Nguy Thi Khanh of GreenID wins Goldman Environmental Prize
Five out of six of the world’s top environmental prize went to women this year and notably one of them was a Vietnamese woman. Ms. Nguy Thi Khanh is a clean-energy advocate and one of this year’s winners of the Goldman environmental prize. She is currently the GreenID Executive Director and is also in charge of advocacy under the Vietnam Rivers Network (VRN). This year, Student Exchange Vietnam will host students from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, USA. Northwestern University has a Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI) which is a “study abroad program that provides undergraduates with the knowledge, tools, and experiences to confront shared global challenges” (gesi.northwestern.edu). One of the companies the students from Northwestern will be working with is GreenID, Ms. Khanh’s company.
Nguy Thi Khanh’s Background
We are so excited to both host these students and be working with someone who is making such a big difference in Vietnam’s environment. Ms. Khanh comes from a humble background being born in the rural village of Bac Am. This village is located near a coal plant, so Ms. Khanh saw the direct impact these coal plants have and watched as many people in her community develop cancer as a result. Although she had studied to be a diplomat, she couldn’t contain her passion for the environment and began working on water conservation issues and community development for a small Vietnamese nonprofit organization. In 2011, she founded the Green Innovation and Development Center (GreenID) which promotes sustainable energy development in Vietnam in addition to good water and air governance and green development. Her main focus is working on renewable energy and energy efficiency in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and coal power.
Making Vietnam’s Power Development Plan Greener
When Vietnam announced their Power Development Plan, Ms. Khanh saw that they were predicting a dramatic increase in energy demands based on steep economic growth. She was not happy about this as the plan had a heavy reliance on coal and the long-term energy security and climate implications for Vietnam could be detrimental. Ms. Khanh worked very hard to develop an alternative and more environmentally friendly plan. She released a study on how to reduce the use of coal and replace it with sustainable energy sources. The study went into a thorough explanation about how expensive and risky coal is as a primary source of power, and unfortunately at this time there were also several coal-related environmental disasters in Vietnam. However, these disasters helped to emphasize the implications that coal can have and began bringing discussions about Vietnam’s energy future to the forefront. The coverage Ms. Khanh received from this allowed her and GreenID to collaborate with the Vietnamese government on a revised energy development plan. In March 2016, the Vietnamese government announced their revised Power Development Plan that was in collaboration with Ms. Khanh and her research. This new plan considerably lowered the number of coal plants and increased the use of renewable energy to 21% of the total energy plan by 2030. Ms. Khanh has helped guide Vietnam on the path toward energy independence. Ms. Khanh’s hard work and research on this project is what lead her to winning the Goldman environmental prize.
We are very proud of Ms. Khanh’s research, and we are thrilled to see Vietnam move toward renewable energy. These types of developments are what will bring Vietnam into the future and help save not only our beautiful country, but also our people. We are privileged to be able to work with someone who is doing such meaningful work, and we are delighted that the students of Northwestern University will be able to help further this important work.
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