European Union Sparks Blue Wave in Vientiane

Three friends walking around the streets of Vientiane on 3 March for the EU's "ForOurPlanet" campaign. (Photo: The Laotian Times)

The streets of Vientiane resembled a flowing river of blue shirts on Sunday, 3 March, as more than 500 people gathered at That Luang Square to join the European Union’s (EU) “ForOurPlanet” campaign.

The event aimed to raise awareness about the triple crisis of climate change, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss and to sensitize the public on the importance of taking care of nature.

Organized by the European Union Delegation to Laos, in collaboration with Team Europe partners including France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, the event culminated a nine-day campaign spanning from 18 to 27 January. This comprehensive effort aimed to raise awareness among the Lao population about Team Europe’s efforts in combating climate change and environmental challenges, including biodiversity protection, sustainable agriculture practices, forestry, and wastewater treatment.

Vientiane residents walk for the environment on 3 March, 2024. (Photo: The Laotian Times)

As dawn broke and the city roused from slumber on Sunday morning, participants from across Vientiane Capital, comprising environmental enthusiasts, local community members, and national and international diplomats, demonstrated their commitment to advocating healthier and more eco-conscious habits.

In her opening address, Ina Marčiulionytė, the EU Ambassador to Laos, stressed the significance of collective action in effecting meaningful change.

“We are making a big change through small steps,” she remarked, conveying the spirit of the campaign.

Ina Marčiulionytė, the EU Ambassador to Laos, taking a selfie with a runner. (Photo: The Laotian Times)

The highlight of the event was the promotion of sustainable practices through a biking and walking tour, allowing participants to engage in morning exercise amidst the early breeze while advocating for environmental sustainability.

But the campaign extended beyond the city streets; it also featured an interactive quiz on Facebook in the days leading up to the gathering. The quiz tested followers’ understanding of environmental issues and incentivized participation, promoting good mobility and a healthy lifestyle.

During the event, the EU delegation hosted an award ceremony for the three winners of the EU Facebook quiz, each receiving a bike and a helmet.

Supported by the Lao Cycling Association and Vientiane Municipality, the walking and cycling tour aimed to promote sustainable living and environmental awareness through collaboration with local organizations. This initiative aligned with the broader objectives of the “ForOurPlanet” campaign, uniting European delegations worldwide to address pressing challenges posed by climate change and environmental degradation.

The escalating impacts of climate change and rapid ecosystem degradation pose a pressing need to adopt collective action. Through the “ForOurPlanet” campaign, the EU and Team Europe in Laos aim to demonstrate solidarity with the global community grappling with the nature crisis. In addition to ongoing initiatives like the campaign, Team Europe’s collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Laos through a new program aims to commit to sustainable and inclusive agriculture and forestry sectors while enhancing local livelihoods, safeguarding forests, biodiversity, and addressing climate change.