For the past three years, IUCN Vietnam and Holcim Vietnam Limited (HVL) have organized a Summer Campaign, with a different theme each year: Waste Management and Environment Protection in 2009, Water Sanitation, Human Health and Effective Water Consumption in 2010, and Adaptation to Climate Change in 2011. This year’s campaign was launched in Long Thoi Commune, Nha Be District, HCMC on June 27, 2011. This was followed by events in other sites where HVL has plants: in Phu My Town, Tan Thanh District, Ba Ria-Vung Tau (28/6), in Kien Luong District in Kien Giang (29/6), and in Thanh My Loi, District 2, HCMC (30/6).
This year’s Summer Campaign launch event attracted 700 people. After a pledge by local government officials to protect the environment, participants picked up litter, cleared drains, and plante trees. An essay writing competition on Adaptation to Climate Change was organzied for 1,000 secondary school students. Of the 40 shortlisted essays, eight winners were selected at the launch. First prize, worth 1,000,000 VND, went to Ms. Nguyen Thi Khanh Hao of Hai Ba Trung Secondary School in Nha Be; second prize went to Ms. Do Thi Vy from Ba Hon High School in Kien Luong; and third prize went to Ms. Ly Thi Thanh Thao of Le Van Huu Secondary School in Nha.
“We should carry out positive actions to protect the environment: throw trash in the dust bin, keep public areas clean, and encourage everybody to protect the environment. Last week, on May 19, students at my school along with officials from the district planted trees in Nha Be. Looking at the green of the leaves, the growing young buds, I felt as if my wish was slowly becoming true. This is a really meaningful activity that helped current generations become more aware of environment protection, our green planet, the Earth.” excerpt from Ms. Nguyen Thi Khanh Hao’s essay. (Click HERE to read the whole of Ms. Hao’s winning essay.)
As part of this year’s Summer Campaign, local government officials were trained in climate change adaptation strategies and environmental groups led by local the Youth Union was set up. These groups are pioneers in local environmental action such as planting trees, collecting garbage, clearing thickets, drains, and canals.
“I have helped organize Summer Campaign for the past three years. Through these campaigns, I’ve realized that this is a positive activity as it helped raise awarness and provide local people with information on how to protect the environment. If the government does not put into place strict rules and if it doesn’t collaborate with global environment networks and NGOs, in the near future we will have to pay a high price for environment pollution,” said Tran Dinh Phuoc, Vice-Chairman of Phu My CPC, Tan Thanh District, Ba Ria-Vung Tau.
“We have fined just one or two households 50,000-100,000 VND for littering. But even after being fined, these people continued to litter, as other people do,” said Mrs. Do Thi Hue from Tan Thanh Market, Tan Thanh District, Ba Ria-Vung Tau.
Similar feelings were expressed by Mr. Phuoc and Mrs. Hue who said that if goverment issues strict rules and explains that environmental protection is their responsibility and in their best interest, the Summer Campaign will had greater positive impact on the ground.
The Summer Campaign is part of a 4-year agreement (2009-2012) between HVL and IUCN Vietnam that aims to build support of local communities for environment protection and biodiversity consevation in Kien Giang. As well as the Summer Campaign, IUCN and HVL are collaborating to protect the last remaining karst limestone hills in Kien Luong District.