Skip to content

This year's honorees are reshaping the future. Join us.


Q&A with Khanh Nguy Thi

July 25, 2018

In April 2018, Khanh Nguy Thi became the first person from Vietnam to be awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize. Her research-based, collaborative approach to advocating for sustainable long-term energy solutions in Vietnam is helping to move the country toward a greener energy future. Read her Q&A below to learn how she’s supporting Vietnam’s energy transition.

Goldman Environmental Prize: What motivated you to start working toward cleaner energy in Vietnam?

Khanh Nguy Thi: Having grown up just miles away from a core power plant in the countryside [of northern Vietnam], I saw many people in my family and community have serious health issues. This motivated me to find solutions to avoid repeat situations. After studying the issue and learning that the government had large-scale plans to build coal plants, I started to think about how I can contribute in positive ways.

Khanh (center) with colleagues at GreenID in Hanoi

GEP: Can you tell us more about Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance (VSEA), a network of 11 Vietnamese environmental NGOs that you founded?

KNT: VSEA is a coalition of Vietnamese and internationally-based organizations working in Vietnam. These NGOs are committed to promoting energy deployment in the country. There are now more than 10 members now, and we also have individual members that are experts in diverse fields, including climate change, sustainability, energy planning, renewable energy, education, health issues, and legal issues.

GEP: How does it feel being one of the few women working for this cause in a male dominated society?

KNT: It can be challenging at times, especially when working with experienced men in the power sector. However, in my work, I believe I reflect the concerns of citizens and women in the field. I am not an engineer or scientist, but I use an evidence-based approach in my work. Through my research, I saw that I needed to tell the truth on environmental issues affecting all Vietnamese citizens. Eventually, the media became supportive of my position, and I began getting asked for interviews. The more I spoke on these issues, the more confidence I gained, and I earned the support of experts in the network.

Khanh stands before the Cam Pha Power Plant in the Quảng Ninh Province

GEP: What are you currently working on now?

KNT: I continue working with my team at GreenID, the environmental organization I founded, to support the energy transition in Vietnam. Our goal at GreenID is to help renewable and sustainable energy solutions become important parts of the country’s energy sector. I also recognize the value of renewables for the poor and hope that future policy changes will provide stronger support for citizens to participate in the energy transition. Focusing on this transition will solve many pollution issues, leading to a better quality of life through improved water and air in Vietnam. What has been a key takeaway is the impact of meaningful engagement with stakeholders. Always listen to the opinion of different stakeholders to find the right way to deliver messages and build solutions.

GEP: What advice do you have for people who want to make a difference?

KNT: When a citizen who has a good idea works hard to make this idea happen, they will have a positive impact on the nation’s development. It is important to commit and make the idea happen.

Related Posts

Prize Winners Today: Heffa Schücking Holds Banks Accountable for their Role in Climate Change

January 19, 2022 – By Ellen Lomonico

Our interview started with good news: Heffa Schücking (Germany, 1994) was celebrating the birth of her first grandson. When asked about the recent United Nations COP26 conference, the new grandmother laughed, saying, “I was rather afraid you’d ask this. I’ve been spending the days admiring my grandchild and changing diapers!” It was the first time…

Read more

Kimiko Hirata: Stopping the Expansion of Coal Power in Japan

June 21, 2021

By Kimiko Hirata As a climate policy advocate for many decades, I was truly shocked to see the Japanese government and corporations rush to return to coal power following the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident in 2011. Japan’s promotion of coal power projects in the midst of a climate crisis clearly indicated that the climate was…

Read more
2020 Goldman Prize winner Lucie Pinson

Lucie Pinson: Combating the source of climate change—finance

December 15, 2020

The following is a statement by 2020 Goldman Environmental Prize winner Lucie Pinson. Read the French translation. By Lucie Pinson We can win the climate war. Extreme weather events are accelerating and intensifying, further impoverishing those least responsible for global ecological disaster and fueling social tensions amid rising nationalism. The Arctic is melting, California and…

Read more