Vannary Kong is pursuing a Master’s Degree at Harvard University in International Relations. She currently works for Granicus, a cloud-based digital solutions firm that focuses on enhancing the citizen-to-government relationship. She currently serves as a United Nations Youth Ambassador for Manta Sailing Centre in Mui Ne, Vietnam advocating for the rights of many Asian Indigenous groups through cultural preservation and environmental conversation through teaching water sports. Vannary has been aiding in the planning an implementation of establishing an All-Girl Boarding School in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia. She has also established the first youth financial literacy program in the Martindale Brightwood Neighborhood in Indianapolis through the Edna Martin Christian Center. In her spare time, Vannary also teaching English to refugees and children in Beijing, China.
Q & A with Vannary:
Q: Vannary, can you share a bit about the Youth G20 Summit and the goals? How do they relate to climate change and circular economy?
A: This year’s Y20 Summit was held in Tokyo, Japan on May 26-30, organized by the G7/G20 Youth Japan. Delegates from the G20 nations along with six guests from the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, the IMF, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization were also invited. The Saudi Arabia organization committee attended the Summit as observers as they will host the event next year. Discussion topics included issues related to business and environment, the future of work, and international trade. This Communique advocates for young people around the world and was shared with G20 leaders prior to the G20 Summit event in Osaka. The Y20 Summit called to
- Corporate Reporting must be monitored and based off of climate crisis to provide full
disclosure to public-private platforms, with an emphasis on Corporate Responsibility, to
become readily available to the public;
- Supporting workers’ protections and benefits in the digital and informal economy;
- Focusing on preparing the future and current generations for the global job market in the
the digital age with an emphasis on STEAM and 21st Century skills;
- Combatting the climate crisis and tackling global waste, particularly plastics;
- Strengthening the multilateral, rules-based trading system within the framework of the
World Trade Organization through IP Protection, reform of the public procurement rules,
equitable access of MSMEs to global markets, and to promote youth engagement. The Y20 delegates presented the final policy recommendations to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Prime Minister’s Office and we were featured on the Prime Minister’s website. The First Lady of Japan, Akie Abe, hosted the group at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence for a closing ceremony.
Within the Y20 Working Group on Business and Environment, we address the issues on how to combat the climate crisis. The G20 countries were recommended to:
A) Incentivize carbon emission reductions by appropriately costing greenhouse gas-related activities; in particular, those relating to the fossil fuel and the meat production industries.
B) Incentivize multi-stakeholder investment to provide resilient infrastructure and capacity building on emergency preparedness and sustainable practices, while prioritizing the needs of vulnerable populations that are affected in a differentiated manner.
C) Financially support collaboration between private sectors and academic institutions in order to conduct Research, Development, and Deployment on sustainable technologies.
D) Strengthen the ESG requirement of the Global Infrastructure Hub and adopt the recommendations of the Task Force for Climate-Related Financial Disclosures.
When it comes to the circle economy, the Communique relates in many ways. Within the ‘Business and Environment’ group there is a large emphasis put on addressing the issues of global waste and how to manage it through reduce, reuse, and recycle. The G20 countries are to prioritize developing national and corporate standards of measuring and monitoring the movement of by-products, along with incentivizing the private sector with regulations. Within the ‘Future of Work’ working group, for the circle economy, there was a large emphasis on workers’ rights and social protection promoting upholding equal pay, comprehensive benefits to fight against inequalities that affect youth, women, and marginalized communities. In order to increase economic development, there should be a virtual hub where people can have training programs focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. G20 countries should agree to use economic levers including government procurement agreements, rebates, and tax incentives, to encourage private companies to provide meaningful paid domestic and international career and entrepreneurship development opportunities for young people. Those opportunities must develop industry and sector-related skills and exposure to support labour force resilience to the changing nature of work and to foster the entrepreneurial aspirations of young people.
The ‘International Trade’ working group focused on the World Trade Organization (WTO) reform with:
A). The improvement of the monitoring and notification system;
B) The establishment of a permanent multilateral investment dispute settlement mechanism;
C) The reform of public procurement rules, industrial subsidies, and protection of intellectual property rights.
Additionally, trade reforms should particularly account for equitable access of MSMEs to global markets, which also promote youth engagement.
There was also an emphasis on corporate behavior that supports transparent and sustainable business. This would encompass standards on human rights, labor, environment, and disclosure. Within the Communique, we asked the G20 countries to ensure the free flow of data, enabled by a concerted international effort to adopt a coherent framework that protects personal data and consumer rights. The Communique encourages engagement in the on-going e-commerce negotiations among a group of WTO members in order to achieve interoperability of data and consumer protection rules.
Q: You’ve mentioned a role within the nonprofit associated with the White House. Can you share a bit about that nonprofit and what you are doing within the organization?
A: The Young Professional in Foreign Policy (YPFP) is a 501c3 that started in 2004 originally as a small group discussion as friends. YPFP’s membership now spans 80 countries and a network of over 20,000 emerging professionals in international affairs. The mission is to engage, build, and amplify international communities of young, dynamic, diverse leaders from all sectors to increase their impact on critical global challenges. YPFP is the White House’s official designating organization to choose the United States Youth Delegations for the Y20 and Y7 Summits. I am currently the United States G20 Youth Delegate. I am working with the other delegations around the world to promote the final outcomes of the Y20 Communique within policy-making decisions both in the public and private sector. We are currently working to plan the Y7 Summit that will be occurring next year in Washington DC since the G7 Summit will also be occurring.
Q: What types of programs are you working on now that bring awareness and promote SDGs around climate change and circular economy?
A: I am currently the United Nations Youth Ambassador to Manta Sailing Centre, an umbrella advisory organization committed to promoting, developing, inspiring, and standardizing sail sports for Vietnam, broad-based to a national team. United on behalf of Vietnam’s Olympic Committee in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport University and the National Sports University, the mission is to affiliate with regional and international sail sports federations to promote human and environmental health. I currently work with writing grants that support programs. Manta is unique in that we focus on sports diplomacy for environmental conservation. We teach water sports, such as surfing, to many of the indigenous tribes in Mui Ne, Vietnam for alternative ways to fish as well as environmental protection and cultural preservation.
MANTA’s CIRCULAR MODEL (2009-19+) Manta…
- Addresses global ocean priorities (over-fishing and biodiversity loss, pollution, and climate change.)
- Employs fishermen, taking them off fossil-fuel, off over-fishing, off endangered habitats, translating their existing ocean skills into watersports, to help service Vietnam’s growing industries of Watersports and Tourism.
- Switches fossil-fuel use to wind and muscle/paddle power, following World Sailing guidelines, modified for Vietnam (with greater safety, shorter training time, and simpler language.)
- Trains fishermen as national coaches, athletes, and managers (drawing Vietnam’s national plan for Ministry, on an International Olympic Committee scholarship, after connecting Vietnam to World Sailing, and IOC funding for national training.
- In-turn, sail-trained fishermen train large groups of school children in watersports and climate-action survival skills (in line with international curricula.)
- In-turn, large groups of up to 80 children in one morning raise awareness, connection/impact while delivering UN Global Goals, simultaneously sustaining the fishermen’s new livelihood, the national team, and MANTA’s circular model!
- Students explain more in short award-winning videos: http://bit.ly/EIS-2019, http://bit.ly/EIS– 2018, http://bit.ly/AIS-2017.
We have another program, similar to a study abroad program for elementary-age students. We teach about the Sustainability Development Goals along with the inclusivity of sports and environmental conservation.
Q: You have shared with us that your parents were refugees from Cambodia and that you have a desire to serve in a diplomatic capacity to that kingdom. What kind of sustainable projects in the area of circular economy and climate change do you see as needed there?
A: The largest need that I see there, in particular, is with infrastructure and their future of work. Currently, there are a lot of foreign investments and developments that are occurring. Workforce development and training are huge on my agenda. One of my main focuses when it comes to the case of Cambodia would be to see how can we provide technological advancements to Cambodia and protect the data and intellectual property so that the country can compete in global markets.
Vannary’s Networking Interests:
- People in the foreign policy area
- People within cybersecurity and protection of international property rights
- People from inter-governmental organizations such as the UN, WTO, World Bank, etc.