Hoï An is a small touristic city in the center of Vietnam. This area is attractive because of its nature diversity and beaches, history and traditional architecture. In 2016, over 21 million of tourists visited this city of 120, 000 inhabitants.
In 2011, a U.N. Report established that the city of Hoï An has a high environment risk level (flood, water pollution…). That is why, this city has been chosen by the U.N. to experiment a new large project which will “help the town to materialize its plan of becoming the first eco-town in Vietnam”. This project is part of the 2030 U.N. sustainable goals.
Today, the city generates approximately 75 tons of waste every day from households, restaurants, hotels, markets... Tourism and local lifestyle lead particularly to an over consumption of single use plastic objects. That is why, we participated in a river clean up event and met Long Nguyen, founder of “Hoï An CLEAN UP”.
Hoï An CLEAN UP was created in 2016, in response to the waste accumulation in streets and rivers of the urban area. The main reason of that is tourists and local people are still used to throw their plastic waste everywhere, like they did before with old compostable materials.
The movement was initiated by two people, one local and one foreigner. Their wish was to improve quality of life, raise awareness on plastic pollution and involve tourists and local people in that cause by creating a community of volunteers. Today, Hoï An CLEAN UP gather almost 800 volunteers.
Hoï An CLEAN UP movement grew thanks to the organization of clean up events every Saturday morning and all year long. These types of events were promoted through social medias, an efficient communication channel in Vietnam, and thanks to word of mouth. Tourists, working foreigners, local people and many young people participate to these events.
One of the others objectives of Hoï An CLEAN UP is to educate Vietnamese youth on how the environment preservation is important. Hoi Clean Up team provides free lesson plans on waste pollution and littering reduction. The education of the next generation is a key lever to change behaviors on long term and to tackle efficiently the issue of waste spreading.
A lever to encourage good practices in local people daily habits is to involve the government. Today, local authorities take their part in the promotion of Hoï An CLEAN UP events by spreading announcements with loudspeakers. It is an important first step to consider this issue and raise awareness to more and more citizens.
WHAT NOW ?
The involvement of local authorities, to promote Hoï An Clean UP event, is a key to reach inhabitants and to sustain this movement. The government seems to be more and more involved in this type of local initiatives, in line with the U.N. project which is to develop Hoï An as the first eco-city in Vietnam.
In addition to the government first involvement, another perspective is to multiply CLEAN UP events in many others locations: in beaches, near rivers, in streets… The objective is also to reach different types of volunteers: tourists, foreigners and local people.
Thanks to free lessons in schools, Hoï An CLEAN UP founder educates the next generation and recruit more and more students to become volunteers.
To sustain local initiatives, the involvement of different type of actors seems to be a key: local authorities, inhabitants, tourists, businesses… Each part needs to feel involved and to really understand the benefits of the initiative. These solutions should be developed as being part of an whole urban ecosystem, with interactions and different needs. Hoï An CLEAN UP is an example, among others, that shows simple gestures have real impact to ensure a healthier and full of diversity world.