Science Workshop “Cambodia’s Green Pioneers” at Royal University of Phnom Penh

On 28 February 2024, the Science Workshop “Cambodia’s Green Pioneers”, jointly prepared and implemented by the Build4People Work Packages “Behaviour Change” (WP#1) and “Sustainable Urban Transformation” (WP#6), took place at the Cambodia-Korea Cooperation Center of Royal University of Phnom Penh.

The key objective of this workshop was to introduce about two interconnected Build4People milestones, the “Build4People Awareness Campaign” and the “Build4People Exhibition” with the title “Cambodia’s Green Pioneers”. Both envisaged activities are considered as important participatory interventions to contribute to a change of mindset of Cambodia’s urban population, to enhance their self-efficacy, and to lead to more urban sustainability based on more environmentally friendly behaviour. 

The Build4People exhibition, for example, intends to increase the public visibility of a diverse set of sustainability pioneers aiming to inspire the urban population to replicate their sustainable lifestyles. 

As a basis for both interventions serves the process of community based social marketing, a sound scientific approach when it comes to foster sustainable behavior.

The workshop started with a brief opening speech by two representatives of the local research partners of Royal University of Phnom Penh, Dr. Op Vanna and Dr. Seak Sophat.

Afterwards, Dr. Michael Waibel, representative of whole Build4People project consortium and WP#6 leader, gave the opening speech and briefly explained about the rationale behind the workshop thereby drawing on his personal experience of observing the economic rise of Cambodia during the past almost thirty years going along with environmental pollution und unsustainable lifestyles.

Next, Dr. Anke Blöbaum, Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg and WP#1 Leader, provided theoretical insights into the topic by delivering a scientific keynote presentation on social marketing campaign approaches, providing insights into awareness campaigning and the significance of role models in the field of sustainable urban transformation.

The presentation was followed by the shooting of a PR teaser clip involving all participants of the workshop and managed by Impact Hub Phnom Penh. The teaser clip is meant to function as a kick-off for the Build4People Awareness Campaign and as a call for Green Pioneers. It had been carefully scripted in advance to the workshop by the Build4People team members and finally implemented by Impact Hub Phnom Penh.  

Thereafter, two parallel interactive sessions followed to collect basic ideas on how to design and implement such a campaign in Phnom Penh. Session A, led by WP#1, focused on an awareness raising campaign, while Session B, led by WP#6, dealt with the envisaged exhibition of Cambodia’s Role Models. Both sessions are described in the following in more detail. 

The aim of session A was to collect ideas on the content-related design and the social diffusion of a potential awareness raising campaign with regard to three different behaviour domains: mobility, energy consumption, and the use of plastic goods. A parallel session was held for each behavioral domain so that intensive work could be carried out in smaller groups. Each parallel group was facilitated by a B4P team member to support the process.

Session B “Implementing the B4P Exhibition“ Cambodia’s Green Pioneers” firstly aimed to consult local stakeholders on the process and criteria for selecting “Cambodia’s Green Pioneers” (CGP) as positive role models to raise environmental awareness among citizens in Cambodia in general, and Phnom Penh in particular. The session operated in forms of interactive brainstorming groupwork. Participants sat in 3 groups representing each behaviour spheres (individual behaviour, non-activist public behaviour and organizational behaviour). Discussions were guided by semi open-ended questions. For each question, options are provided as food for thoughts, which build on discussion outputs of B4P project’s previous workshops, mainly within the context of WP#1.

The second part of session B focused on facilitating discussions on the implementation plan of the Exhibition among local stakeholders. As above, discussions were guided by semi open-ended questions provided as food for thoughts. In addition, participants were asked to provide their own opinions.

Finally, we can safely maintain that the workshop was a successful example of joint inter-disciplinary collaboration in-between two Build4People Work Packages, including the local research partners at Royal University of Phnom Penh.

In particular, the interactive group work discussions strongly engaged with local stakeholders and gave them, especially young students, the platform to discuss and present their opinions to the workshop topics. So, there was a strong feeling of empowerment after the workshop. 

Of course, the discussions results got noted, setting a solid foundation for WP#1 and WP#6 to plan and to implement the awareness raising campaign and the exhibition “Cambodia’s Green Pioneers”. 

But first and foremost, our workshop has been a tremendous success mainly due to the enthusiastic participation of local stakeholders, including the many students, local sustainable entrepreneurs, state representatives and many others. That is why the whole Build4People team would like to kindly express its deep gratitude to all the engaged supporters and participants of this meaningful event.

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