The U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change delivered remarks while visiting Fulbright University Vietnam on February 25, 2022.
It was in 2016 that Mr. John Kerry, the then U.S. Secretary of State, presided over the official launching ceremony of Fulbright University Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City. A continuation from the success of the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program, which was founded in 1995 and bore the fruits of Kerry’s dedicated efforts to bring Vietnam and the United States closer through education cooperation, the university represents “a future that was not defined by war, but defined by learning, knowledge, and lessons that we can pass on to other generations,” as reiterated by Mr. Kerry during his recent visit to Fulbright’s Crescent Campus.
The event was part of Mr. Kerry’s four-day visit to Vietnam, from February 22 to 25, 2022, as the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change. “What brings me to Vietnam, right now, is that the government of Vietnam made an important commitment in Glasgow [COP26] about achieving net-zero emissions by 2050,” he said. “This is a very important discussion we need to have now. This is something scientists have been telling us […] in simple mathematics and physics, that we need to reduce emissions by 45% between now and 2030. And 2050 is not achievable unless you do what you have to do now. That is the guidepost.”
A cleaner, safer, healthier world for future generations
At COP26, nearly 200 nations reached a climate agreement to accelerate efforts to limit the earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, in a “critical decade” that requires reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 45% to reach net zero around mid-century. “What we did was create the framework for that resolution, and got more commitments from more countries and more private sector entities than ever in history,” said Mr. Kerry, as he reflected the coming together of countries representing 65% of global GDP, with respect to nationally determined contributions. “But that also means that 35% did not. So we still have to bring those countries on board. Because we believe there are possibilities for huge transitions here.”
Citing Vietnam’s remarkable renewable resources from wind to solar to hydropower, especially with Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces as magnets for clean energy projects, Mr. Kerry emphasized the country’s potential to make a coal-to-clean transition that will create jobs, reduce pollution, and help Vietnam “keep the lead that you have shown in these last years about how to build a vibrant economy and how to improve the life of people”. “I promise you, the building of this new clean energy future is providing for future generations a cleaner, safer, healthier world in which to live, where we have not the destruction of species, but genuine sustainability.”
As a result of this momentous global efforts to combat climate change, according to Mr. Kerry, there will be enormous demand for new skills across all spectrum of work, be it the demand for engineers, architects, designers, electricians, heavy equipment operators, or pipefitters to develop clean grids and build energy-efficient buildings. “I know because I’ve seen it first-hand in my own state in Massachusetts, and across our country. The fastest growing jobs in America are wind-turbine service technicians. And the third fastest growing jobs in America are solar panel installers. It’s happening, folks.”
During his exchange with Fulbright students, Mr. Kerry encouraged the young people of Vietnam to take the time to understand what they’re passionate about, to enjoy the fruits of being young, as well as the benefits of a great education. “In today’s world, you don’t have to pick one career,” he said. “In today’s world, you can go out there and have any number of things you wind up doing. Pick the things that excite you, and do what makes you happy in life.”
“Green from the Beginning” – The public-private partnership at Fulbright
At the event, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change also made a special announcement that USAID is going to provide Fulbright up to $16.5 million over the next 3 years, adding to the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) previous commitment of $37 million, to further the university’s future development.
In 2017, the then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, along with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, presented a letter of interest to Fulbright University Vietnam to support the design and construction of the university’s main campus. Since then, Fulbright is honored to have received generous financial commitments from private philanthropists all over the world, the U.S. development agencies, and the support of the Vietnamese government by donating a 15 hectare parcel of land in the Saigon High-Tech Park, to build its flagship campus in Ho Chi Minh City, the first phase of which will be completed in 2023.
In her opening remarks, Fulbright President Dam Bich Thuy laid out the university’s vision of a green campus that will serve as a living sustainability laboratory for students, faculty and the interested public: committed to net-zero emission, it is built in adherence to LEED, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification system, and LOTUS, the Vietnam Green Building Council certification.
“This campus will be the most environmentally advanced education complex ever built in Vietnam, demonstrating our commitment to solutions that mitigate and adapt to climate change,” said President Thuy. “This is a goal embodied not only by our investment in eco-friendly infrastructure, but also in everything we do, from teaching and research initiatives to policy advising to encouraging green projects from our community members.”
The joint efforts from the public and private sectors between the two nations to invest in Fulbright, and thus, the future of Vietnam and its transition to renewable energy, were commended by Mr. Kerry as an extraordinary milestone that proves “you can make improbable things happen”, and that “green from the beginning” is something achievable even for a young institution like Fulbright. “This university is a monument to the ability of people to overcome dark times, and find the best [in ourselves], which is educating young people for the future,” Mr. Kerry said, reflecting on the positive changes he had witnessed during his many visits to Vietnam.
Mr. John Kerry: “I’m fighting for Plan A”
Talking to Fulbright students and distinguished guests of the university, Mr. Kerry stressed exciting opportunities for investment and development of green technologies. With examples of commitments made by corporations such as General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Tesla, he underlined the American private sector’s support of their government towards a carbon-free future, and trillions of dollars from the global finance industry to invest in efforts to tackle climate change.
“So that tells you a story about the marketplace, and where people are betting on the future,” he said.
But how to get that money deployed is an important question Mr. Kerry expounded: “It’s not giveaway money. It’s investment money. So you have to create bankable projects. Governments need to work with philanthropies and bring multilateral development banks to the table to de-risk the investments. What really makes a difference is the investment money that has to be put on the table in order to buy the equipment, build the factory, pay the workers initially when there’s no revenue, get the business up and running – that is where the private sector is going to be.”
In response to a question posed by Mr. Le Hong Minh, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of VNG, as well as one of the inaugural members of Fulbright’s Founders Circle, on whether or not there is a Plan B in the likelihood that the world fails to reach targets to combat climate change, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change asserted: “Frankly, I don’t sit around thinking about Plan B, because I’m fighting for Plan A.”
“Europe has set the target to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. The U.S.: 50 to 52% cut. UK: 68%. Canada: 45 to 50%. South Korea and Japan are about the same,” he said. “But let me remind you, just 20 countries account for 80% of global emissions. If we can get to 1.5 degrees without a bunch of countries, the possibilities of what we can get done are actually much bigger than that. We can win this battle if everybody gets on board and becomes a part of it. Now can we move fast enough? I believe we can.”
The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) at Fulbright University Vietnam in collaboration with USAID and Tetra Tech is hosting a Workforce Gender Equality Accelerated Program designed and moderated specifically for Vietnam Electricity (EVN). The program consists of organizational and personal assessments, a 6-day virtual training, and four months of coaching to prepare EVN’s management participants to become agents of change and develop other skills.
On three consecutive weekends from December 4 to 19, 2021 followed up by four-month coaching process, the program is facilitated by an international team of Engendering Utilities change-management and gender equality experts whose backgrounds vary greatly in Human Resources across multiple industries from electrical to consumer and non-profit to private sectors.
The program curriculum draws from USAID’s toolkit, Delivering Gender Equality: A Best Practices Framework for Male-Dominated Industries, which demonstrates methods for introducing gender equality initiatives at each phase of the employee lifecycle. Intended to be a catalyst for change, the program provides a holistic practical learning environment that ensures success for EVN’s participating employees and the group itself. Throughout the learning courses, participants are prepared to become agents of change within their organizations by developing the skills needed to:
- Identify gender equality gaps within their organization
- Develop a business case that demonstrates how gender equality will benefit the organization’s bottom-line
- Take targeted, tangible, and strategic action, grounded in assessment, to increase gender equality in their organization
- Strengthen leadership and change management skills to exercise more influence, thus, create an equitable and diverse workplace
- Effectively engage other male and female leaders within their organization in support of desired changes.
Following the training, participants are taking part in a virtual coaching process spread over four months to help them successfully drive change, improve gender equality, and build resilience in their organization. Before and after each participant joins the course, they must complete Participant Self-Assessment, whose aim is to record their knowledge, attitudes, and current practices related to promoting gender equality in the workplace. Hence, EVN will be evaluated on how the group, as a whole, implements the Gender Action Plan, which has been built during the course, for their subsidiaries.
Gender equality and women entrepreneurship in Vietnam workforce
In Vietnam, there is a common notion of women being secondary earners while men being breadwinners, recorded in both rural and urban settings. This is known as a ‘gendered structure’ economy. This involves the perception that women’s natural competency is mainly limited to housework and not in management and business. Vietnamese women tend to face greater vulnerability and disadvantages due to low levels of financial and digital literacy, lack of opportunities for capacity development, and discriminatory sociocultural norms.
According to research, the gender earnings gap in Vietnam is estimated to be 29.5 percent, with 21.5 percent in urban areas and 35.2 percent in rural areas. COVID-19 has also contributed to a reduction in working hours for women and the loss of jobs. Between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the same period in 2020, Vietnam’s women labor force participation rate fell from 76 percent to 73.8 percent.
The participation gap between the two genders is even more immense when it comes to male-dominant industries, specifically the energy sector. Based on a report by Vietnam Electric Trade Union, as of December 31, 2020, the total number of female employees in the EVN group is around 19,997 – accounting for only 20.6% of the total group population.
Moving forward Vietnam’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN, Resolution No. 28/NQ-CP has been approved in March 2021, which embarked the National Strategy on Gender Equality in 2021 – 2030. Specifically, by 2025, 60% and by 2030, over 75% of state management agencies and local administration at all levels shall have female leaders. The resolution is also aimed to increase the rate of female employees engaged in paid work to 50% by 2025 and to approximately 60% by 2030. As UN Women praised Vietnam’s commitments to increase female representation in the workforce and politics particularly at local and provincial government levels, the strategy is expected to help Vietnam better achieve its national targets for women’s entrepreneurship, shaping a more sustainable and inclusive economy and society.
In male-dominated sectors, expanding women’s participation leads to tangible economic empowerment outcomes for women, such as formal employment opportunities and higher income. Increased gender equality also improves organizations’ business performance, encourages companies to meet their bottom-line by enhancing employee satisfaction, reducing turnover, and driving productivity. In time, well-functioning organizations will be the unassailable bedrock that shall support a stronger and more resilient Vietnamese economy.
The CEI’s commitment to driving entrepreneurship and innovation across Vietnamese society
“So far, the training has brought us all, participants and facilitators, together and created a premise towards building and implementing the Gender Action Plan at EVN,” says a participant about the Workforce Gender Equality Accelerated Program’s virtual training sessions. “I have learned so much from other participants and their organization. The courses are well-developed and purposeful, which has inspired me – a woman, to change my own perspectives and behaviors. I wish that each of us will become an ambassador of Gender Equality.”
The participants at EVN gave the Workforce Gender Equality Accelerated Program an NPS of 4.6, with a 4.8 out of 5 going to the smooth communication between facilitators and learners throughout the virtual courses. Among all of the learning contents, Empowering, Self-motivation & Leading Change and Gender Strategy & Change Management are the two most worthwhile modules chosen by respondents. Coaching sessions with high-profile experts are also expected to be one factor accounting for the success of the program.
Launching the Workforce Gender Equality Accelerated Program has been one of CEI’s efforts in developing and improving company culture, policies, and practices that advance gender equality, and is most applicable to companies that have (or are in the process of developing) standard human resource practices. The program further proves the CEI’s commitment to incubating and accelerating ventures going after Vietnam’s toughest challenges. With great hope, the CEI aims to cultivate the next generation of ethical leaders and changemakers of Vietnam and the region.
“Even though it is the first-time launch in Vietnam, the Workforce Gender Equality Accelerated Program for EVN has opened doors for a start of new initiatives and more insightful perspectives on this sector. Our facilitators who lead the training content adjustments are looking forward to tailoring more Vietnamese context and data on gender equality for Vietnamese corporations,” shared Spencer Ton, CEI’s Director.
Since its launch in 2019, the CEI as Fulbright University Vietnam’s first University Center, has initiated various innovative programs to embed entrepreneurship and innovation into the core of Fulbright’s culture and academic program. Furthermore, the CEI has also offered impactful learning opportunities on entrepreneurship and innovation for stakeholders across Vietnamese society and the region, including non-Fulbright students, professionals, startups, companies, and members of the general public.
Follow CEI to update the latest Entrepreneurship & Innovation activities:
The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) at Fulbright University Vietnam in collaboration with USAID is hosting a seven-week virtual course as part of the Workforce Gender Equality Accelerated Program aiming to improve gender equality in male dominant industries across Asia.
The program is facilitated by an international team of Engendering Utilities change-management and gender equality experts in conjunction with faculty and staff from Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Fulbright University Vietnam in collaboration with Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Gender Equity Executive Leadership Program (GEELP), the Johns Hopkins University Self-Empowerment and Equity for Change (SEE Change) Initiative, and the Men Engage Alliance.
The first cohort of the program will be delivered virtually with representative participants from Vietnam, Bhutan, the Philippines, Maldives, India, and Pakistan. The course will be held from September 21, 2021 to November 8, 2021 with follow-up coaching sessions till end of February, 2022.
The Workforce Gender Equality Accelerated Program is a six-month program that consists of organizational gender equality assessments, the seven-week virtual course, and four months of change management coaching that prepares managers to become agents of change within their organizations.
The Accelerated Program focuses on developing and improving company culture, policies, and practices that advance gender equality, and is most applicable to companies that have (or are in the process of developing) standard human resource practices.
The Accelerated Program is designed for female and male managers who wish to develop their gender equality expertise, boost their influence, and spearhead change within their organization. Operations leaders, HR managers, and managers of other support functions who are strategically placed within their organizations to influence change are encouraged to apply. Each program accepts up to fifty participants, and organizations are required to send two to three employees.
On June 22nd, 2020, Fulbright University Vietnam held a ceremony on campus grounds for the reception of the second round of funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The ceremony was attended by H.E. Daniel Kritenbrink, US Ambassador to Vietnam, Michael Greene, Director of USAID Vietnam, President of Fulbright University Dam Bich Thuy, as well as student and faculty representatives. Following a successful first round of funding in 2017, the new grant amounting to US $4.65 million will further support Fulbright as we continue to develop our educational programming, both for undergraduates and executive programs, expand training opportunities, bolster our administrative capacity, and prepare for the international accreditation process of our undergraduate program over the next two years.
“We know that trusting a university like Fulbright, at such an early stage, is not an easy decision. We appreciate the trust the US Government and USAID place in us. We will continue our efforts to create a rich and innovative learning environment for Vietnamese students,” said President Dam Bich Thuy.
Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink emphasized in his speech the unique position of Fulbright University Vietnam in the Vietnam-US bilateral relationship as a “cornerstone of our people-to people ties.” As both countries prepare to celebrate the 25th anniversary of renewed diplomatic relations, USAID’s investment in the development of our university holds special meaning, demonstrating the US government’s long-term commitment to Fulbright university Vietnam, a flourishing education sector, and a bright future for Vietnamese society more broadly.
“FUV is helping Vietnam respond to an undeniable thirst for modern education,” the ambassador explained, “this university is growing as an educational laboratory, testing new ideas about institutional independence, academic freedom, autonomy, admissions criteria, the relationship between students and teachers, research and development, student life, citizenship, communications, and technology. The success of these experiments will translate into success for Vietnam’s education system, people, and society.”
In addition, Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink congratulated Fulbright’s leadership in overcoming the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis quickly and effectively. Phan Thuc Anh then took the stage on behalf of our student community to share her experiences during this turbulent semester. As the pandemic continued to affect those around her, Thuc Anh’s desire to contribute her efforts in dealing with the pandemic led her to choose subjects outside of her majors. With the support of her professors, Thuc Anh drew on knowledge in epidemiology, policymaking, economics, proposal writing and more to conduct a pilot study, researching the effects of social distancing on virus transmission in Vietnam.
For Thuc Anh, “this is the beauty of Fulbright’s transdisciplinary approach and educational innovation: gaining a well-rounded understanding of the problem to create something meaningful.”
“When the crisis comes knocking on our door, helping students become true contributors and leaders in times of challenge demands much more from education than theoretical knowledge, skills, and attitude. It requires principles and a sense of mission, the ability to cope with negativity, to do hard things even when there is no one to praise us. But we would rather take on these challenges. We cannot afford the young’s inability and inaction as we take on the responsibility to face future crises,” Thuc Anh concluded.
Fulbright student Phan Thục Anh
After the ceremony, Ambassador Kritenbrink dedicated his time to an informal discussion with the Fulbright Young Diplomat Club. Our students drew on the ambassador’s decades long career in diplomacy and foreign affairs as he answered questions on the role of diplomacy, the value of trust, mutual understanding, and cooperation in building and maintaining relationships that benefit both countries.
Fulbright will welcome 180 new students this school year of 2020-2021, bringing the total number of enrolled undergraduates to nearly 300, an important milestone in the development of the university. Our university will take full advantage of USAID’s essential support to accelerate our efforts towards redefining higher education in Vietnam, fostering generations of leaders ready to overcome the challenges of tomorrow.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, June 22, 2020 – Today, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded a $4.65 million grant to Fulbright University Vietnam (FUV). The award signing ceremony, hosted at FUV’s Crescent Plaza campus, was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel J. Kritenbrink, USAID/Vietnam Mission Director Michael Greene, and FUV President Đàm Bích Thủy. This new two-year assistance grant to FUV follows a successful USAID grant of $7.2 million from 2017 to 2020.
While previous U.S. government support from USAID and the State Department helped FUV to build its initial foundations, from establishing its institutional governance structure to developing its academic program, and providing financial assistance to incoming students, the new grant will support investments that advance the university’s goal of international accreditation. USAID will also help FUV develop executive education and other programs so the university may begin serving the country’s professional community and labor force. Additionally, the grant will support FUV’s efforts to develop shared value partnerships with Vietnam’s technology, manufacturing, and service industry sectors.
“I am proud of all that we have accomplished together, and I am confident that the coming two years of this USAID-FUV partnership are going to deliver long-term impacts to this university and benefits to Vietnam. Fulbright University Vietnam holds a special place in our bilateral relationship, and I am honored to be here with you today to recommit the United States to supporting this important institution and cornerstone of our people-to-people ties. Because we know: As trusted partners, we prosper together,” said Ambassador Kritenbrink.
“We are grateful to continue receiving support from USAID to grow Fulbright University Vietnam, not only in institutional development, but also in gaining international recognition,” said Ms. Dam Bich Thuy, President of Fulbright University Vietnam. “With this grant, FUV will continue to lead the way in building a rich and innovative teaching and learning environment in Vietnam, for Vietnamese students.”
To view photos of the event, visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmNWqVUu. To learn more about the new grant, visit: https://www.usaid.gov/vietnam/documents/fact-sheet-fulbright-university-vietnam-fuv-support.
USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick visited Fulbright University Vietnam and held a special town hall with its students.
On 02 November 2019, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick traveled to Fulbright University Vietnam (Fulbright) to meet with its leadership team and students. This was part of her first south-east Asia trip in this position.
USAID is the U.S. Government’s lead agency for international humanitarian relief and development, and Ms. Glick is the second ranking official at the agency.
Watch the below video for more details about Ms. Glick’s significant visit.
USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick on 02 November 2019 visited Fulbright University Vietnam and held a special town hall with its students.
On 02 November 2019, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick traveled to Fulbright University Vietnam (Fulbright) to meet with its leadership team and students. USAID is the U.S. Government’s lead agency for international humanitarian relief and development, and Ms. Glick is the second ranking official at the agency. To date, Fulbright has been predominantly funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the Department of State.
Throughout her visit, Ms. Glick was impressed with the accomplishments Fulbright has achieved in just a few short years of its establishment. She also showed keen interests in learning the students’ stories with regards to their motivation, experience, and aspiration for Fulbright.
“I know that you students have great ambitions yourselves. You are Vietnam’s innovators and leaders of tomorrow, and America strongly supports you and this very special school. We have every expectation that together, you will play a vital role in overcoming Vietnam’s development challenges as you build relationships with your peers at home, in the United States, and around the globe,” said the Deputy Administrator.
During the discussion, the USAID official expressed interest on how an individual project could play a central role in solving the grand challenges of Vietnam and the world. One of Fulbright’s key strategies for combating such challenges is to provide a curriculum, which is built on the American tradition of liberal arts, sciences and engineering. The interdisciplinary aspect will expose the students to different topics spanning the arts, humanities, engineering, and the social, natural, and computational sciences, with a special focus on Vietnam.
“There’s so much that you can gain from this academic institution. While it’s young, you can help to form it. And in this country, you can help to form the future of Vietnam. Studying in an American university, you will, no doubt, have less of an impact. I’m not saying no impact but less of an impact and less of a direct impact than what you all are going to have on the future of Vietnam. … [T]hink about the intellectual challenges that you’re being afforded here and as well the opportunities to solve some of those intellectual challenges in a real-world way. That impact on your country is exceptional, but it’s not just your country, it’s east Asia and the whole world,” Ms. Glick emphasized.
Student’s question: “Why investing in FUV was a choice and why did you made that choice? Each and everyone of us takes a leap of faith, a risk to come here. What was your risk, USAID’s risk of funding us?”
“Normally when you think about an investment you think what will be the return on the investment. And sometimes, if you make an investment in a financial instrument, you see a quick return on the investment, or you lose your money.
“When we think about investing in young people, and when we think about investing in a place like Fulbright University Vietnam, we are thinking about a long-term return on the investment. So you all are going to be the return. And that doesn’t have anything about getting back stuff or money to the United States. That’s not what we’re interested in.
“We are interested in knowing that Vietnam’s future is so incredibly bright because student who has been trained academically in a way of thinking that incorporates all ideas, is going to be beneficial to the global environment, not just to the Vietnamese environment. You all are going to be raised intellectually to think broadly, think about ways that you in the future can partner with the United States. For us that will be 100+ percent return on our investment,” the Deputy Administrator answered.