IUCN Viet Nam has been building its communications program over the past several years by launching a web site, issuing increasing numbers of reports and information sheets, and reaching out to the media and other partners in conservation. I was honored to become a part of that process when I joined the IUCN VN office as a communications officer with funding from the Princeton in Asia program in the United States.
I also learned a fair deal about IUCN’s history in Viet Nam by writing a report detailing all of the country office’s main achievements under a 4-year country support agreement with the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency (Sida). Under that agreement, IUCN VN launched new programs in Climate Change and Business and Biodiversity, as well as embarked on a number of new initiatives under existing programs. It was very interesting for me to learn about the way IUCN has been balancing the need for conservation with the equally pressing need for poverty reduction in a rapidly developing country like Viet Nam.
My most rewarding moments came when I was able to go out to our project sites and see the way our conservation work takes shape in the field. When our marine program manager needed someone to represent IUCN at a school children’s contest, I was sent to Quang Tri, one of central Viet Nam’s coastal provinces.
IUCN VN has designed an extracurricular curriculum for middle school students in communities near important sea turtle nesting grounds. The lessons teach them the threats to sea turtles in Viet Nam and the importance of conserving them and their habitats.
Watching the students perform the skits, show the art and recite the poems that they created to compete in the contest demonstrating their knowledge that culminates the set of lessons, I felt confident that they had truly absorbed a new respect for marine life and would bring the lessons home to their friends and families.