Press Release

Lao youth taking part in Me My Body My Planet My Future campaign on climate change

29 December 2019

Dec 29, 2019, Vientiane—Hundreds of young people gathered at the campus of the National University of Laos to take part in cleaning up the campus and interactive sessions on solid waste management and reduction of single-use plastics. 

This event was part of the “Me, My Body, My Planet, My Future” campaign that UNFPA launched earlier this year with support from the Ministry of Health and partners from media and the private sector. The ongoing campaign aims to encourage and engage youth to take action on a range of issues affecting them, including climate change. 

With support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Volunteers (UNV), the youth-led group Zero Waste Laos facilitated an interactive learning afternoon with sessions on what young people can do to reduce carbon emission and to make the planet sustainable for the future generations. The Vientiane City Office of Management Services was invited to the event and provided an update on the measures the government has taken to improve waste management.

Ms. Souksaveuy Keotiamchanh, Founder of Zero Waste Laos said: “The low level of awareness of solid waste management and high level of plastics use is a huge issue in Lao PDR. Collective actions are needed urgent and young people can play a crucial role to make our country cleaner, safer and sustainable.” Since the founding of Zero Waste Laos, they have mobilized hundreds of volunteers to avoid the use of plastics and reduce solid waste. While engaging young people in awareness-raising, clean-up activities and conducting surveys on possible waste management solutions, the youth-led group also advocates for more support from the government and other stakeholders to do their part in addressing climate change challenges.

 “Today’s event will showcase what young people can do to make our planet healthy and sustainable. As change agents, your small actions today will lead to long-lasting change for the future,” said Mr. Victor Valdivieso, UNFPA Deputy Representative in Lao PDR. He encouraged the young volunteers to share messages on social media so that they can help to raise awareness and inspire actions from other young people throughout the country.

 

Mr. Alberto Cuomo, UN Volunteers programme officer in Lao PDR, expressed appreciation to the participants for their contribution to essential development issues including climate change. He stressed that youth – through volunteering, civic engagement, and action – has a crucial role to play in achieving sustainable development goals. “Volunteerism expands the space for youth’s involvement in peace and development, and helps to nurture leadership skills of young people,” said Mr. Alberto Cuomo. 

On the path of graduating from least developed country status, Laos is achieving fast economic growth with an average growth rate above 6 per cent, the national government has been paying more attention to the pursuit of green economy and address climate challenges.

Lao PDR has a young population structure, with nearly 60% are under the age of 25 years. They stand central to the 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs), a vision for the people, the planet and our common prosperity by 2030. At the individual level, young people in Laos have the power to lead the transformation towards a low-carbon and resilient climate future.  Through today’s event, participants have proposed a series of actions that individuals can go to reduce carbon emission, for instance, consuming less single-use plastics, recycling before disposing of solid waste, using public transportation, etc. More importantly, young people can help influence others by spreading the message.