Empowering Youth to Deliver on the Just Energy Transition and Climate Change Education in Viet Nam

Written by Nguyen Thi Thai Hoa, UNDP

December 11, 2023

Dubai, 8 December 2023 - The Department of Climate Change (DCC)  of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized the "Empowering Youth to Deliver on the Just Energy Transition and Climate Change Education in Viet Nam” Policy Dialogue during COP28. This event focused on youth representatives sharing their progress under the Youth4Climate Initiative and highlighting recommendations and solutions contributing to Viet Nam’s climate targets inclusively.

The Youth4Climate Initiative engages Vietnamese youth, constituting 23% of the population, to build their  knowledge,understanding and capacity in taking climate action. . Recognizing their crucial roles in national climate policies, ongoing efforts aim to expedite youth-led actions and involve them meaningfully in policy-making. Funded by UNDP's Climate Promise Programme, the initiative began in 2020 to enhance the capacity of youth representatives and networks for Vietnam's climate targets. It has resulted in significant outcomes, including the Special Reports on Youth for Climate action in Viet Nam 2021 and 2022, which have been presented at COP 26 and 27, the establishment of a Youth4Climate Learning Hub, and the formation of Youth Climate Action Network (YNet Viet Nam) and a Youth4Climate Policy Working Group (YPWG) concentrating on Just Energy Transition and Climate Change Education.

Mr. Pham Van Tan, Deputy Director General of the Department of Climate Change at MONRE, emphasized Viet Nam’s strong actions and commitment to combat climate change and engage the entire political system and society, underscoring the significant role of youth in this effort.

Mr. Francesco Corvaro, the Special Envoy for Climate Change of Italy, continued by expressing their support for empowering the younger generation in climate action, highlighting the importance of collaboration and opportunities for youth to express themselves in environmental preservation.

Ms. Sangji Lee, Climate Change Policy and Programme Specialist, UNDP New York, praised the achievements of Youth4Climate Initiative in Viet Nam and emphasized that youth are already leaders today, asserting the need to amplify their voices in climate actions. Ms. Lee expressed pride in supporting the Youth Policy Working Group to ensure clear articulation of youth voices and evidence-based promotion.

Following the event's opening remarks, representatives of YPWG, Mr. Dao Manh Tri and Mr. Nguyen Son Tra, presented their initial findings on two themes: youth engagement in Climate Change Education and the involvement of youth in the Just Energy Transition process.

The YPWG conducted research on Vietnamese youth's views on the just energy transition, focusing on case studies of on-shore wind energy development in Ninh Thuan and household rooftop solar investment in urban areas in Ho Chi Minh City. The findings indicated limited access to information, especially among youth, regarding solar power in Ho Chi Minh City. In Ninh Thuan, interest in wind power, job opportunities, and communication preferences were highlighted among the youth, demonstrating confidence in the ongoing energy transition process. Based on these key findings, the Just Energy Transition Research Team proposed several policy recommendations such as promoting multi-level capacity building; improving partnership and communication between the public, private sectors and academia; developing a youth consultation mechanism; and increasing youth presence at local implementation, as well as raising public awareness via social media platforms.

Regarding climate education, feedback from 615 students across Viet Nam revealed varying policies and preparations for climate education programs among provinces. The primary sources of climate change knowledge for students were found to be the internet and social media due to their easy accessibility. However, the existing climate change education was reported to be inadequate and ineffective, with students expressing the need for more real-world experiential learning and extracurricular activities. Additionally, while students wanted to contribute to climate-related issues, they faced challenges in actively participating in policy decision-making processes due to limited awareness of their rights and a feedback environment at schools that discouraged open expression, especially among vulnerable groups. Thus, the group recommended several policy and institutional changes to strengthen Climate Change Education and encouraged more quality extracurricular activities, facilities, and teaching content on the topic.

Discussing the 2024 trajectory, Ms. Bui Hoang Thuy Vi and Ms. Nguyen Ngoc Tam Nhu, YNet representatives, stated the focus on inclusive activities for marginalized groups in media promotion and policy consulting. Mr. Dao Manh Tri and Mr. Nguyen Son Tra, on behalf of the YPWG, highlighted the need to complete the policy briefs and recommendations for the government in the near future. There were calls for expanding similar activities and research to engage more youth in policy advocacy activities.

Mr. Tran Do Bao Trung, Deputy Head of the Adaptation Division, DCC, acknowledged the importance of utilizing policy recommendations from youth and assured closer collaboration for their effective implementation, while Ms. Antonia Caldeira-Saraiva, Deputy Director for International Climate and Energy Analysis, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK, as well as Ms. Sangji Lee emphasized the importance of integrating youth recommendations into school curriculums and providing support for evidence-based policy-making, including quantitative assessments of the impact of climate actions.

The event concluded with commitments from representatives of DCC-MONRE, UK and Italy Governments, and UNDP to continue engaging actively in the just energy transition in Viet Nam and empower youth voices in the process.