Thanh Khai Lam from Vietnam is a master student Environmental Sciences. He applied for the Anne van den Ban Fund at the final period of his first year in Wageningen.
“My mother developed back problems that kept her from work. She has a business in sowing machines for bags of rice and fertilizer, plus a maintenance service. For my first year in Wageningen, she already got a bank loan and help from friends. So I already was very careful with my money. That she couldn’t run her business and had little to no income, seemed to shut the door to graduation.”
“From a fellow student I heard about the Anne van den Ban Fund. Finally I submitted a request for funding. When I received the e-mail that would give a decisive answer about my application, I didn’t dare to open it. I was so afraid of a rejection. When I read that the ABF would help me to finish my study, I almost threw my laptop in the air. I was so happy.”
“The main fosus of my study are mangrove forests, a natural coastal protection. I grew up in Ho Chi Minh City. Climate change and the sea level rise will cause more and more flooding in that area. During my bachelor in biotechnology in Vietnam, I researched the CO2 deposition in the mangrove forest. If you pay local people for this CO2 deposition and forest conservation, they will start to recognize the benefits of the mangrove forests, and not convert it into agricultural land. That’s where sciences affects people’s lives.”
“This encouraged me to start to look for financial mechanisms to protect and manage the mangrove forest. I wanted to evolve my ideas on this topic and test them in new environments. In Europe, which I consider the heart of the world, you can meet people from all over the world. And that’s how I ended up in Wageningen.”
“For my thesis, I did an economic valuation of aquaculture and fisheries in an Indonesian mangrove forest for a larger mangrove restoration project. During my internship, I want to focus on mangroves and coastal protection. After graduation, I would like to return to Vietnam and work in such a coast protection project. Even though there’s still so much to learn. But I only want to do a PhD research when it considers Vietnam, as I would like to contribute to my country. At the same time, I realize that having only a master might be insufficient for policy advising. So I must try to obtain more knowledge and experience at some organisation. If I do my best and get results, I still might be able to advise local policymakers. I really want to work on rehabilitation of the mangrove forest along the Vietnam coast.”
“A short film of the Wageningen company Plant-e also inspired me. They try to obtain electricity from plants. This might be very applicable in the mangrove with its brackish water. People next to the forest now often lack electricity and light at night. Yet another example that shows the importance of applying knowledge and science.”