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By Rebecca Smith
29 March 2023

The classroom is a hive of activity. Dozens of young students buzz through the room, excitedly sharing facts, taking notes and drawing pictures. The subject today is a small but powerful one: the humble bee, and the teacher is 16-year-old Panha. Panha is the young woman behind a revolutionary program aimed at protecting and restoring threatened populations of Cambodia’s bees by educating and empowering students across the country.

"Cambodian native bees are declining, and the world is facing the same issue. Like me, many other people in Cambodia don’t know much about bees… that’s why I want to help others understand the importance of these animals," Panha says.

students in a classroom with Panha
Panha’s project inspires other young people in classrooms across Cambodia.
© UNICEF Cambodia/ 2022/ Sells

Panha is one of 15 young people who have been selected for UNICEF Cambodia’s Generation Future program; an initiative that supports young minds to launch big ideas through seed funding, training, and guidance from expert mentors.

With the support of Generation Future, Panha and her team of volunteers have reached more than 300 students in six Cambodian provinces with workshops that educate students about the impact of declining bee populations on ecosystems and agriculture, and the simple things they can do to protect these small but critical pollinators. Through this program, Panha hopes to inspire children and young people to start important conversations with their families and communities about bees and the environment.

"I didn't have the opportunity to pursue my interest about bees and the environment until UNICEF Generation Future. "

Panha, 16

Since joining Generation Future, Panha has been awarded the international bestseller foundation’s Young Environment Ambassador Award for her project’s contribution to the environment. The $5,000 USD prize money will go towards achieving her goal to grow the program and reach even more young minds across Cambodia.

“I didn’t have the opportunity to pursue my interest about bees and the environment until UNICEF Generation Future… the training has helped me to build my confidence. Now I can teach students on a subject I am passionate about. Programs like this help those students who have amazing ideas - which can make a huge impact - to actually implement the idea they think will make a better Cambodia,” says Panha. 

By empowering young people to have a voice on issues that matter to them, and providing them with leadership and life skills, we are helping to grow a generation that is skilled to create sustainable economies and peaceful societies for the future.

Meet Generation Future

The impact of Generation Future

Cambodia has one of the youngest populations in the world, with historically few opportunities for young people to have a say in decisions that impact their future. Programs like Generation Future are part of a growing movement to raise young voices and empower a new generation of Cambodian leaders.

Generation Future connects participants with expert mentors who offer technical advice and guidance, and provides them with training in important project management skills like project design, budgeting, marketing and social media. This training and support helps students to build, grow and raise the profile of their projects.

Since Generation Future began in 2021, more than 20,000 supporters have been reached through Generation Future participant's online, awareness-raising campaigns.

Generation Future is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).


children and young people have engaged with Generation Future since 2021


supporters reached through Generation Future's online, awareness-raising campaigns.

Building sustainable futures for children close to home

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