UNICEF is committed to doing all it can to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in partnership with governments, civil society, business, academia and the United Nations family – and especially children and young people.
HA NOI, Viet Nam, 21 June 2012 – This week, as Brazil hosts the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20, UNICEF is working to ensure children are at the centre of the sustainable development agenda.
VIDEO: In central Viet Nam, six young people report on climate change-induced challenges faced by their communities.
“Everyone should feel they have a responsibility when it comes to climate change, and the first step we should take is to save energy,” 15-year-old Vo Giang Ha said proudly. “Children and young people are the most vulnerable to climate change, but they are also agents of change and can become part of the solution,” he added.
He is one of a group of six young people, aged 13-17, who took part in at a workshop in the coastal province of Quang Bing from 18 to 20 May. The three-day training was supported by UNICEF, in partnership with Viet Nam’s Youth Union – one of the country's largest mass organizations, with funding from Norway.
At the workshop, participants planned, scripted and filmed a six-minute video about a fishing community in the province where homes and a school were washed away by more frequent and devastating storms. The film not only focuses on climate change-induced challenges but also highlights ways communities and children can be part of the solution.
During a three-day workshop in the coastal province of Quang Bing, Viet Nam, six young people created a film about climate change.
A difficult legacy for Viet Nam’s next generation
According to one risk management company, Viet Nam ranks 13th of 170 countries deemed vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and is considered to be at ‘extreme risk’ due to its high level of poverty, dense population, exposure to climate-related events, and reliance on flood- and drought-prone agricultural land. In addition, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified the Mekong Delta as one of three ‘extreme’ global hotspots in terms of potential population displacement resulting from mean sea level rise. By 2050, as many as 1 million people in the Mekong Delta will be at risk of displacement.
According to one government climate change scenario, the average annual temperature may rise over 2 degrees Celsius by 2100. By 2100, it has been estimated the number of heat waves will double, the total annual rainfall will increase, and the probability of extreme rainfall events and flooding will also increase.
In Viet Nam, as in other developing countries, children are among those hit the hardest by the emerging impacts of climate change, although they have the least responsibility for its causes.
“As children, we have nothing to do with global warming, yet this is what we inherit from our parents and grand-parents,” said 15-year-old Hoang Mai Trinh at the workshop in Quang Binh Province, Viet Nam.
“That’s not fair! As children, we have nothing to do with global warming, yet this is what we inherit from our parents and grandparents,” said 15-year-old Hoang Mai Trinh at the workshop. “Young people are the next generation. They are exposed to new concepts and trends, they can definitely come up with new ideas to cope with issues of their times. They should be listened to as much as adults when it comes to climate change!”
Agents of change
In 2011, a series of tropical storms and typhoons filled the Mekong River to record levels, causing widespread flooding and illustrating the vulnerability of Viet Nam to natural disasters.
“The Mekong Delta floods cost 89 lives, 75 of which were children. In other words, those who have least contributed to climate change are suffering most from its consequences. Since almost one in three people in Viet Nam are children younger than 18, this is a population group to be reckoned with,” said UNICEF Representative in Viet Nam Lotta Sylwander.
“Yet Viet Nam’s children and young people have knowledge on global issues threatening our planet. They are ready to bring about social change,” Ms. Sylwander continued. “As world leaders in the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development gather this week to discuss the future of our planet, they should include young people in these discussions and ensure they are part of the response to climate change.”
The film, by young people from Viet Nam’s Quang Binh Province, tells the story of a fishing community where homes and a school were washed away by devastating storms.
During filming, the young people met with communities directly impacted by climate change-induced natural disasters. They interviewed fishermen in the commune of Nhan Trach as well as Quang Binh’s Committee for Disaster and Storm Control, whose role is to look at disaster preparedness and ensure the availability of early warning systems. They also talked to workers at a dyke construction site meant to protect the village from future storms and to young people involved in a reforestation project, which is one of the most effective forms of coastal protection.
“We don’t think the government is listening enough to young people. They should do more of it. We hope, through the video, our voices will be heard by our leaders. We also hope this film will contribute to raising awareness of climate change in Viet Nam and let everyone know they can take action to reduce the impact it will have on our lives,” said Hoang Mai Trinh.