In the lead up to International Biodiversity Day on May 22, The Vietnamese government took steps to engage youth not only to address the problem of wildlife consumption in Vietnam, but also encourage future generations to realize the importance of protecting biodiversity.
Wildlife consumption in Vietnam is a serious issue with many endangered species being illegally consumed for various reasons. Vietnam is often recognized as a large consumer of wildlife products endangering not only threatened species form Vietnam, but vulnerable species the world over. Wildlife parts have always been common for use in traditional medicine and as food. However, some products, especially rhino horn, are becoming increasingly popular, even trendy amongst the younger generation. The future of many vulnerable species depends on the next generation curbing the use of endangered species and protecting biodiversity.
With support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded ARREST Program (Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking), The Vietnamese Biodiversity Conservation Agency(BCA) engaged university students and Youth Union participants through presentations and a workshop in Hanoi, Vietnam addressing the growing problem of wildlife consumption in Vietnam. The director of the BCA, which falls under Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), opened the event by saying, “All of you here are the future of our nation. Let’s conserve our biodiversity.” The events were the beginning of a series of many USAID sponsored events being held in Vietnam over the week. Many of the students present voiced their thoughts. One student said, “Humans are the biggest threat to wildlife but we are also the hope for saving them.” Another added that wildlife products often provide effects that cannot be proven. ARREST partner FREELAND also presented the consumption reduction campaign iTHINK and encouraged youth to utilize the website and social media to create awareness.
The ARREST program continues to work with the Vietnamese government and NGO’s to ensure self-sustainable biodiversity conservation of Vietnam is achieved.