The environmental youth movement in Vietnam is totally amazing! Starting from almost no activities at all, it has grown and evolved rapidly in just the last 2-3 years, with new groups popping up like mushrooms in the forest. In Hanoi we were immediately thrown in to experience this whirlwind of excited committed youth who eagerly showed us their initiatives for a sustainable future.
We arrived in Hanoi’s train station a bit earlier than estimated and watched a bright sun go up while waiting for Jenny, a participant of the Tunza Conference 2009, who kindly offered to pick us up. That was the start of an eventful 5 days in Hanoi, which we spent travelling between different meetings on the back of various motorbikes, the superior most common means of transport here in Hanoi.
The first meeting was with Jenny’s organisation, the Vietnamese branch of the Bayer Young Environmental Envoy Program. This is one of the first youth groups that was formed in Hanoi around environmental issues, with funding support from the Bayer company. Many voluntary groups in Vietnam accept funding from private companies, since that’s available and makes their activities possible.
We had a round of introduction, talked about our project and invited the participants to sign our already famous banner. During the meeting we mentioned that we didn’t have a place to stay in Hanoi yet. Hannah, one of the members, arranged a homestay with her friend Phuong. Three youth helped us to move our stuff there, again by motorbike of course.
Then we went to a meeting organized by the Green Generation Network, which helps to disseminate information between all the different environmental groups in Hanoi. It’s a network of organizations and individuals who share concerns and are willing to learn and initiate change for the betterment of the environment. They had borrowed a meeting room in the Vietnam office of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and invited all the environmental youth groups to attend.
We were lucky that IUCN lent us a big space, because with all the participants we could barely fit in the room. This was the largest meeting of this campaign so far. There were about 60 people belonging to more than 15 different clubs, NGOs and media. Among these were Talking Green, Cycling for Environment, Biology and Environment, 3R Club, Green Recycle, 360°, RAECP, Students and Environment, Bayer Young Environmental Envoy Vietnam, Green Generation Network, Live and Learn, Oxfam Vietnam, Youth for the Environment, Volunteers for the Environment and IUCN Vietnam.
We had a really interesting meeting, with the different groups talking and sharing information with us and with each other about their upcoming activities. A lot of things are planned for the Global Climate Week that is starting right now around the world, and we discussed how to link existing initiatives even more with global efforts and campaigns such as 350.org
and the International Youth Climate Movement.
The meeting went on for hours, and in between the sessions we had energizers, environmental games and songs. We also went out on the street for another display of our banner. Everyone was really eager to sign it, add some more handprints and take lots of pictures. While all this happened, Sara answered a video interview with VTV6, talked about the project and the importance of taking action to stop climate change.