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Eco-festival to educate about environmental issues


Garbage pollution in Kampong Chhnang. Tracey Shelton

ECO-FESTIVAL, which starts today and runs through Sunday near Wat Botum, represents the grand finale of Cambodia's second annual Environment Week.

The event, which is being coordinated and sponsored by the French embassy  and France-based NGOs GERES and AFD, aims to raise awareness of environmental issues among the people of Cambodian.

"We want all Cambodians to know clearly about their environment and how to put their environment in good condition," said Heng Pisey, an 18-year-old volunteer from the Cambodian NGO Khmer Youth and Social Development (KYSD). "As the next  generation, we must take care of our environment."

The event's organiser, Allan Michaud, says he wants to send the message of environmental awareness especially to people in the capital.

"People living in Phnom Penh are the ones who actually have some power in the country," he said.  "If you can get the urban people to understand, particularly the students ... they can take the necessary steps in the future."

The youth volunteers from KYSD are particularly concerned about getting across their message on the need to reduce plastic waste.

"The people in Phnom Penh are usually careless when throwing out garbage, especially plastic.  They just don't care," said Heng Pisey.

As part of the event, the KYSD volunteers will don costumes made out of recycled plastic bags.  

"When people look at this, they can see how important garbage can be," said Heng Pisey.

Educational displays

The festival will provide NGOs with the opportunity to display their projects under a specifically designated display tent.  

"The NGOs can show the general public what they are doing," explained GERES Deputy Director Charlotte Nivollet.  "People can walk around and have a look, and then have discussions with the organisers."  

Information, posters and books will be distributed for free by the participating NGOs.

Films will be screened nightly, including the premiere of the French-made documentary Home  tonight.  

Directed by Yann-Arthus Betrand, Home is a documentary shot primarily through aerial cameras and explores the ways in which humans are disturbing nature's balance. 

The film will be screened simultaneously in more than 50 countries.

  Music acts, quizzes and role-playing acts will take place on the park's centre stage.



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