To celebrate United Nations Day 2018, the UN in Lao PDR and the Lao Youth Union co-hosted an event for young Laotians on healthy and responsible lifestyles
Vientiane, 19 October 2018 - “It’s sometimes difficult to grasp the idea that the tiniest decisions we make in our everyday lives affect the biggest things that determine what kind of country and planet we live on,” says Ms. Chansamai Phommachan, a student from Vientiane who is about to pursue a Master’s Degree in New Zealand in the coming months. Chansamai was one of the over 150 young people who joined the United Nations Day 2018 celebrations at the Lao Youth Union premises for an event entitled “My Choice – Our Future”.
United Nations Day is celebrated annually during the UN week on 24 October to promote the aims, values and achievements of the United Nations around the world. This year, the UN turns 73 years.
UN Resident Coordinator in Lao PDR, Ms. Kaarina Immonen (left), The Secretary-General of Lao Youth Union, Mr. Alounxai Sounnalath (center) and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mme. Khamphao Ernthavanh (right) all gave speeches to the youth at the beginning of the event. Photo: UN Lao PDR
The purpose of this year’s “My Choice – Our Future” event is to mobilize young people to think about their everyday choices, such as use of plastic, healthy nutrition, and use of energy and natural resources. At a panel discussion led by Lao Youth Radio host, experts from UN agencies and the government shared information on issues such as climate change, environmental conservation, responsible consumption and healthy diets. Guests also enjoyed a cooking competition held by the UN and dance performances by the Lao Youth Union and the local dance group Fang Lao.
In addition to the event, UN in Lao PDR has been promoting responsible and healthy lifestyles among Lao youth on social media during the past weeks by challenging them to send selfies of themselves taking climate action, combating plastic pollution and eating a healthy diet. The UN is also collaborating on the production of a radio program, hosted by young Laotians on similar topics, to be aired in the coming weeks. Environmental conservation of the Mekong river will be another message promoted by the United Nations to mark UN Day 2018, by supporting a team during the annual Boat Racing Festival in Vientiane.
Participants of the healthy food cooking competition promoting their dishes. Photo: UN Lao PDR
In her opening remarks at the event, UN Resident Coordinator in Lao PDR, Ms. Kaarina Immonen emphasized the importance of passionate young people for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and encouraged Lao youth to reflect on the effects their actions have on the environment, their health and their fellow citizens. “Our actions matter. Through them, we have the potential to change the world for the better”, she asserted.
Also present in the event were the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mme. Khamphao Ernthavanh, and the Secretary-General of the Lao Youth Union, Mr. Alounxai Sounnalath. In her speech, Deputy Minister Ernthavanh hailed the strong partnership between the Government of Lao PDR and the UN and the UN’s continuous contributions to the socio-economic development of Lao PDR. She also emphasized the role of the youth in confronting the challenges that Lao PDR is facing, which are not only local, but global in nature. Similar sentiments were echoed in Mr. Sounnalath’s speech. “As individuals in isolation we cannot save the world, but as individuals who take part in mass efforts we can,” he concluded.
A panel of UN and Government experts gave the youth simple advice on how everyone can contribute to protecting the environment through everyday choices. Photo: UN Lao PDR
How are young people present at the event planning on taking action for a more sustainable future? “I am going to use less plastic and ride my bicycle more in the future. I will also tell all my friends about how important it is for everyone to try to save the planet”, says Sutthida Luanglath from Saysettha High School. “I would like to go to remote provinces and try to help the disadvantaged people there. We all need to support each other”, remarks Khamphong Keoviphakon.
Simple and small changes to our everyday habits can have a big impact. Major global challenges such as climate change, plastic pollution and international epidemics are not only encountered in conference halls and cabinets of world leaders. We are confronted by them in our daily lives. Each of us is therefore responsible for our own future, but we also contribute to the future of our country and of the globe.
For more information, please contact:
Ms. Ildiko Hamos-Sohlo,
Communications Specialist, UN in Lao PDR