Cambodia launches strategic blueprint for tackling climate change

Nov 5, 2013

Mr. Tum Heng lights up his lantern which burns on cow manure-based bio-digester outside his home in Preah Vihear province. Cambodia on 05 November launched a climate change strategic plan, a comprehensive policy guide for responses to climate change impacts. (Photo: UNDP Cambodia/Munthit Ker)

Phnom Penh – Cambodia launched on Tuesday its first-ever climate strategic blueprint aimed at building the country’s resilience to deal with climate-induced natural disasters and promoting low-carbon development in the future.

Prime Minister Hun Sen formally unveiled Cambodia Climate Change Strategic Plan (CCCSP 2014-2023) in the opening ceremony of the 3rd National Forum on Climate Change.

“Recent flooding in Cambodia which claimed many human lives, destroyed farmer crops and infrastructure, and hindered daily life of the people add new evidence to show the severity of climate change and it is now a matter of great urgency,” the prime minister said.

“This challenge requires us to urgently create an appropriate climate policy that responds to local, regional and global levels,” he added.

Cambodia is known to be among the top 10 countries that are highly vulnerable climate change effects due largely to its limited capacity to adapt. Most vulnerable are the people in the countryside, who make up some 80 percent of the total population and depend mostly on agriculture and subsistence farming to support livelihoods. Natural disasters such as drought and flood are the main threats that could push many of them back to below the poverty line.

This year’s flooding that started in mid-September have affected 20 Cambodian provinces and caused the death of 168 people. Crops and road networks have also sustained extensive damages from the flood.

The CCCSP outlines the government’s vision for promoting climate-resilient development and green growth for the next 10 years. During its mid-term period of 2014-2018, the strategy will increase focus on adaptation activities aimed at strengthening community resilience. All climate-related issues, including climate change financing framework, will also be gradually integrated into development strategy and planning at all levels – national and sub-national – as a matter of priority.

In his speech on Tuesday, H. E. Say Samal, Minister of Environment highlighted the achievements that the Ministry, the National Climate Change Committee, other government institutions, and local authorities have made so far, in close cooperation with development partners, in addressing threats posed by climate change. He said that, over the past few years, an estimated US$250 million has been mobilized to support the implementation of various climate change projects. They include 10 projects that will help reduce an estimated 2 million tons of CO2 equivalent annually.

The CCCSP, he said, “will become a comprehensive planning document for our responses to climate change” and take actions to ensure “sustainable development in the changing climate.”

In her welcome remarks, Ms. Claire Van der Vaeren, UN Resident Coordinator in Cambodia, urged that any climate response action not overlook issues concerning women, who are among the population groups most vulnerable to climate change impacts. 

“The adverse effects of climate change risk deepening existing patterns of gender inequality, threatening the livelihoods and security of women. Yet, women in the community can also be positive agents of change and crucial contributors to livelihood adaptation strategies if they have the opportunity to participate in finding solutions, and in making decisions both on setting policy and on implementing them,” Ms. Van der Vaeren said.

The CCCSP is a key milestone in the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance financed by the European Union, Sweden, Denmark, and United Nations Development Programme.