Vietnamese activist Khanh Nguy Thi knew early on that depending on coal to meet the country’s growing demand for energy would be a disaster for its people and the environment. She also knew that listening to women in the villages, and involving government officials in the conversation, were key to a greener future for the Southeast Asian country. It was Khanh’s combination of collaboration and pragmatism that helped convince Vietnam to rewrite its energy plan to reduce its dependency on coal, even as other activists in the region have struggled to make an impact. “Energy is important for economic development, and it also has a huge impact on the environment and the people. But there was very little involvement of the civil society in the government’s energy plans,” said Khanh. “Particularly women, who are also affected, but were not being heard, as decisions are made by men – it is important to listen to them,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.