The UK will host the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 1–12 November 2021. This will be the largest international climate change summit the UK has hosted, bringing together more than 30,000 delegates – including heads of States, climate experts and campaigners – to agree on coordinated action to tackle climate change. 

Ahead of and beyond COP26, the British Council is launching an innovative programme of activities and engagements to bring together people – especially the young – from across the world. We are working with partners in the UK and worldwide to support the success and legacy of COP26 by using our global network to create opportunities for cooperation, dialogue and action in arts, education and science which address the shared challenge of climate change. Rivers of Life is a project that British Council in Viet Nam is delivering in the Mekong Delta.

Viet Nam is vulnerable to the impacts of planetary issues (air pollution, rising sea levels, plastic waste), and is making mitigation efforts through the realisation of a greener economy. In the recent British Council’s Next Generation Report, Vietnamese young people aged 16 to 30 identified clean water and sanitation, clean energy, climate actions and adequate living conditions among their top priorities. To underline this stance, more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of respondents confirmed they would proactively contribute to Viet Nam’s future development through taking environmental actions. 

With this in mind, Rivers of Life will provide a platform for a joined-up youth-focused activity targeting the south of the country given the increasing severity of climate impacts there. The two main rivers creating the largest river basins in Viet Nam, the Hong and the Mekong, are home to 40 million people and face issues regarding flow changes, more severe flooding, increasing pollution and salinity.

The project will use an integrated approach of education, arts and science to target high school students (aged 16-19) in Dong Thap province through which the Mekong River flows. Students will work in teams to undertake their own research about different aspects of their local river.  They will be trained, supported and guided by a network of 25 youth leaders, who are Active Citizen facilitators, scientists and artists from existing British Council programmes, such as Newton Fund research projects, the Higher Education Partnership programme and Cultural and Creative Hubs.  This approach will enable us to work across disciplines, focusing on climate change impacts in the Mekong Delta, whilst providing opportunities to digitally engage remote and disadvantaged areas in the northern, central and southern regions of Viet Nam. 

Expected outcomes

  • Young people to better understand the emerging issues relating to four key areas of COP26, especially the impact of climate change on their lives and communities.
  • Young people in Viet Nam have an increased sense of urgency about responses to climate challenges.
  • Young people have the opportunity to enhance their skills and behaviours in being able to think critically and respond creatively and digitally.  
  • Underline the UK’s reputation as a global pioneer and enabler of joint responses to climate challenges.
  • Further strengthen the reputation of the British Council as the UK’s cultural relations organisation providing opportunities for greater engagement across the Arts, English and education.

Work and timeline

Timeline 2021 Activities


  • Appointment of joint delivering partner
  • Recruitment of facilitators, scientists, artists and youth leaders


  • 1st policy dialogue on climate change and impact on the Mekong River
  • Bootcamp and site visit to the Mekong River
  • Two online mentoring sessions for youth leaders to develop their Social Action Projects (SAPs)
  • Monthly online mentoring sessions for youth leaders to develop their SAPs
  • Submission of SAPs and artwork by youth leaders
  • Online campaign to vote for the best artwork
  • (Regional) policy dialogue ‘Our Climate Connects Us’ with governmental and local policy makers/leaders, British Embassy, regional countries on the Mekong River (Cambodia and Laos PDRs)
  • Exhibition of Rivers of Life artwork and announcement of winning artwork
  • Reflections and evaluation of the project


Gam Tran, Senior Programme Manager, gam.tran@britishcouncil.org.vn        

Phi Phan, Programme Manager, phi.phan@britishcouncil.org.vn