Over 100 delegates from 10 ASEAN countries, along with three of the group’s partners, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, attended a ceremony to launch the 2012 ASEAN Environment Year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 17-18.

This year’s event themed ‘Environmental Awareness through Eco-Schools’ focused on the role schools play in improving the awareness of their pupils on the importance of protecting the environment and conserving nature.

At the opening ceremony, Malaysia ’s Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Douglas Uggah Embas, said that schools foster and form the thought processes that constantly question accepted norms and standards for wise resource use and sustainability.

He said he hopes there will be more regular exchanges of information on environmental issues and a higher level of cooperation during the 2012 ASEAN Environment Year, to ensure the environment is protected in a sustainable manner and natural resources are managed efficiently.

To highlight the occasion, the 2012 ASEAN Eco-Schools Award was presented to 20 schools around ASEAN, including two from Vietnam, for educating their pupils on environmental protection and promoting environmentally friendly activities.

Truong Thi Cam Tu, Vice-Principal of the Hanoi-based Thuc Nghiem Primary School , said it is a great honour for the school to receive the noble award in recognition of its efforts to create a clean and pleasant learning environment.

Le Mai Anh, the Vice-Principal of Chu Van An Secondary School, also in Hanoi, said the award confirms the 100 year old school’s standing on environmental protection, not only at home but also across the region. She added that the school will always be seen as the capital city’s green lung.-VNA