate change, with the focus on using recycle materials, saving on energy and using "green foods."

According to Thanh Thanh, funds for the for-profit café will be raised through donations and in return, donors will be given use of shop space for events and promotions to spread green messages.

Some of the finalists who did not make it this time still impressed the audience with their creativity.

My Hanoi, a volunteer group of youths that work to develop, preserve the diverse cultural values of the capital city, proposed to grow "liana" plants in public spaces, especially on sidewalks and near traffic intersections.

These plants, such as bougainvillea or grapevine, can create green spaces while absorbing heat and carbons, according to group members. The idea would be first implemented in one of the local colleges and in some of the less-crowded streets, they said.

According to organizers, this year's contest had the highest number of finalists, chosen from 252 applications nationwide. The competition also received many proposals written by residents who are direct victims of climate change effects.

Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank country director, said she hopes that some of the winning ideas will be taken into consideration by local authorities and government agencies, and thus be integrated into the national program to combat climate change.

"It shows the potential of civil society that must be tapped into the development picture here in Vietnam," Kwakwa said in her opening speech. "Civil society is a critical partner to address this challenge. Solutions will not just come from high levels."

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