Country Director’s remarks at the Second National Seminar on Climate Change Adaptation within the Coastal Zone of Cambodia

25 Mar 2014

Welcome remarks for the Second National Seminar
on Climate Change Adaptation within the Coastal Zone of Cambodia

by Ms. Setsuko Yamazaki, Country Director, UNDP Cambodia

25th March 2014

His Excellency Dr. Say Samal, Minister of Environment

Excellencies;

Development Partners;

Honorable guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the development partners supporting the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance, it is my privilege to welcome you to the second national seminar on climate change adaptation within the coastal zone of Cambodia.

Cambodia’s coastal zone is one of the most vulnerable areas to climate change impacts in the country.  In 2006 it was identified as the top priority for adaptation in the National Adaptation Programme of Actions. The recently launched Cambodia Climate Change Strategic Plan further emphasizes the vulnerability of the 435 kilometers of Cambodia’s coastline to climate change impacts, particularly due to sea-level rises and the increased frequency of typhoons in future climate projections.  

An analysis of sea level rise impacts on coastal areas in Cambodia in the draft Second National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change indicates that over 38,000 hectares of land will be permanently inundated by a sea level rise of two meters, and about 25,000 hectares by a one meter rise in Cambodia by 2100.  This could severely affect the tourism industry which contributes significantly to Cambodia’s GDP, and is expected to create over 700,000 new jobs by 2018. Therefore, it is crucial that measures are put in place to minimize these impacts of climate change. With support from donors, and in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme, the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance programme has supported the implementation of climate change adaptation pilots in the coastal areas to address these vulnerabilities, however more work needs to be done.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

Over the next two days, lessons and good practices from this collaboration will be shared with relevant stakeholders from national and sub-national levels with the intent to identify future initiatives for climate change adaptation within the coastal zone of Cambodia. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a few thoughts as we collaborate to protect the Cambodia’s coastline.

First, it is important to ensure that lessons learnt from adaptation pilots in target communes are effectively fed into relevant national and sub-national policies and plans. This will require a dedicated engagement strategy between existing coastal zone projects and the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, and the National Committee for Sub-national Democratic Development (NCDD). For instance, the National Committee for Sub-national Democratic Development is leading an on-going initiative on climate change mainstreaming at the sub-national level. Lessons learnt from the methodology applied in the coastal zone should ideally feed into this process.

Second, we should seek to draw lessons learnt on engaging appropriate levels of government for each type of adaptation action or analysis. Some analyses and actions can be done at the commune level, others require broader capacities or perspectives, and therefore need engagement of provincial or national governments. Having a clear land management plan covering the whole coastal zone that takes into account climate change impacts would be particularly useful.

Finally, as we move forward to formulate recommendations for future support to coastal areas, I would like to emphasize the critical role of the National Committee for Management and Development of the Cambodian Coastal Areas, and the need for this Committee to be operational, with support from the member ministries. In particular, the Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction as Chair, the Ministry of Environment as Deputy Chair and the Ministry of Tourism as Permanent Deputy Chair need to play key roles in the National Committee’s activities.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

Together with key partners, in particular the European Union and Sweden, the United Nations Development Programme has placed climate change high on the national development support agenda. We are committed to partnering across sectors to continue providing support to the government to improve coordination, enhance awareness and understanding about climate change, and mobilize technical and financial resources to address capacity development needs, and policy and institutional gaps.

We have assembled in this room today an extraordinary group of policy makers and field practitioners including government representatives, researchers, civil society representatives and community leaders. I hope that over the next two days the above points will be taken into consideration as you discuss the lessons and experiences learnt so far, and identify future support to the coastal areas of Cambodia.

I would like to conclude my remarks today with a reference to the Cambodia Climate Change Strategic Plan’s vision that Cambodia develops toward a green, low-carbon, climate-resilient, equitable, sustainable and knowledge-based society. Let us establish and strengthen here, the concrete partnerships that we need to realize this vision for Cambodia.

Thank you.