By Trang Thuc Van, Hoa Hoc Tro*
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam – In keeping with the ‘go green’ movement popular among young people the world over – and in line with shaping a ‘cohesive and responsive’ ASEAN as the regional grouping in 2020 – Viet Nam is zeroing in on clearing he shared problem of marine debris.
This national and ASEAN priority offers you great opportunities to acquire not only meaningful experiences but make useful contributions to this joint effort through your extracurricular activities.
ASEAN CORALRANGER PROJECT
If you’re a lover of marine creatures or want to learn more about the amazing ocean, this is the place for you! Although Southeast Asian coral reefs have the highest levels of biodiversity among the world’s marine ecosystems, they are also under significant threat from climate change impacts, unplanned coastal development, destructive fishing practices and chemical pollution. But this doesn’t mean that there is nothing about the situation. For example, the young environmentalists in the ASEAN Coralranger Project do coral transplanting to increase the number of healthy coral systems in Southeast Asia and address marine pollution at the same time.
Many of the ASEAN Coralranger Project’s workshops are organized to raise awareness about marine life through interactive methods: Participants get to meet the experts or young environmental activists to discuss issues. At the same time, it organizes regular Clean-up Days to address marine debris. The project’s Coral Camp attracts more than 5,000 applicants competing for slots of just 50 participants. At these camps, students learn how to plan a marine environmental protection project and moreover, the best ideas get financial support to start them up.
“Fieldwork and sharing sessions on the role of young people in protecting the sea are in English,” explained Hieu Nguyen of the ASEAN Coralranger Project. “The camp not only provides specialized knowledge, but also wants young people to learn and practice speaking foreign languages , in order to enable Vietnam’s young generation to more easily go global. After all, environmental problems cannot be solved in a small local group and requires the cooperation of many communities at the international level. Speaking fluent English is (therefore) a tool to increase effectiveness.”
Tegister to volunteer at https://www.facebook.com/ASEANcoralrangerproject/
Trash is one of the most visible, and pressing, issues related to the marine debris problem in Vietnam and in ASEAN countries. Therefore, “trash” is also the main focus of most of Saigon Compass’ activities.
Founded in 2018 as a social enterprise that coordinates and supports programs on education and the environment, Saigon Compass’ mission is based on the concept of sharing social responsibility, collaborating on more than 50 community connection events with schools, non-governmental organizations, non-profit organizations, community organizations, and local agencies.
To date, Saigon Compass has reached over 20,000 people offline and has a community of more than 30,000 active members online, as well as more than 1,000 volunteers, collaborators, and partners in Vietnam. It has organized a network of more than 10,000 volunteers to collect garbage in local areas as part of a responsible tourism initiative. Saigon Compass has long-term support from over 30 organizations and projects on education and environment. It houses a library on nature and the environment that is expected to have received more than 1,000 visits in 2019, in a space where educational activities on waste and the environment in the Mekong region are also held.
In 2019, Saigon Compass organized and coordinated green activities in Ho Chi Minh City and other areas such as Ninh Thuan, Quang Ngai. Examples are ‘Green Living Festival 2019’, a training workshop on plastic waste in Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward in District 1, HCMC, Earth Hour, and a series of activities around awareness of plastic waste in Ly Son Island, Vinh Hy Island and Con Dao. “I understand that the key factor in all issues is education,” said Ta Thuy Trang, founder of Saigon Compass.
‘Trash Portraits: The Untold Stories’ is a special program that Saigon Compass did in collaboration with many other environmental groups. The social enterprise believes that segregating waste at the source can help minimize water pollution, especially marine debris. ‘Trash Portraits’ was launched to raise social awareness, including in social media, about solid waste pollution in the city. Saigon Compass’ long-term goal is to become a forum for discussion and improvement of solid waste issues through the use of the media. Beyond that, it hopes that positive results can be replicated elsewhere in the ASEAN region in the future.
You can register to volunteer at: https://www.facebook.com/pg/saigoncompass
KEEP VIETNAM CLEAN AND GREEN
The goal of Vietnam Sach va Xanh or Keep Vietnam Clean & Green (KVCG), is to raise awareness about the litter and trash problem in Vietnam. The organization targets littering, as it finds this the most basic of environmental issues that people need to be educated about. Vietnam Sach va Xanh currently has three main projects: Community Clean-ups, Earth Day and the Green Turtle Army.
Community Clean-ups are an effective way to raise awareness. Viet Nam Sach va Xanh started its second community clean-up program on Phu Quoc island on April
Viet Nam Sach va Xanh
Viet Nam Sach va Xanh
Viet Nam Sach va Xanh
2015. Since then, it has organized clean-ups in Hanoi, HCMC, Hoi An, Hue and Can Tho and has engaged over 50 organizations to join these. Its annual activities on Earth Day, held each April 22, are aimed toward a “Vietnam without garbage”. Viet Nam Sach va Xanh also created the mascots in what it calls the Green Turtle Army, as part of a campaign to educate children on littering, and to instill environmental consciousness in them at a young age.
The organization’s biggest success lies in spreading the spirit of marine protection to young Vietnamese, for which it has received positive feedback not only from the media but from the community.
Volunteers can register at: https://www.facebook.com/pg/vnsvx
These organizations offer you not only many valuable experiences, but great opportunities to do amazing extracurricular activities – and make a big difference!
*(This article was produced in collaboration with the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ media program and its Cambodia-Lao PDR-Myanmar-Vietnam (CLMV) Integration Series.)
(END/Reporting ASEAN/Ed-Johanna Son)