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Bangkok Post Article:

Project Mukdahan shines in cameo showing on world stage. High school initiative covered at UN website

Porpot Changyawa Thursday September 5th 2002

An environmental project by high school students in Mukdahan province was featured by the Earth Summit on Sustainable Development, which ended yesterday in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The project, aimed at creating a sustainable hotel business, was showcased at www.virtualexhibit.net, a joint website of the UN Development Programme and Business Action for Sustainable Development.

The site provides a multi-media overview of development projects around the globe, as well as highlights of the two-week summit. Under ``Project Mukdahan,'' the country's first development project to be presented in English, students were asked to observe the management of a local hotel and identify changes that could benefit the environment.

"The 30-minute [telephone] interview I had with UN staff was barely enough to tell them about everything we did,'' said Supannee Ariyamukda, who gave a report on the two-year project.

The more than 90 students who participated in the project put forward suggestions on improving water and electricity consumption, waste management and hygiene during their seven-day survey of the hotel. "We bombarded them [the hotel staff] with negative comments,'' said Kunchanit Roupdee, one of the students involved.

The students reported their findings to their colleagues, teachers and staff from EON Foundation, which co-founded the project, before revisiting the hotel to check on its progress in implementing their ideas.

Suggestions adopted by the hotel included switching to energy-saving light bulbs and producing fertiliser from organic litter.

Students involved in the project said they had gained a better understanding of the challenges facing businesses looking to become more environmentally friendly.

"It wasn't the hotel we aimed to change, it was the students,'' said Graham Harper of EON Foundation. ``They now realise there are three factors at play in sustainable development - economic, social and environmental.''



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