UNDP Awarded the Royal Oder of Sahametrei

10 Jan 2017

 (Photo: H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin and Nick Beresford, UNDP Cambodia's Country Director ©RathaSoy/UNDPCambodia)

UNDP was awarded the Royal Order of Sahametrei, Tepidin Class (Commander of the Order) from the Royal Government of Cambodia for its major effort to the country’s environmental conservation and protection. The Order was founded by the late King Norodom Sihanouk in 1948. It is the highest ranking medal conferred to foreigners for their distinguished service to Cambodia.

Cambodia is undergoing impressive and rapid development; environmental protection and natural resource management have become indispensable for sustainable development. Over the past two decades, UNDP has been actively engaging with Cambodia’s government agencies, development partners, and civil society organizations in building institutional and legal framework for environment, climate change response, and biodiversity conservation (read more details here).

During the 1990s, UNDP was one of the first few partners supporting climate change actions. It began with the support to Climate Change Office/Ministry of Environment (currently known as Department of Climate Change/National Council for Sustainable Development) in building technical capacity and raising awareness of climate change. Since then, UNDP has been working with MoE through valuable financial support from development partners such as the EU and Embassy of Sweden in response to climate change. One of the significant achievements was the formulation of the national comprehensive climate change policy, so-called the Cambodia Climate Change Strategic Plan, as well as its corresponding 14 sectoral climate change strategic plans.

It is worth noting that climate change public expenditure increased from 0.9% of GDP in 2009 to 1.3% of GDP in 2014. Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, Ministry of Industrial and Handicraft, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Rural Development and Ministry of Environment are mainly responsible for this expenditure and they are amongst the 14 line agencies.

Through UNDP’s intervention, more than 300 communes across Cambodia have benefited from an integrated approach to addressing climate change. UNDP projects, for example, are being implemented to improve water access for its productive use in water shortage communities, introduce farming techniques and crops that tolerate floods and droughts, and protect and restore ecosystem.

Another notable contribution of UNDP is the environmental governance reform. As an entrusted partner in environmental protection, the Minister of Environment engaged UNDP in 2014 in the legal framework review and institutional restructuring of MoE. As a result, a new structure of the ministry was established aiming to modernize MoE. It also led to the creation of the National Council for Sustainable Development in 2015. The institutional reform is also accompanied by an important piece of legislation, so called the Environmental Code, which is expected to strengthen environmental and natural resource management after it is enacted.

These unprecedented accomplishments would not have been possible without a strong leadership of the Minister of Environment and collaboration of line agencies, as well as financial contribution from key partners such as USAID, the Government of Japan and EU.

The Royal Oder was presented to UNDP by Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Bin Chhin, on 21 December 2016 at the Annual Conference on Environment. For individuals or organisations to be awarded, they must be nominated by the government agencies. In this case, UNDP was nominated by MoE. We are honored by the prestigious recognition. However, our work does not stop here.

Currently, UNDP continues to support the vision of the Minister of Environment in environmental reform by focusing on building expertise of the MoE staff, providing technical assistance for MoE to manage its expanded jurisdictions and preparation of subsequent policies for the implementation of the Environmental Code. Other work includes building the country capacity to address climate change, exploring opportunities in green technologies (solar energy), addressing solid waste management and so on.

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