Vietnamese children raise their voices for action on climate change
HANOI, Viet Nam, 24 August 2009 – Nguyen Thi Ngoc Anh, a 16-year-old girl from Da Nang Province, will not soon forget the two-day workshop she attended in Hanoi earlier this month. There, she had a chance not only to meet with children from all the regions of Viet Nam, but also to learn about and discuss an issue that could have an enormous impact on all children’s lives: climate change.
Ngoc Anh was proud to be selected by her peers at the workshop as one of five children who will represent Viet Nam at the Children's Climate Forum, to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark from 28 November to 4 December 2009. The Forum immediately precedes the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will take place in Copenhagen in this December.
According to the Deputy Director of the Children’s Bureau under the Ministry of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs (MOLISA), Nguyen Trong An, one of the main purposes of the workshop is "to consult children."
"We, adults, want to listen to the children's ideas in order to develop plans of action that provide better care, support and protection of children from the bad impacts of climate change in Viet Nam,” he said.
Implications of climate change
The 5-6 August workshop in Hanoi, organized jointly by MOLISA and UNICEF, aimed to increase awareness of climate change among Vietnamese children – and to motivate them to take action.
A total of 126 children and young people from 21 provinces participated in the workshop, where they learned about various aspects of climate change and its implications for their lives and communities.
The young participants shared their thoughts as they worked on finding solutions to this global problem.
"They were very intense and hard working days,” Ngoc Anh reflected. “I enjoyed it a lot and also learned from other children what is happening in other regions of the country."
A 'vital role' for children
It is critically important for children and young people to be involved in finding solutions to climate change. Empowered by knowledge and information, they can be real agents of positive environmental change.
"We in UNICEF believe that children have a vital role to play and should be empowered to act," said UNICEF Deputy Representative in Viet Nam Jean Dupraz, addressing the youth workshop.
"We hope to see all of you become active Climate Change Ambassadors in your communities, your homes, your schools, your neighbourhoods," added Mr. Dupraz, "in order to generate more interest and action among your peers and adults."
At the end of the workshop, participants agreed on a set of proposed actions to tackle climate change. The recommendations were collected in a document, entitled 'Children’s Declaration about Climate Change in Viet Nam', which will be presented to the official Vietnamese delegation attending the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
The next four months leading up to the Copenhagen Forum will be a busy period for Ngoc Anh and the four other youth team members from Viet Nam. They will attend meetings with relevant government ministries to develop a collaboration plan and carry out many activities to raise public awareness of climate change.
Ngoc Anh hopes to be a strong voice for Vietnamese children. "I would like to bring all the messages that we agreed to at this workshop to Copenhagen, and present the situation and expectations of children in Viet Nam," she said.
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