MOET, UNESCO, and Samsung ESD Initiative: community-level responses to climate change

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© UNESCO

Ha Noi, 19 June 2014 – With over 70 per cent of its population at risk of natural disasters, Viet Nam is one of the countries most affected by the impacts of climate change. The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), UNESCO and Samsung Education for Sustainable Development Initiative in Viet Nam is a two-year initiative making significant advances in strengthening the education system and local community responses to the challenges of climate change, disasters and biodiversity loss in Viet Nam.

Doang Minh Huong, a teacher at Huong Vinh Primary School with 27 years of experience, stated that as a result of the ESD Initiative “our community has become more sustainable, safe and clean, and the increasing awareness has taught us how to cope with the environmental challenges of the future in a changing world.”

As UNESCO’s largest country-level Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) intervention, the Initiative has made significant progress in creating an enabling environment for ESD through awareness raising of parents, teachers, community members, local authorities and media and linking all of these to school and community activities.

Nguyen Quang Vong, a motorcycle mechanic whose daughters study the second and fourth grade at Thanh Toan Primary School, stated that since the Initiative began he can see a clear difference between his community and the next: that it is greener, cleaner, and more aware of these important issues. When asked about changes in his own household, Vong said laughingly, “My daughters tell me every day about actions to reduce the family’s ecological footprint: they even have me turn the brightness on the television down in the evenings to save electricity!”

In the coming months, the Initiative will launch further activities to build upon these successes, including the piloting of e-learning teacher training courses which will reinforce and mainstream themes of climate change adaptation and mitigation, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity conservation and ESD inside and outside of the classroom.

Nguyen Don Nghia, an electrician with a daughter in the second grade at Huong Vinh Primary School, said that since the Initiative was launched he has also seen a clear change in the community, with community members understanding the importance of taking actions such as planting trees, recycling, and better managing household waste. He hopes that all Vietnamese youth will be given an opportunity to raise their awareness on these issues as he proclaimed, “every young adult, not just my own daughter will be able to solve the problems of climate change and biodiversity degradation.”

The Initiative began its actions in five primary schools in coastal Thua Thien-Hue Province; a region hit hard by the adverse effects of climate change and disasters and will serve as reference for further national implementation and international replication.