Fifteen eager ASEAN young volunteers gathered in Battambang to learn about sustainable climate action through the game-changing "Project Green Jobs" as part of the eMpowering Youths Across ASEAN Cohort 3 on July 29 this year.
Project Green Jobs is a three-month project aimed at connecting and inspiring youths from Cambodia and ASEAN to understand green jobs and climate action better.
Organised by Impact Hub Phnom Penh, the project under the eMpowering Youths Across ASEAN Programme Cohort 3, was in partnership with ASEAN Foundation, and co-funded by Maybank Foundation and Maybank.
The initiative is focussed on developing an understanding of green jobs and climate activities. It is intended to encourage Cambodian students to look at climate action and forge a strong commitment toward increasing environmental awareness and cooperation among the ASEAN youth community.
In the initial two weeks, committed individuals from various ASEAN nations, including Cambodia, set out on a journey, which exemplified the effectiveness of youth-led initiatives in addressing climate change issues.
They also immersed themselves in the world of green jobs and investigated regional sustainability initiatives in Cambodia.
The exploration of green and social entrepreneurship ignited their passion for sustainable change and inspired innovative thinking, which aligned with the spirit of ASEAN - One Vision, One Identity, One Community.
Apart from the workshop and an 11-day field visit with Impact Hub Phnom Penh, the youths immersed themselves in an insightful workshop and hands-on learning experience with green and social entrepreneurs in Battambang province.
During this time, the youths had the opportunity to network with a wide range of forward-thinking green business owners in the neighbourhood, such as Khmer Banana Weaving, Junlen Meas, Phare Ponleu Selpak and Phum Impact Battambang.
Nia Masinta Dewi Noorazman, a youth volunteer from Singapore, said the project was an “eye-opening cultural experience” and was inspired by the ideas from local Khmer entrepreneurs.
“People here are really friendly, and they taught us many things that I have never known before. One of the big highlights is the visit to Khmer Banana Weaving, where the founder is using banana fibres to produce the final products.
“It’s a big inspiration for me to learn from these entrepreneurs advocating for reusing all the natural resources around us,” Nia shared.
The Green Jobs project provided participants with profound insights into the intricacies of sustainable business models amid compelling narratives behind the innovative ventures.
The youths said the transformative experience ignited their drive to lead positive change within their respective communities.
Four Cambodian youths collaborated with 11 international youths from the region to create four innovative project ideas that focussed on climate action and environmental issues in their countries.
The four projects, which run from mid August to late September 2023, are as follows:
Green Transformer is a project involving the up cycle of community plastic waste into products and souvenirs. It not only champions environmental sustainability but also provides an avenue for local individuals to earn a living by recycling and subsequently selling these products to tourists.
Greenovators, the multifaceted project comprises several workshops, comprising Green Jobs Creation and Workforce Development, Green Startups and Incubation Programmes, and Sustainable Agriculture and Food. In addition, the Greenovators offer self-financed field visits to eco-friendly and socially-conscious entrepreneurs in Singapore, immersing participants in real-world applications of green innovations.
Upcycle Fashion, the project focuses on DIY workshops to repurpose unused clothes into fashionable upcycled items. Alongside the hands-on sessions, the project aims to raise awareness of the implications of fast fashion through an online campaign. The project also seeks to cultivate online communities dedicated to discussing sustainable fashion and promoting local entrepreneurs who specialise in upcycling clothing.
Waste 2 Paper, the workshop enlightens participants on the process of recycling old papers into new sheets suitable for packaging or writing, presenting a tangible solution to the wasteful disposal of paper.
Friendship, sense of community
Pengsan Huon, a Talent Activation Senior Manager at Impact Hub Phnom Penh, expressed excitement over the four social project ideas.
He said they bring about solutions for the climate crisis while enabling engagement among Cambodian youths to discuss with youths from other ASEAN countries.
“They are not merely beginnings but solid foundations for a more eco-friendly and sustainable future. What adds to the excitement is the fact that these initiatives would extend across ASEAN communities, sparking important discussions at both local and regional levels,” Pengsan said.
He added that Project Green Jobs would help foster a shared awareness of the climate crisis in addressing local issues that in turn play a role in finding solutions in the larger battle against global climate problems.
The programme also emphasised the value of friendship and cooperation. Beyond cultural and national boundaries, the relationships forged by the volunteers consolidated the spirit of a single ASEAN community.
This experience reaffirmed the notion that the path to a sustainable future is one that should be taken collectively and requires combined voices to effect a meaningful change.
To get the latest news on Cambodia's business and tech, join Kiripost on Telegram.