Hoang Thi Minh Hong, the eldest sister at CHANGE, is well known for her honor of “Climate Hero” or “Hong Antarctica.” She was recently named one of the 50 most influential women in Vietnam in 2019, voted by Forbes magazine.
Ms. Hong is the founder of the Center for Hands-on Actions and Networking for Growth and Environment (CHANGE), a non-profit organization pioneering environmental movements in Vietnam. Here, she gathers “bold” young people with the same strong desire to protect the environment and wild animals. Ms. Hong’s and CHANGE’s activities have helped raise the community’s awareness of the surrounding environment and call on the community to join hands. One of her signature activities is the event “Earth Hour.”
The story of bringing “Earth Hour” to Vietnam
In 1997, Ms. Hoang Thi Minh Hong was the first Vietnamese to set foot in Antarctica along with an exploration crew of 35 people from 25 different countries. The trip changed her perception and mindset about the environment.
“If I’m lucky enough to set foot in Antarctica, I have to do something for this world.” The day she returned from Antarctica, the first thing she did to “repay” the world was deciding to quit her job and devoting herself to spreading environmental messages, such as global warming, ice melting, etc., to many other people. know better. “Every day, I go to work from morning to night and receive a salary, thinking why am I so useless to society?” – Ms. Hong shared.
In the following years, she struggled to find herself a stable job in the environmental field. Although people seemed to be interested in the story of Antarctica, yet when she called on the people to organize local environmental activities, it was not easy. At times, she became depressed.
In 2002, when Ms. Minh Hong worked for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in the Mekong region, she had the opportunity to learn and work on the practical environmental programs that she dreamed about. In the same year, she was honored to attend the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa. The luggage she brought to this important conference was 10,000 signatures of the Vietnamese people sent to world leaders, recommending immediate action to protect the atmosphere.
In 2008, she persuaded the WWF leader in the Mekong region to bring Earth Hour to Vietnam (WWF launched in Australia in 2007). She hoped that Earth Hour would be a campaign that highlighted the meaningful and important message that everyone could do a small thing (like turning off a light bulb) to reduce the impact on the environment, reduce emissions, and combat climate change. The program has attracted the attention, support, and participation of 63 provinces and cities and many people from all social classes, becoming a prominent and pervasive activity throughout Vietnam.
Hanoi was the first place chosen to launch Earth Hour. Although the event was initially held at the Hanoi Opera House within a small budget, the impact was enormous. The discourse about the environment began to be formed. A year later, Ms. Hong continued to help WWF organize Earth Hour at the Opera House. Still, that time, it was in Ho Chi Minh City with the participation of thousands of young people and dozens of large and small businesses.
In particular, in 2012, she and a group of young people organized “Earth Hour with a Difference” in Ho Chi Minh City; by replacing all burning candles with LED candles, using coir mats for the stage backdrop, and solar energy for electrical and audio systems.
Up to now, Earth Hour has become one of the annual large-scale environmental events, receiving enormous support from people across the country.
Being honored as one of the 50 most influential women in Vietnam in 2019
CHANGE in Vietnamese means “su thay doi” (making differences). Hong likes this word very much. Change is the core of every social development process and humans’ ability to achieve a better life. She founded CHANGE with the mission of promoting community awareness about the environment among young people. With her contributions, at the 2015 United Nations Conference on Climate Change held in Paris – France, she was recognized as a Climate Hero by Climateheroes.org.
In September 2018, Ms. Hong became one of 12 outstanding civic leaders in the world selected to participate in the first 9-month Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University (USA). Only Ms. Minh Hong worked in the field of environmental protection.
On March 4, 2019, Forbes Vietnam, the leading prestigious business magazine in Vietnam, announced the 50 most influential women in Vietnam 2019. It was the second time Forbes Vietnam announced the list. The list included prominent figures in politics, business, science education, social activism, media, arts, creativity, and sports. Ms. Hoang Thi Minh Hong was honored in the field of social activities.