Greater efficiency needed in actions against climate change

Nov 7, 2013

Phnom Penh – Government officials on Thursday called for greater programme and funding coordination in order to improve effectiveness in tackling climate change in Cambodia.

“In a situation where resources are scarce and demand is high, strong coordination is fundamental for effective climate change responses among Government, development partners, civil society, academia and the private sector,” H.E. Sabo Ojano, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Environment, said.

He was speaking at the closing day of the National Forum on Climate Change on Thursday. The three-day event was highlighted by the launch of the Cambodia Climate Change Strategic Plan (CCCSP), the first-ever national planning reference to guide climate change responses in the country. H.E. Sabo Ojano also emphasized the important role of public-private partnership in implementing climate responses, saying the government “is committed to building an enabling environment for a meaningful participation of the private sector in both mitigation and adaptation responses.”

The launch of CCCSP also marked a key milestone of the work undertaken by Cambodia Climate Change Alliance (CCCA), a joint programme funded by the European Union, Sweden, Denmark, and United Nations Development Programme.

Jean-François Cautain, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Cambodia, described the CCCA as a “harmonised and cost effective initiative” to support Cambodian government’s efforts to address climate change impacts.

“In Cambodia, primary energy consumption as well as CO2 emissions at least doubled over the past ten years, representing one major challenge for the national energy policy,” he said, highlighting the importance of the national policy on energy efficiency to mitigate the adverse effects of energy consumption on the environment.

Increase in activities aimed reducing greenhouse gases is a goal the CCCSP has outlined for the next five years, its mid-term period for action. It also says that another key focus during this period is having more “adaptation activities” geared toward improving the lives and resilience of people living in rural communities. Making up more than 80 percent of the population, they depend largely on subsistence farming, which is often affected by drought and flood. One persistent challenge facing the rural families is the lack of irrigation system for farming. According to CCCSP, only 7 to 8 percent of 3.3 million hectares of arable land is adequately irrigated, 10 percent is covered by both irrigation and rain, and the remaining 80 percent rely completely on rainwater. In this context, the strategy says, more investment on improving irrigation system will be needed for Cambodia to realize its goal of 5 percent growth annually in the agricultural output, namely rice, to meet export target in 2030.

“For a developing country like Cambodia, which has recently been ranked among the top 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change, securing the required financing for climate change adaptation will be crucial,” H.E. Ros Seilava, Under Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said in his speech on Thursday. But in order to make the best use of financial resources, he said climate response actions must be gradually transformed from the current practice of “stand-alone” projects to be more program-based approach in the future.

“This will help orient domestic resources and donor support towards those investments that provide the best economic and social benefits. We should target that in ten years’ time, we will not have separate funding mechanisms or projects for climate change,” H.E. Ros Seilava said.