Young people in Vietnam have developed an increasing awareness of climate change due to the country’s high vulnerability to its impacts. Yet, they are often excluded from the political decision-making processes and lack the necessary experience, expertise, or institutional support to implement their ideas about how to advance the energy transition.
To harness their creative potential to develop innovative low-carbon model projects and introduce them as future leaders to a low-carbon transformation of society, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Climate and Energy Project in Asia, together with Live & Learn, has kicked off their newest project: Green Youth Labs.
An online survey with 254 people aged 18 to 30 conducted in the run-up to the launch of the programme shows that although the majority of young people view energy transition as necessary (88%) and are interested in this issue (78%), fewer respondents think that they play an important role in this process (58%).
The project, funded by the German government’s International Climate Initiative (IKI), includes training programmes and field trips to support youth and young professionals in becoming "climate ambassadors" who advocate for low-carbon production and climate-friendly use of energy in their community. Titled “The story of energy - seems far yet so close” the first training showed that energy transition - a seemingly “far” and unfamiliar concept for the youth – has direct impacts on the youth and hits “close” to home. The training brought 155 participants from 25 provinces on board the just energy transition in Vietnam.
Through 10 online training sessions and field trips in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the participants gained knowledge about energy issues as well as energy transition solutions. They worked in teams throughout the training to access and analyse information and improved their critical thinking and presentation skills. The teams planned and hosted the final wrap-up session with the help of the Organization Committee. This interactive approach allowed the participants to directly apply equipped knowledge and skills and increase their ownership and build close bonds with their peers.
“I like sharing and debate sessions the most”, said Tam, a 20-year-old student from Ho Chi Minh City. “I thought energy transition was not feasible for me, but now I know it entails specific actions and solutions that everyone can do. This is also my first time engaging in a debate, and it challenged me at the outset when I had to collect the necessary information to formulate logical arguments. Thanks to that, I developed many soft skills such as teamwork, debate, and much helpful information about energy.”
Following the training, the Youth Innovation Challenge was launched, where outstanding ideas from 13 provinces and cities nationwide were presented to the Hanoi public in Energy Transition Fair and competed to receive technical and financial grants to convert their ideas into reality. The jury, consisting of energy experts, youth networks, and media, selected 10 innovative ideas that will be implemented from 2022 to 2023. From an eco-poetry contest to an algae-based wastewater treatment system using solar panels, the diversity and the scope of youth initiatives demonstrate the energy and creativity of the youth in finding the solutions to Vietnam’s energy dilemma.
Vietnam is experiencing high economic growth rates, combined with a rapidly growing energy demand. But although the expansion of renewable energies (solar, wind) is gaining momentum, fossil fuel still accounts for 43 per cent in the country’s power mix. To advance the energy transition, increased awareness and sensitization about the overall benefits of fossil-free energy and mobility concepts are necessary. In the upcoming years, FES will continue to strengthen youth initiatives and connect them with government representatives, experts, and global youth leaders.
Ngan Hoang Nguyen coordinates the Green Youth Labs project at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Vietnam Office. Her interests focus on the development of climate policy and just energy transition strategies in Southeast Asia.
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