Winners of the “Let’s Act Green for a Greener Mekong`` campaign.


2 Filipinos win Mekong Day campaign


LAOS – Two eco-friendly Filipinos living in Laos and Cambodia were among six winners awarded by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) on Friday to celebrate the Mekong Day anniversary and raise awareness of the danger of plastic waste in the Mekong River basin.

Four other winners of the green campaign are Lao citizens. The winners were selected from a group of 85 Facebook users who posted their green actions on the platform as part of the campaign “Let’s Act Green for a Greener Mekong” that they entered.

Each of the winners received a $50 cash prize and was presented with certificates of recognition.

Not only did their photo and video posts show their green actions, but they also encouraged others to join the cause for environmental protection and for a free-of-plastic Mekong River.

Ramon Macaraig of the Philippines, who is now living in Cambodia, posted several photos of himself and his colleagues collecting trashes and cleaning the Mekong River bank in front of the Royal Place in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh.

“Encouraging everyone to take care [of] the environment by simply throwing our trashes in the bin, waste segregation, implementing 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) and participating and influencing others,” Macaraig said in his post, which generated a lot of discussions around his green action.

Tadam Thanavanh of Laos posted a photo of two reused plastic boxes from Pepsi to grow organic plans, depicting an easy way to act environmentally friendly.

Her fellow countryman, Koungming Changleuxai, posted photos and a video clip on how he managed trashes and reduced plastic in daily life.

At the Mekong Day celebration, where these winners were presented with the awards and certificates, they told the nearly 100 attendees from the Lao government, embassies, MRC’s development partners and Secretariat’s staff of what motivated them to act green and how they wanted others to join the action.

The campaign, which ran from March 4 to 29, asked Facebook users to take photos or videos of their green actions and post them in a public mode with two hashtags #GreenMekongDay and #MekongRiverCommission.

All the six winning posts and those that stimulated others to act green were displayed at the celebration on Friday. They will also be posted on the MRC’s social media platform to continue encouraging similar actions, as a part of the Mekong Day – the day when the Mekong Agreement was signed on April 5, 1995.

“The Mekong River plays a very important role in our lives. Waste in the river can’t be tackled easily, so we should not treat the river as a trash bin. We need you to join us in making the Mekong River a healthy river for us and for all the living things inside it,” said Khankeo Oupravanh of Laos, who leads a team of several people to clean up the Mekong River bank in front of Vientiane’s Chao Anouvong Park regularly.

While presenting the awards to the winners at the celebration, MRC Secretariat CEO Dr. An Pich Hatda said he was pleased to see those stimulating actions and would like to encourage more of these.

“I’ve seen through those of the many photos and video clips how much people care for the Mekong River and how crucial it is to work together for a healthier river,” CEO Hatda said.

He added the MRC has been promoting environmental protection through its work related to water quality monitoring, environmental assessments, and basin-wide strategy development.

The Commission has since last year embarked on a “paperless initiative”, which encourages printing less paper and using more electronic documents for meetings and during daily operation. The initiative was expanded to include “no plastic water bottles” in meetings. Staff members at the Secretariat have also created a greener office where light and air conditioners are turned off during lunch break and more plants are grown in the office.

But given the sheer amount of plastic dumped into the Mekong River, which then flows into the sea, Dr. Hatda said that bolder and stronger actions and policies are needed.

“I highly encourage our Mekong citizens to live greener and act more responsibly and our governments to develop policies and embark on projects that are environmentally friendly to the River,” he said. GAD/Expat Media


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