For people living in rural areas, droughts, floods and other natural disasters are a constant threat. But many don’t realize that in recent times these things are the result of climate change, according to Suon Sopheap, a student at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia who has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the issue in remote areas.
To spread the word about climate change, the third-year Food Technology and Chemical Engineering major co-founded the Volunteer Program for Climate Change with two friends. “The aim of this campaign, under the theme of ‘We Have a Voice,’ is to allow youth to express their views and share knowledge, and to improve understanding of the issue among people in remote areas,” Ms. Sopheap said. “I believe that once information spreads, people will be more aware and better equipped to protect the environment.”
Ms Sopheap and her friends co-founded the group after becoming concerned about the lack of controls on pollution and deforestation in Cambodia.
But they are not fighting alone. About 100 students from various universities in Phnom Penh gathered at L’Orchidee Restaurant last two weeks to discuss climate change. The event was designed to raise awareness and serve as a model for activities to promote and protect the environment.
Sao Phally, 21, a student of Information Technology at Chenla University, said she picked up “a lot of valuable information about protecting and conserving forests and the environment” at the event. “There are various methods that young people can try. I learned that we all have a responsibility to protect and conserve our existing resources.”
Ms Phally added that youth are the foundation upon which the country will develop, which is necessary if living standards are to improve. She planned to use various means of sharing her knowledge with others in order to raise awareness about the importance of collaborating to protect the environment.
Pheng Sreysor, 22, a Social Work major at RUPP, said she was fascinated by the topic, but still wanted to know more about how to use her voice effectively. She also wanted to know how young people can change things for the better and reverse global warming.
“I learned about advocacy – using one’s voice. More importantly, I gained a lot of knowledge from people who are already working in the environmental field. And I also learned from other participants who shared their experiences and personal perspectives on protecting natural resources,” Ms Sreysor said.
By attending and watching videos at the event, she learned about the specific causes of climate change. People at all levels of society have an obligation to protect the environment, she said, adding that she hoped young people can use their voices effectively to make a positive impact on society. The voice of the individual is very important, she said. She urged people from every sector to join hands to save the environment.