Visionaries #2

Visionaries #2: Lao children and youth advocate for their right to a healthy planet

One month after the launch of the It Starts With Me campaign during International Children’s Day on the 1st of June, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and World Vision International – Lao PDR organised the second edition of “Visionaries”, a platform dedicated to sharing the voices of Lao children and youth on the 29th June, at the Major Cineplex, Vientiane Center.

In a fast-changing environment for the Lao population, children and youth often face challenges in expressing their concerns on climate change and lack exposure to share their solutions. This creates an unfair situation for them, as they will bear the brunt of actions that are out of their control and don’t have the power to decide for their own future. World Vision, WWF-Laos and national stakeholders organised the second edition of Visionaries to counter these issues and offer Lao children and youth a space to share their stories and engage with decision-makers.

After a lively performance delivered by the children supported by World Vision in the rural communities of Laos, five children and youth from all over the country took the stage to share their unique stories linked to climate change. While 12-year-old Phoumchai confessed his family’s own past mistakes in burning trashes, Ms Viengsavanh, 17 years old, alerted on the impact of pollution on her health. Somchai, an 18-year-old boy from Attapeu province, warned about the depletion of natural resources, seeing the closure of the “free supermarket” that nature can no longer offer to rural communities in his province. Along with Sysavanh and Poyphailin, those five inspiring youngsters emphasized the urgency and importance of acting now, as individuals or as organizations and governments, to reduce our contribution to climate change.

Visionaries Talks

This event was part of the It Starts With Me campaign launched jointly by World Vision and WWF-Laos during International Children’s Day celebrations in June. A panel discussion featured Ms Daovinh Souphonphacdy, from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr Phonesavanh Sethanaphaixanh, from the European Union Delegation in Lao PDR, Ms Niharika Singh from UNICEF, Ms Souksaveuy Keotiamchanh from Zero Waste Laos and Mr Chris Hallam, Conservation Director, WWF-Laos on our commitments to fulfil children’s rights to a healthy planet. 8-year-old Sourinhadeth also directly engaged as a panellist to represent children of Laos and share what a good future would look like for him.

Panel discussion - Visionaries #2

The event ended on a high note, with the award ceremony for the It Starts With Me drawing contest. The six best drawers among the children supported by World Vision travelled to Vientiane for the first time, receiving their prize and discovering the capital city of Lao PDR for a couple of days.

We can do more and achieve our aspirations for a healthy environment for our children only if we work together, to continue to find real, scientific, practical and lasting solutions to climate change.

 says Edelweiss Silan, National Director for World Vision International – Lao PDR.

Lao children were, without contest, the big winners of this day. A day to remember for all the participants of this event and a promise that children's voices will count in the fight against climate change in Laos.