Lao Children and Youth Advocate for Their Right to Healthy Planet

Lao Children and Youth Advocate for Their Right to a Healthy Planet: Visionaries

One month after the launch of the It Starts With Me campaign during International Children’s Day on 1 June, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and World Vision International – Laos organized the second edition of “Visionaries”, a platform dedicated to sharing the voices of Lao children and youth on 29 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 the country’s youth and children will bear the brunt of actions that are out of their control as they don’t have the power to decide for their future.

World Vision, WWF-Laos, and national stakeholders organized 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.

Lao Children and Youth Advocate for Their Right to a Healthy Planet: Visionaries
A host of young people speaking at the event

After a lively performance delivered by the children from the rural communities of Laos supported by World Vision, 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, these 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.

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 Laos, Ms. Niharika Singh from UNICEF, Ms. Souksaveuy Keotiamchanh from Zero Waste Laos and Mr. Chris Hallam, Conservation Director, WWF-Laos on our commitments to fulfill children’s rights to a healthy planet.

The 8-year-old Sourinhadeth also directly engaged as a panelist to represent the children of Laos and share what a good future would look like for him.

The event ended on a high note, with the award ceremony for the It Starts With Me drawing contest. The six best young artists traveled to Vientiane for the first time, receiving their prize and discovering the capital city of Laos for a couple of days.

Edelweiss Silan, National Director for World Vision International – Laos speaks at the event

“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 – Laos.

Lao children were, without contest, the big winners at the event. It was 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.