-Interview by Ou Tong Hour
As part of our “Smarter Cities” theme, Impact Hub recently hosted a talk on plastic waste management with Young Eco Ambassador Cambodia. Beginning as an environmental project that seeked to solve wildlife trafficking issues, Young Eco Ambassador (which is based in Cambodia and Philippines) was officially formed in 2015 after winning a Department of state funded grant in the YSEALI competition. It was a pleasure to have Ms. Chin Sopheaktra, the project coordinator of Young Eco Ambassador, speak with us at Impact Hub Phnom Penh and talk about their community.
What inspired you to join Young Eco Ambassador?
From what I see, everybody knows about environmental problems and say that they care. However, they do not start from themselves. So I want to be a part of an influence that encourages people to start caring about the environment by changing their habits since all the little things we do matter to our environment.
We are trying to solve environmental issues by promoting sustainable habits to people (for instance, avoid using plastic bottles or plastic bags). We are promoting all of these practices that seem so insignificant when they are done by one individual, but together, they can create a huge impact.
What is the vision and mission of Young Eco Ambassador?
Our vision is to see people live a sustainable lifestyle. To see them live their lives as a Young Eco Ambassador, which is to inspire others to do the same. If we talk about our mission, it is to enhance the spirit of loving nature and inspire people to live sustainably.
Can you give some details about the projects that Young Eco Ambassador has carried out?
Our projects focus on 8 themes including, wildlife, forest, plastic, energy, transportation, food, water, and materialism with divisionalized teams working on specific theme and creating their own campaigns. For example, our the plastic team is plans to go to work with Hun Sen Borey 100 Knong High School at Teuk Thla. The goal is to inspire the children there to stop using plastic and influence others to do the same.
Water Campaign ©Young Eco Ambassador
Earlier in May we organized an event called World Wildlife Day at the Ministry of Environment and we also had a study trip to Chi Phat, Koh Kong where we aimed to connect the participants with nature and relate this matter to the world issues such as deforestation. This project aims to show the participants about how these activities can affect the local people there as well as how it contributes to the global warming issue.
Trip to Chi Phat ©LomorKesor Rithy
We had another project in June where we cooperated with an artist to create an animal love exhibition which tackles the wildlife issue by promoting the beauty of wildlife through facepainting and photos exhibition. The purpose of this project is for people, especially children, to worship the lives of wild animals and the forest.
Because Young Eco Ambassador is social project, who are the supporters of this project and how do they support it?
We have different supporters and partners such as, the YSEALI (who provides us direct financial support), the U.S. Embassy, the Ministry of Environment (who support us in term of recognition) and other nonprofit organizations such as Winrock, Wildlife Alliance, and the Wildlife Conservation Society who supply us with wildlife experts as well as technical supports.
As a member of Young Eco Ambassador, what would be your advice to young Cambodians?
We, have this stereotypical thinking that if I change things, it is just me who makes an effort for change and it is not gonna be effective. But, I think big changes start from small changes and small changes start from each individual. You do not have to be an activist to solve environmental issues. You just have to change your habits that you think affect the environment and that is it. It can be as simple as carrying an eco bag to the market.
How can we keep in touch with and know more about what Young Eco Ambassador is doing?
We have our official Facebook Page, named, Young Eco Ambassador. You can click like and follow up with what we do. We are also planning to establish our official website later this year.
Ou Tong Hour is one of our Impact Hub Ambassadors interviewing with and writing profiles about different youth organizations and initiatives that are promoting social causes and helping Cambodians to live sustainably.