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Film premiere sheds light on the sobering truth of the world's most expensive coffee

Participants of the screening event pose together on the stage
Delegates of the event

On the 17th April 2024, our documentary 'Civet Coffee: From Rare to Reckless' was screened as part of a conservation and sustainability event held at the National University of Economics (NEU) in Hanoi. Organised by the Faculty of Environment, Climate Change, and Urban Studies in collaboration with The Civet Project Foundation, our trustee Mai Trinh offers a reflective report of the event which was attended by over 100 students, faculty staff, and NGO delegates:


On April 17, 2024, in Hanoi, a captivating documentary film premiere titled "Civet Coffee: From Rare to Reckless" brought together experts, conservationists, students, and lecturers at NEU. The event aimed to inspire and share up-to-date information on pressing issues related to wildlife protection and sustainable coffee consumption. 


Mr. Nguyen Van Thai, the Director of Save Vietnam's Wildlife (SVW) and a recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize 2021, participated in the event. Joining him were Ms. Jasmine Gould, a communications and fundraising advisor of SVW, and Ms. Trinh Thi Mai, a representative of The Civet Project Foundation. With over 100 actively engaged students and lecturers from the university, the premiere generated meaningful discussions and interactions.

NEU showcased its commitment to environmental stewardship with keen interest and participation of esteemed scholars. Giving the opening remarks, Prof. Dinh Duc Truong, the Dean of Faculty of Environment, Climate Change, and Urban Studies, emphasized on sustainable practices, the importance of wildlife protection, and promoting sustainable coffee consumption, urging society to be vigilant and responsible in their choices.



The organising committee give gifts of gratitude to guest speakers



Jes Hooper, founder of The Civet Project Foundation, gives an opening speech over zoom from the UK
Jes Hooper, founder of The Civet Project Foundation, gives an opening speech via Zoom from the UK

Adding further depth to the event, Jes Hooper, a representative of The Civet Project Foundation, shared illuminating insights into the organization's endeavours to protect civets and raise awareness about the detrimental impact of the civet coffee industry. “As our film will show, civet coffee is not an important cultural commodity in Vietnam but it is a product that puts Vietnamese environmental heritage at risk. It is only through greater awareness that we can protect civets and their habitats together, whilst promoting truly sustainable and environmentally friendly economic growth. We hope that this film will inspire further discussions on how to adapt tourism to be more sustainable, ethical and environmentally friendly for successive generations to come”, Jes Hooper highlighted.


The film premiere served as a powerful platform to shed light on the hidden truths behind the world's most expensive coffee and its ecological ramifications. Delving into the enigmatic world of the civet coffee industry, renowned for its exorbitant prices and distinctive flavours, the film peeled back the layers to reveal a darker reality concerning animal welfare and the sustainability of this production.



A 30 minute document screening was followed by a panel discussion and Q&A

Tracing the origins of civet coffee, the documentary led viewers on a journey from civet coffee’s origin during Dutch colonization 300 years ago to the evolution of a global industry. It meticulously depicted the production process, the risks to animal welfare, species population survival and human health. Unveiling the harsh living conditions endured by civets in confined spaces with limited food and healthcare, the film shed light on the potential issues for the animals’ health and zoonotic disease spillover.


While provoking contemplation on the sustainability of the civet coffee industry, the film also presented potential solutions to ensure animal welfare and environmental protection. Moreover, a call to action emerged as viewers were urged to sign a petition requesting TripAdvisor to issue warnings about animal welfare at all civet coffee tourist destinations.


Following the screening, a Mini Talk show entitled "Say No to civet coffee: the stories of conservationists and the importance of wildlife protection" took place. Mr. Nguyen Van Thai, Ms. Jasmine Gould, and Prof. Dinh Duc Truong were guest speakers. The speakers shared their remarkable experiences in wildlife conservation and put forth actionable solutions to transform consumer behaviour in relation to civet coffee, with a focus on promoting sustainable coffee consumption. 



Student questions are directed to Save Vietnam's Wildlife

  

A dynamic Q&A session took place between the guest speakers and the students, generating engaging discussions. One noteworthy question raised by a student pertained to the economic advantages of wildlife farming, specifically focusing on civet farms, for the farmers involved. The guest speakers offered a comprehensive response to the question. Mr. Thai emphasized, "Civet farming only benefits a small group of individuals, and the economic gains are not particularly substantial. However, the impacts of these farms on animal welfare, species preservation, and human health are of utmost importance."



Students are awarded prizes for their participation


During the event, the final round of the competition titled "Why Shouldn't We Use Civet Coffee?" took place, featuring the participation of student groups. Two outstanding commentaries were awarded well-deserved prizes.

  

Concluding the screening, Prof. Dinh Duc Truong expressed his delight in welcoming the visiting guests and their valuable insights shared at the National Economics University. In his closing speech, the professor once again emphasized the importance of increasing awareness regarding the negative impacts of the civet coffee industry while encouraging all participants to join in safeguarding wildlife and the environment.



Special thanks go to Mai Trinh, for coordinating the organisation of this important event and for her written report of it's success.

Mai holds an Erasmus Mundus International Master degree in Applied Ecology and has 6 years’ experience working in conservation field for both national and international NGOs.


She is currently working for the Saving Threatened Wildlife project, WWF in Viet Nam and is a member of IUCN SSC Small Carnivore Specialist Group.

Mai has research experience in wildlife farming, civet coffee, small carnivore biodiversity surveying and virtual and physical wildlife trade.

 






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