Cambodia steps up mainstreaming climate change into local development planning

Aug 21, 2014

Local council members note down on the whiteboard the adaptation solutions toward climate change during a commune planning in Cambodia. (Photo: Chansok Lay/UNDP Cambodia)

Cambodia has begun making an important step towards integrating climate change into its sub-national planning and budgeting process – a key development wherein climate change had not been previously incorporated in government’s sub-national planning policy. This move comes at a decisive time when half of Cambodia’s communes are categorized between being vulnerable to extremely vulnerable to climate viability, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

Through UNDP’s scaling up project, the government’s National Committee for management of sub-national Democratic Development (NCDD) has agreed to develop the climate change mainstreaming guideline to be implemented at the district and commune levels across the country in the future. Developing of this guideline followed the piloting activities in several provinces. The key outputs of the project are the guideline, know-how skills and mechanism that will provide modeling for local governments to develop and implement climate resilient strategy and projects. A financing mechanism will also need to be established for cohesive climate change response.

Mainstreaming climate change into sub-national planning and budgeting processes entails documenting best practices and lessons learnt from implementing community climate-resilient initiatives and expanding them from one locality to another.

 A group of women raise hands to show supports after their discussion on what the commune investment plan should include to adapt to climate change. (Photo: Chansok Lay/UNDP Cambodia)

One of those lessons learnt is a road that cuts through several communes in Ek Phnom district, Battambang province in northwestern Cambodia. Every year during rainy season, more than 2 kilometres of its stretch is flooded, hampering traffic and goods to and from other towns. The damage was repaired every dry season only to be damaged again when a nearby river swells to inundate the road. But the hazard was avoided in 2013 when climate-resilient techniques were included in the repair work, said Mr. Seng Yi, chief of a commune in Ek Phnom district where the project was piloted.

“Many people in the communes linked to this road are benefitting a lot from the improvement of its condition,” he said.

The scaling up involves a three-step process, including: 1) conducting a Vulnerability Risk Assessment (VRA); 2) planning and identifying problems; and 3) prioritizing and investing in plans. The project is being implemented in five districts in three provinces, namely Takeo, Battambang and Preah Vihear. Prioritization and investment allocation of climate-resilient projects have been completed in all five targeted districts in the three pilot provinces

UNDP is currently assisting NCDD Secretariat to develop the climate change mainstreaming guideline and the technical manual in consultation with government ministries and development partners.

“This is a key step to promote local ownership, especially the role of districts and communes to coordinate local cooperation in responding to climate consequences,” said Napoleon Navarro, UNDP Cambodia’s Deputy Country Director. “Better planning in advance and access to development investment are the best options to help rural communities avoid the worse effect of climate change and disaster,” he added. 

A core group has been officially established under the leadership of the National Committee of Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD) Secretariat. It comprises of the environment, planning, interior, finance, agriculture ministries and the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), as well as development partners including the Swedish International Development Agency, the European Union, UNDP, the UN Capital Development Fund, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.