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 CKCC (Cambodia-Korea Cooperation Center) at 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 rationale behind this is Cambodia’s vivid economic development of recent years which has led to increasing incomes of its urban population. Among others, this shows in highly dynamic construction activities, e.g. among manifold borey-developments, rising traffic volumes by individually possessed cars, and the surge of new shopping malls, just to name a few. However, the backside of welfare is an expanding ecological footprint, increasing environmental degradation, e.g. showing in a continuous loss of green spaces and water bodies, rising air pollution, abundant traffic jams, tremendous waste issues, growing social stratification, as well as in excessive consumerism of parts of the urban population. 

Against this backdrop, it is of special interest to heighten the awareness for these problems among the people. This way, Cambodians can be sensitized towards acting in a more sustainable way. In addition, there are some pioneers of pro-environmental behaviour in Cambodia, already, today. By providing public visibility to a diverse set of sustainability pioneers and public acknowledgement to these pioneers, e.g. by means of the envisaged The Build4People, they can function as role models, inspiring the urban population to act in a more environmentally friendly way and 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.

In the course of her comprehensive presentation Anke gave 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 got 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 an exhibition of Cambodian 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.

First, the participants discussed the problematic character of each behaviour domain as well as how this character could be communicated.

The discussion was guided by questions such as.

  1. What do you think is problematic about the behaviour domain in question?
  2. In which way is the behaviour domain problematic for the environment and the climate/ society as a whole/ you personally?
  3. In which way might it be problematic on the neighbourhood level?
  4. Which way should the campaign appeal to the problems identified in question #1?  How should the problems be communicated to reach the citizens of Phnom Penh? 
  5. Should the appeal be communicated in a rather rational or emotional way?

Additionally, participants were encouraged to reflect on potential sustainable alternatives to the behaviours performed currently in each domain.

  • As we have seen in answering question #1 there are diverse problems connected to the behaviour domain in question. Which behavioural alternatives can you think of that individuals could already perform today to avoid the problems identified?
  • Are there any collective actions people could conduct as a group in their neighbourhood to foster sustainable behaviour on the neighbourhood level?

Also, the discussion revolved around potential slogans, as well as messengers and communication channels through which the campaign could be diffused.

  • Can you think of possible slogans that could be used in the campaign?
  • How could we integrate the ideas gathered so far in a catchy slogan for the campaign? That is, which problem of the behavioural domain should we address, how should we communicate it and which behavioural alternative should we depict to help people change their behaviour?
  • Who could serve as a messenger to help the campaign diffuse?
  • By whom or what should the key message of the campaign be delivered?
  • Should it be a single person, a group of people or rather an institution (like an agency, a NGO, etc.)
  • Via which communication channels should the campaign be spread?
  • How do we reach out to different segments of the population?
  • Which communication channels exist and how relevant are they for different segments?
  • Which communication channels could be used if the campaign is adapted to the neighbourhood level?

Finally, the potential strengths and weaknesses of the situational context were taken into account in the session.

  • Which strengths and weaknesses of the overall context could foster/ hinder the diffusion of the campaign?
  • Which resources are available to support the campaign?
  • Which stakeholders in the broader societal and cultural context exist and would they be in favour or against the campaign’s diffusion?

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. In addition, participants were asked to provide their own opinions.

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.

Answers to the questions are summarized as below. 

Who should be the member of selection board?

  • B4P related WP leaders
  • B4P related CBD partners
  • City Administration
  • Academics
  • Independent experts
  • Others

What should be an effective social media channel to organize the selection and dissemination of the Exhibition? approach are useful for the implementation?

  • Facebook, TikTok, youtube, telegram, Instagram, Linkedin, X, whatsapp, snapchat, wechat, etc.

Who can be potential local partners for additional funding/cooperation?

  • UNDP, World bank, Khmer Enterprises, Smart Mobile, Ministry of Environment, DGNB, ADB, PPCH, OCIT, NGOs, Academic institutes

What might be the opportunities and challenges for the preparation and organization of the Exhibition?


  • Existence of green initiatives (financing, education, etc.)
  • Existing smart social media networks
  • Social and governmental support for pro-environmental activities


  • Lack of awareness, 
  • Lack of access to information
  • Lack of interests from stakeholders

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.

For further reference and for reasons of documentation and outreach, two PR clips have been published at our Build4People YouTube Channel: