“How you can live and adapt to climate change… How you can together tackle the issue of carbon intensity of Vietnam?” – World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim challenged 22 young Vietnamese environmentalists, including myself, at a roundtable discussion on the impacts of climate change to Vietnam during his visit to the country. Around that time, Vietnam and some neighboring countries were hit by typhoon Rammasun. It could have been a coincidence, but it gave us a sense of urgency and how serious the issue of climate change is.
During the discussion, we shared a lot of ideas and activities that we, the Vietnamese youth have carried out to tackle climate change, such as plant-a-tree and recycling campaign, as well as the Earth Hour campaign. Despite our persistent efforts, we seem to struggle in finding a comprehensive solution.
After four years of working in this field, I think this is still a challenge, but also an opportunity for us all to find a new way of dealing with it. It’s time for us to think differently and to balance between economic development and protecting our ecosystem and natural resources.
Some of our neighbors, such as Singapore and South Korea, have applied green technology as key to their economic development strategies. From what we discussed that day, several young people in Vietnam had the same idea.
I was very impressed by the “Zero-waste farm” model introduced by a young farmer named Trang Pham who developed twenty-five technologies that turned waste into resources. Trang showed us a gasification stove which uses rice husk and small twigs to produce heat and discharge biological or semi-biological coal, instead of ash. In a country where 70% of the population still heavily depends on farming like Vietnam, this model is very important to develop sustainable agriculture and pursue sustainable growth.
At the discussion, we shared a lot of initiatives to help raise awareness among the younger generation and developing new technology in response to climate change, but President Kim also emphasized that this is not just about us or our individual projects. It’s a big problem that needs our collective efforts. I couldn’t agree with him more.
I have seen a shift from individual work of various groups to collective efforts. I think campaigns that raise awareness should collaborate with other projects to carry out research, develop modern technology and build on action plans to tackle the issue together.
For example, if a climate change education program targeting rural students can work with Trang Pham’s project to introduce the “zero-waste farm” model to students, parents and the success can be amplified.
As enthusiastic, dynamic young people, we can take the roles of pioneers in connecting the dots. We also need support from the government to enable the working environment and empower young people to scale up these models nationwide.
To continue on the path of sustainable development and coping with climate change, individual change is crucial. It starts from our generation and can be continue on to the next generation. I believe that our efforts, as individuals and as groups doing collective action are like planting seeds, which will bear fruit tomorrow.
Youngsters, are you ready to join our efforts to fight climate change? What are your ideas to connect individual projects into bigger plans? Share your thoughts with us!