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Sep 28, 2021 / 20:31

Two Vietnamese delegates join Youth4Climate in Italy

The engagement of young people is expected to contribute to the adoption of more ambitious plans on global climate adaptation.

Hoang Ngoc Xuan Mai, 19, and Ly Phuong Thanh, 21, are two representatives of Vietnam joining some 400 young people around the world to elaborate concrete proposals, contributing to the negotiation process of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).

The two Vietnamese delegates are participating in the preparatory session Pre-COP26 titled “Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition” (Y4C event) taking place in Milan from September 28 to October 2, 2021.

 Italian Ambassador to Vietnam Antonio Alessandro. Photos: Embassy of Italy in Hanoi

The engagement of young people to the COP26 to be held in Italy and the UK from now until mid-November is expected to leave an impact on the global climate campaign in the future, Italian Ambassador to Vietnam Antonio Alessandro said on the occasion of the ongoing Y4C event that is hosted at the Milano Convention Center (MiCO), the largest convention center in Europe.

“We believe that it is crucial to promote the engagement of the young generations in the decision-making process leading to COP26 because what is going to be decided in Glasgow will have a huge impact on their lives tomorrow,” said Ambassador Antonio Alessandro.

Y4C event is designed to provide young delegates with an unprecedented opportunity to put forward ideas and concrete proposals on some of the most pressing issues on the climate agenda.

The first two days will be dedicated to working groups, while the last one will feature a discussion among young delegates and ministers attending Pre-COP26.

The engagement of young people will contribute a lot to the discussion and adoption of more ambitious measures by the world leaders when they meet in Glasgow on November 1-12 for COP26 to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees.

Xuan Mai had the opportunity to present the Special Report Youth for Climate Action in Vietnam to COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma during his visit to Hanoi in May. Meanwhile, Phuong Thanh, as head of the Vietnamese delegation at the ASEAN – Korea Youth Summit, presented and called for action against water pollution in the Mekong River region.

Some 400 world young leaders gather for Youth4Climate in Milan, Italy on Sept 28-Oct 2, 2021.   

Start with an open mind

Talking with The Hanoi Times before leaving for the world event, Mai and Thanh shared their journeys working with climate issues and their expressions on the global agenda that they will present.

Mai, a student of Harvard University, US, said that many young people in Vietnam are concerned about climate change issues and negative effects in some ways, such as the plastic straw issue.

She believed that communication campaigns play an important role in improving people’s awareness of climate change. Over the past time, many programs have been launched on a large scale, including one on climate change knowledge initiated by UNDP Vietnam, enabling young people to access information easily.

Mai said she has been interested in this matter for a long time. “In late 2017 and early 2018 when I was in high school, I joined the school’s press club. Since then, I got to know about climate change and how lives of people in other countries are jeopardized by climate change and what they could do to mitigate damage,” Mai recalled. Taking part in a series of activities, interviewing people in different countries, working with climate activists, getting in touch with youth people, and maintaining networking have offered enrichment in the matter and prompted her to contribute to the common drive.

Thanh, a student from the School of Business International University (IU) – Vietnam National University HCMC, said that climate change is one of her long-time concerns.

“When I was small, I was taught to sort out waste. The daily habits have nurtured my love for nature. It helps me realize the importance of the nature and environment protection as well threats posed by climate change,” she shared with The Hanoi Times. “From my first year in university, I had a chance to join a contest and won the competition thanks to that years-long journey.”

Thanh said experiences gained over the past years will help her grasp bigger opportunities and enable her to disseminate the climate issues to the public.

“I will bring along my ideas on equitable access to education, global citizen, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as communication plans to raise people’s interests,” she said.

 Hoang Ngoc Xuan Mai (L) and Ly Phuong Thanh.

Multilateral support

To promote the engagement of the young generations in decision-making processes, the Embassy of Italy in Hanoi in partnership with UNDP Vietnam, and Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) on Sept 22 held an online talk with the two girls.

The talk offered an opportunity for young Vietnamese who are interested in environmental issues to interact with the two delegates before they left for the Conference in Milan. It was truly an occasion to discuss youth engagement and empowerment for climate action, Thanh and Mai’s contribution to the conference in Milan, and what they expect to bring back to Vietnam from this experience.

Speaking at the event, Dao Xuan Lai, Assistant Resident Representative, Head of Climate Change and Environment Unit, UNDP Vietnam stated UNDP’s commitment to accelerate opportunities for youth to frame climate policies and step up climate action.

“We found a very dynamic, intense work by young people in Vietnam on climate change issues. This positive movement is led by some organizations, such as HCM communist youth union, a very active organ in this issue,” Ambassador Antonio Alessandro said in responding to a question raised by The Hanoi Times on the role of the Embassy in promoting the engagement of Vietnam’s stakeholders in common efforts against climate change.

“Italy provided some inputs, additional instruments, and suggestions to channel properly this lively youth engagement to a proper report, together with other partners like UNDP or MoNRE,” he added. The outcome is a special paper on youth action in Vietnam against climate change, which Mai had a chance to present to the appointed president of COP 26 – Alok Sharma, during his visit to Hanoi a few months ago.

In broader support of this drive, the embassy has extended its assistance to climate issues in the Mekong Delta “since it’s an important concern” as stated by Ambassador Antonio Alessandro.

“Recently we run a webinar on the Future of Water Civilizations, on the occasion of 1,600 years of Venice, to talk about how water civilizations like Venice Lagoon and the Mekong Delta are very much threatened by climate change,” he emphasized.

In the past few months, Mai and Thanh have been involved in several preparation activities with the UK Embassy, MoNRE, and UNDP Vietnam.

Given the importance of the mission, both Mai and Thanh expect to gain this opportunity to speak out to protect the earth for the sake of people around the globe.