Message from the Country Director

05 May 2017

 Country Director Nick Beresford with colleagues and community members were planting mangrove trees

We are going through a period of huge global transformations, a mass emergence from poverty and towards wealth, the rise of Asia, economically and politically. And here in Cambodia we are right in the heart of it. We have seen in the last 15 years a tripling of the size of the economy and poverty being cut more than half. These are remarkable achievements. As a newly minted Lower Middle Income Country, the challenge is now to join the emergence of a new global middle class.

The size of the “global middle class” is expected to increase from 1.8 billion in 2009 to 3.2 billion by 2020 and 4.9 billion by 2030. The bulk of this growth will come from Asia: by 2030, two-thirds of the global middle class – the big engine of growth, technology and political power – will be in Asia. The challenge now is how to make that transformation a sustainable one.  To de-risk it and ensure those gains are stable.  In short, can we want a globally shared prosperity – an end to poverty – but without destroying our planet in the process?

So what is our role in UNDP? We have done some great work helping the Government develop its first Environment Code, bringing fatalities from landmines under 100 for the first time, and creating the National Council for Sustainable Development to bring the Government’s focus on the big issue of our times.

The Royal Government of Cambodia is now a $5 billion organization. It is growing so fast it more than doubles in size every five years. Aid money in contrast is gradually falling. Our budget at around $20 million makes us very small in comparison. All the more reason to ensure we invest our time and energy to support Government policy and help make that $5 billion have ever greater impact. Our future financing, like in India, China, Malaysia and elsewhere, will gradually move to domestic financing, and away from aid, so it’s even more important that we ensure we can provide the policy support that the Government demands.

I look forward to us working together in this exciting translation and together seeing a prosperous and sustainable future emerge for everybody in Cambodia.

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