Denmark Support Vietnamese Innovators When They Challenge Climate Change

Recently Vietnam Innovation Day themed “Climate Change” opened its doors to reveal great creativity from all corners Vietnamese society in the battle against climate change. 

Since its launch in 2003, Denmark has supported the Vietnam Innovation Day, which is an annual event aiming to identify, share, exchange and directly support small, bottom-up, innovative development proposals delivering replicable results.  The theme has varied from year to year, ranging from “Life Safety” in 2003, over “Disadvantaged Children and Youth” in 2006 to “Corruption” in 2009.

This year’s theme, “Climate Change”, was identified based on an assessment of issues of public interest, priorities on the government agenda and inputs from the donor community, and it addresses a problem in obvious need of innovative proposals. As Danish Ambassador Peter Lysholt Hansen stressed at the opening ceremony, climate change is already a harsh reality in Vietnam, which is among the five most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change. Further, he noted the importance of climate change being dealt with, with the participation of not only the Government and donors, but also individual members of society. Country Director of the World Bank in Vietnam Victoria Kwakwa agreed, saying that “the solution will not come from scientists, but from the people”.

The people of Vietnam certainly took on the challenge at Vietnam Innovation Day 2010. Since the launch in January 2010, a record breaking 262 proposals had been submitted, and more than 60 were so promising that they had been selected for the final exhibition round on May 5th and 6th.

The exhibition site was thus swarming with innovators of all sorts: men and women, old and young, NGOs, universities and single individuals, all explaining their project enthusiastically in front of their colourful informative booths. There were youth volunteers from SJ Vietnam handknitting acrylic sponges allowing for dishwashing without soap, children reading cartoons about the carbon footprint following White Stork and playing the “Turn off the light” game, next to more regular projects on biogas collection at small pig-farms in the Mekong Delta.   

It was a tough choice for the 32 jurors from the Government, the donor community, research institutions, civil society and the media, but in the end, 30 projects were chosen as winners based on five criteria: contribution to addressing the issue of climate change, innovation and learning, feasibility, sustainability, reliability and participation and ownership. Each of the winning applicants received a grant of up to US$15,000 to test and implement their projects.

As for the rest of the applicants, they were assured that their contribution too had ensured that Vietnam Innovation Day reflected the willingness of civil society and local communities to partner with the Government in finding solutions to the threat of climate change – and in that sense, all were winners.

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