Nguy Thi Khanh

  • Country: Vietnam
  • Cohort: 2019
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Nguy Thi Khanh is remarkable not only in the scope and scale of her vision, but also in her proven ability to be an incredibly effective leader in a challenging social and political context. She stands out as one of few strong women leaders in Vietnam helping launch a paradigm shift within the power sector—an industry that is often slow and reluctant to change.

Data from the Global Climate Risk Index showed Vietnam was ranked as the sixth most negatively climate-affected country in the world in the period from 1999 to 2018. “I’ve been working on renewable energy and climate issues since 2007,” Khanh said in a conversation with Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Southeast Asia. “I think renewables and energy efficiency are the optimal solutions to climate change.”

Breakthrough Idea

Accelerate a just transition towards renewable energy in Vietnam’s power sector and elevate the experience to catalyze a comprehensive clean energy movement in Southeast Asia.

In 2011, the Vietnamese government published its Power Development Plan for 2011-2020 with an outlook to 2030, calling for 75,000 megawatts of coal-fired power by 2030. The following year, Khanh founded the Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID), an NGO that promotes sustainable development in Vietnam.

Bringing together scientists, experts, media, and civil society, Khanh and GreenID have been able to help key leaders and the public increase their understanding of the health and community risks of coal while highlighting another path forward through clean energy and energy efficiency. In 2018, she became the first Vietnamese to receive a Goldman Environmental Prize.

“The Southeast Asia region has a lot of potential for solar, on-land, and offshore wind. We also have a lot of avenues for collaboration in this region to accelerate the energy transition,” she said.

Upon receiving a Climate Breakthrough Award in 2019, Khanh focused her resources on developing a campaign to ensure key enabling conditions are put in place to help support the rapid scaling of a clean and just renewable energy industry in Vietnam.

Those conditions included enacting supportive policies for renewables and electric vehicles, building an ecosystem of green financing options, and supporting the creation of the human and physical capacity needed to support a thriving clean energy market. Additionally, Khanh knew it was equally important to raise awareness among the public and decision-makers that clean energy and energy efficiency can reliably power Vietnam’s growing economy as well as reduce air pollution to safeguard public health.

“The energy transition is inevitable; it’s happening everywhere. It takes efforts to take advantage of this trend and requires governments to strengthen their targets for renewable energy,” she said. 


Nguy Thi Khanh is the founder and current leader of GreenID, a non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting sustainable development in Vietnam. A trusted convener and consensus builder, she established the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance, a network of 11 Vietnamese and international environmental organizations that collaborate on regional energy issues.

Recognized globally for her efforts, Khanh was named one of the “World’s 100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy” by Apolitical in 2019. Before her leadership at GreenID, Khanh served as the Deputy Director of the Center for Water Resources Conservation and Development (WARECOD) from 2008 to 2011. 

She also worked as a project coordinator at the Centre for Sustainable Community Development (S-CODE) from 2005 to 2007, where she laid the foundation for her ongoing commitment to sustainable development and environmental protection.

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