2021 Vietnam Climate Leadership Camp: Youths as Circular Agents of Change to Solve Climate Change


Tiphaine Pham, Strategic & Program Advisor of the Ida C. & Morris Falk Foundation, in collaboration with CHANGEvn

Since 2020, the Ida C. & Morris Falk Foundation (ICM) has been actively involved in supporting waste prevention with young innovators in mind. As the future leaders within their communities, supporting youths in becoming more aware, capable and active in fostering change is one of our main drivers to fund the 2021 Vietnam Climate Leadership Camp (VCLC) within our Circularity Ecosystem approach.

VCLC is an annual campaign organized by CHANGE since 2017 to provide training, support and grants to potential youth-led projects solving climate change issues, targeted at high-potential 18 to 23 year olds across Vietnam. 

Raising awareness simply is not enough. Through capacity-building programs such as VCLC, potential young innovators get to tackle climate-related community issues, noticeably in their schools and universities, through Design thinking, Circular economy principles and further prototyping support, while nourishing their soft skills to become future community leaders.

Key learnings from VCLC 2021:

  • Due to the 2021 COVID lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City, VCLC 2021 was held online for theoretical training and workshops from August to December, and offline earlier this year for the leadership and pitching bootcamp. The hybrid format provided flexibility to overcome logistical challenges that youth-focused programming would usually encounter.
  • For the first time, VCLC hosted a Circular Economy workshop with Mai Nguyen from Circular Design Vietnam, a previous grantee from the ICM Falk Foundation, and encouraged solutions to community-based climate issues with a circular lens during the bootcamp. 
  • VCLC’s participants are encouraged to participate in diverse activities like storytelling, leadership compass, community-building board game in order to identify their peers’ and their own leadership style. As a whole, building their soft skills would contribute to the holistic capacity building of future community leaders.
  • VCLC 2021 is the first camp having participation of youths from all Vietnamese regions, creating diversity in exchanging knowledge about signature climate change in each region and creating a rising national youth network for climate change activism.

How was Circularity applied to youth-led climate activism?

During the bootcamp, participants got acquainted with Circular economy principles through the use and analysis of the circular canvas. Through the Circular Canvas, teams learned to create the outline of a project model with various flows, and identify key impacts for users, their home region, and their ecosystem. In other words, they learned to apply systems thinking to their own community and design a solution that fulfills the demands of users through services/products while keeping natural resources in the model. According to Van Tinh, a member of the Go Green team, using the circular canvas helped their team recognize both positive and negative impacts of the project into both nature and community, eventually helping them ideate optimal solutions to mitigate negative impacts from climate change. Finally, the circular canvas taught participants to visualize and analyze the collaboration between key stakeholders in order to reach zero-waste and prioritize interconnected closed-loop solutions rather than just one separate solution. At the end of boot camp, 7 projects were selected to move to the incubation period with a small grant to develop additional skills, test their solutions in their community and receive additional support from mentors and the VCLC network. Amongst the 7 projects, 3 projects are circularity-related: a refill project on Vietnamese universities’ campuses, a sustainable fashion awareness project and a no-single-use-plastic, zero-waste campus project.

Students building Circular Canvas for their project during the offline camp. Source: CHANGE

The VCLC model proved itself to be an ideal program for high-potential youths to become engaged and educated about climate change mitigation, with an added layer of innovation and circularity, thanks to their hybrid training format, updated content and community-building strategy. From learning about Circular economy principles to proposing circular solutions for their community environmental problems within months, the program is proof that youths deserve innovative capacity-building programs where field practice and theory training are combined creatively. Investing and building capacity for the younger generations are keys to leverage new solutions to mitigate climate change and waste pollution from a local-centric perspective. 

At the ICM Falk Foundation, we pledge to continue developing our Circularity Ecosystem that will be inclusive of youths in Vietnam and ASEAN and give them the opportunity to push their ideas further and beyond.

The Ida C. & Morris Falk Foundation wants to empower Vietnamese students and more particularly engineering students who have great innovative ideas to step up and reach out in order to be equipped with impact business knowledge and be able to adequately address the waste and pollution challenges in their home country.

Join us in our mission to support circular entrepreneurship and innovation for a sustainable future. Reach out to us at contact@icmfalkfoundation.org if you have a solution to tackle the waste problem in ASEAN!

The Incubation Network
Da Nang, Vietnam

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