On 28 February 2019, a British Council-supported Policy Dialogue on Waste Management Solutions was held today in Hue city to wrap-up the first year of an innovative project Fostering Creativity for a World without Waste in Thua Thien Hue province. The event was an opportunity for national and international stakeholders, local and community leaders to discuss waste management in Vietnam and the United Kingdom as well as find effective solutions at school level. As a result of the three-year Coca-Cola Vietnam co-supported project, 12 social project groups initiated by high school students have been deployed and delivered positive impacts.
A range of local and international speakers attended the conference, including Mr Phan Thien Dinh, Vice Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee; Mr Nguyen Tan, Deputy Director of the Department of Education and Training in Hue; Mr Bui Tien Dung, senior specialist of Political-Students Affairs Department; Ms Jakira Khanam, Director of Society, East Asia, British Council; Legal and Public Affairs Director, Indochina Coca-Cola Beverages Vietnam Ltd.; Ms Le Tu Cam Ly and teachers, students from three high schools participating in the project.
Globally, plastic production has increased 20-fold in the last 50 years, with this alarming amount of plastic waste enough to cover the earth’s surface four times. Ms Do Van Nguyet, Director of Live & Learn for Environment and Community in Vietnam, said plastic waste often failed to breakdown and waste treatment technology was rudimentary and lacked thorough disposal processes. Burying and burning plastic waste was a serious health threat to communities, due to different toxic substances emitted from these processes.
Ms Joana Santos, Senior Consultant at Wiser Environment, UK, outlined the UK's successful waste management and treatment model that displayed a comprehensive national-level strategy for waste management. It had raised people’s awareness in residential areas to cooperate with authorities, work with organisations specialising in waste management, private businesses and initiatives through educational programmes at schools and community outreach. These national-level strategies will need to be implemented extensively to local governments at all levels in Vietnam. She also stressed the need for recycling from raw materials to design, production and consumption.
Evaluating the project’s outcomes, Mr Dinh praised the results and implementation of many activities in line with the province’s and city’s development agenda in 2019. With efforts from the province, departments of Culture, Sports and Tourism and of Natural Resources and Environment to implement environmental projects to also create economic value, such as the project “Huế Sáng - Xanh – Sạch” (“Hue Bright – Green – Clean”) and the “Chủ nhật Xanh – 60 phút đẹp nhà sạch ngõ” (“Green Sunday – 60 minutes to clean your house and neighbouring area”). The project “Fostering creativity for a World without Waste” at schools was a good example of coordination between local departments managing and raising awareness on waste management.
Ms. Le Tu Cam Ly said the project was only a first step and needed to be cascaded with involvement from local authorities, besides the roles of partners and sponsors. In the conference, all participants agreed environmental projects, especially on waste management, needed strong local government support to achieve sustainability objectives.
Through the project “Fostering Creativity for a World without Waste”, teachers and students were equipped with knowledge and skills on waste management and were inspired to be active citizens to deliver meaningful changes in communities towards sustainable development.
Ho Huu Tuong, a student from Quoc Hoc Hue high school, spoke on behalf of 12 environmental social project groups from three high schools - Quoc Hoc Hue, Cao Thang and Huong Thuy: “Xà phòng Xanh (Green Soap) is not only a environmental project that produces safe and environmentally-friendly soaps, but through it we hope to change consumers’ awareness.”
He said more than 100 orders from dozens of customers were made and subsequently received positive comments. “That is also our mission, to spread the active citizens’ spirit in our community and bring positive changes among people. Thanks to our project and 11 other social projects presenting here today, we have partly understood the actual environmental situation in our province,” he shared. “Community values had been strongly developed by all projects, such as Babylon Hanging Garden, The Shark, Eco Garden, Polymer Bricks and the Green Soap project from Cao Thang high school. Each project has its own values and specific missions, but they all affirm one key value: to build a creative and dynamic image of Thua Thien Hue youth, to always have interesting ideas to build a more beautiful and cleaner city,” Tuong emphasised.
Mr Bui Tien Dung, representative of the Ministry of Education and Training, said: “For entrepreneurship education, the core mission is to discover talents and encourage the creative spirit of students. We appreciate this pilot project of the British Council, Coca-Cola and partners. From capacity and active citizen-building for teachers, the programme has been cascaded to students in schools. From the success of this project, I hope Thua Thien-Hue’s Department of Education and Training will maintain and expand it to other provinces to spread the spirit of active citizens and promote students’ creativity.”