Galvanizing youth engagement in Viet Nam’s digital transformation

Blog by Diana Torres, Nguyen Nhu Quynh, and Vuong Hong Ngoc, Governance and Participation Team, UNDP in Viet Nam

September 27, 2021

“Digital transformation” has been recognized globally as one of the key pillars of today’s development agenda and Viet Nam is not excluded, especially after the Prime Minister’s approval in June 2020, of the National Digital Transformation Program to 2025, with orientations towards 2030[1] with a focus on establishing a digital government, the digital economy and digital society. The program includes ambitious goals, including bringing 80% of public services to be delivered online by 2025.

With the 23,3 million young people (in 2018)[2] living in Viet Nam, equal to 24,8% of the population, it seems reasonable to think of their critical role in shaping and actively participating in this national digital transformation. However, reasonable is not always obvious as the participation of youth in governance matters in Viet Nam is still very low and even sensitive[3]. So, to explore the interest of young people as well as the buy-in of local governments, this year we decided to test an innovative angle to it. 

The “YouthDigital Citizen Challenge”, an initiative led by UNDP and Ha Noi Youth Union, was created with the dual goals to increase capacities and engagement of young people in co-creating citizen-centric solutions to online public administrative services and to support the government of Ha Noi with an innovative approach to assess and formulate an improvement of the plan of its e-government services and solutions.  The “Youth Digital Citizen Challenge 2021” encouraged young people to “design solution package, including a technology product or service, or a communication strategy to boost the quality of e-public services in Ha Noi”.

The YDCC was launched in July 2021, and after one month of the call for applications, the challenge received 444 individual applications, from which 65% were from young women. An incredible response! 80 teams were formed and after the screening process, the top 12 teams/solutions were selected for training and mentoring from 10 leading experts and 8 experienced innovation mentors. Within less than two months of competition, out of the 12 teams the top 4 teams were selected to receive seed funding and to join an intensive incubation programme aimed at finetuning their solutions focusing on: matching citizens needs with suitable public services; digital and accessible public services for people with visual impairments; and an online mechanism for receiving and handling citizens’ feedback.  For more information, please find HERE

Although, the incubation period is just about to start, there are some early lessons worth sharing for future policy interventions: 

  • The covid19 pandemic has opened new opportunities to accelerate e-government and change the way in which local governments interact with citizens, especially with young people from different backgrounds. An organic collaboration between young citizens and local governments can be harnessed to accelerate the transition towards a digital society, digital government, and digital economy by expanding the use of open data and tech tools for civic engagement.
  • Promoting youth digital civic engagement in e-governance will be essential to ensure youth inclusion and empowerment in the context of Viet Nam’s digital transformation agenda.   Closing the generational gap between public officials used to offline service provision and the young citizens who are more tech savvy and thus more inclined to engage with government authorities through online mechanisms should be part of policy priorities.
  • Youth digital civic education is important to increase awareness and meaningful participation of young people in the future of governance, including on ethical issues, information pollution, cybersecurity risks and legal frameworks related to online services. 

The lessons and results from YDCC will give us great insights on the future entry points, challenges, and opportunities to help materialize an inclusive and participatory digital government at local level, across all provinces.  UNDP is pleased to collaborate with Ha Noi Youth Union, Ha Noi Youth Palace, and the authorities of Ha Noi in this exciting project. We are looking forward to their active engagement in the incubation phase and sharing the lessons learned with other provinces.

Stay tuned and keep supporting us!


[1] Decision No. 749/QD-TTg of the Prime Minister on introducing program for national digital transformation by 2025 with orientations towards 2030

[2] Report on Vietnamese Youth in the period of 2015-2018

[3] Report on Vietnamese Youth in the period of 2015-2018