It Starts With Me - Laos

It Starts With Me: a moral duty to fulfil our Children’s Right to a Healthy Planet

The following article is a joint opinion piece by Liz Satow, Interim National Director for World Vision and Loris Palentini, Country Director for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Laos, with the support of the European Union Delegation in Laos, Zero Waste Laos and the Lao Youth Radio.

During the International Children’s Day commemoration on the 1st of June, development partners and civil society are calling for Lao citizens from all walks of society to take small, doable actions to mitigate the impact of climate change. With the launch of the It Starts With Me campaign, national stakeholders advocate for children’s right to a healthy planet.

As Laos suffered from record-high temperatures last month, we need to realize that climate change is real, and will impact the rest of our lives and those of the next generations. The heatwave we are currently experiencing is just one of the consequences of our human activity. Other consequences include changes in seasonal weather patterns with more erratic and extreme weather and a rapid, steady reduction in biodiversity with the extinction of two-thirds of our wildlife in 50 years.

While we all are immediately impacted by those changes, children are and will be the most deeply affected. Yet, their future is not in their control, it lies in the hands of adults. We see climate change as a justice issue threatening children’s rights, and as we celebrate this year’s Children’s Day, it is time to bring them to the centre, to hear their voices, their ideas and solutions to protect the future of our shared humanity on this planet.

With this spirit, civil society and development partners in Laos are launching the It Starts With Me campaign. Led by World Vision and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), this national campaign aims at raising the awareness of Lao citizens on climate change issues in order to change behaviour and bring about a better future for children, the environment and our planet.  This six-month campaign will also actively create platforms for children to express their concerns and directly engage with decision-makers.

Climate change can feel too big an issue for us as individuals to tackle. We may feel helpless and become complacent given the scope of the problem. However, there are things we can do to secure a healthy planet for our children. We owe it to them to act now. We acknowledge the recent efforts from the Government of Lao PDR to treat climate change and waste management as priorities and are supportive of this step in the right direction, as joint efforts are needed to face the challenges posed by climate change. But we, as individuals, also have a role to play in addressing these challenges: reducing our consumption of single-use plastic, planting trees, re-using our goods, and recycling what we can… small changes can make a big difference. This is why we invite all readers to join us in this movement to build a brighter future for the children of Laos and their environment.

Protecting our children and their future starts with us. Protecting nature and its resources starts with us. The child’s right to a healthy planet: It Starts With Me.   

The It Starts With Me campaign is led by World Vision International (WVI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Lao PDR, and supported by the European Union Delegation in Laos, Zero Waste Laos and the Lao Youth Radio.