Remarks by UNDP Cambodia's Country Director at the Official Launch of the Environmental Governance Reform (EGR) ProjectOct 11, 2016
Excellency Mr. Say Samal, Minister of Environment, and Chair of the National Council for Sustainable Development;
Mr. William A. Heidt, US Ambassador;
Mr Takahisa Tsugawa, Chargés d'Affaires ad interim, Embassy of Japan;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is my great honour to welcome you all to the launching of the Environmental Governance Reform project (EGR) with presence of Excellency Say Samal, Minister of Environment, Ambassador Heidt and Mr. Tsugawa.
Cambodia has been posting steady economic growth. This sustained economic performance led the country to achieve lower middle-income country status in July this year. It is now time to pursue quality of development commensurate with the progress towards economic prosperity, so as to achieve growth that is sustainable and that does not compromise overall human well-being, and the natural and cultural resources of future generations. Sustainable management of natural resources and environment are integral elements of future development pathways.
At the same time Cambodia is going through a demographic dividend period. This refers to ”the economic growth potential that can result from shifts in a population’s age structure, mainly when the share of the working-age population is larger the non-working age share of the population.” The country with a young population has this advantage to boost its economy. However, what we need to remember is that the demographic dividend period is a one time opportunity in the development path and this is the time to invest for the future, putting institutions and systems in place. Institutional reforms, coding and laws are important building blocks of such institutional building for long term sustainable development.
The environmental reform agenda initiated by the Royal Government of Cambodia, under the leadership of H.E. Minister Say Samal, sets the right pathway towards sustainable development. The reforms would create enabling institutional mechanisms and regulatory frameworks to enforce high environmental standards and to promote sustainable development. This environment governance reform project supports the Government’s efforts in putting in place institutional reform and an environmental code.
UNDP’s support for environmental governance reform began in early 2014 focusing initially on modernization of the Ministry of Environment (MoE). This engagement has contributed to the new structure of the Ministry and the establishment of the National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD). To bring the reform agenda forward, the Environmental Governance Reform (EGR) project idea was formulated in collaboration with the MoE and NCSD. And USAID, the Embassy of Japan through the Japan-UNDP partnership fund, and UNEP through the EU Switch Asia Programme offered their generous support for the project. This project has been initiated in May 2015 and is currently at its early stage of implementation. It comprises four main activities: 1) providing continued support to MoE modernization; 2) strengthening NCSD; 3) developing the Environmental Code; and 4) the establishment of integrated ecosystem mapping.
Through the development of an Environmental Code, the reform is expected to provide overarching principles and a legal framework to guide implementation of existing laws, in order to achieve sustainable natural resource management and development. Through the support for the integrated ecosystem mapping, existing data on environment and development will be consolidated to assist national level land use planning and decisions for sustainable landscape management.
Last but not least, I would like to highlight that the effort of the country under this environmental reform agenda will help protect the livelihoods of the poor. It will assist the country to achieve the “no one left behind” principle of the Sustainable Development Goals and contribute to the country’s commitment towards SDG17 on environment.
Today’s workshop marks the start of the project, and the crossing of another milestone in the long reform journey of the Government. I would like to thank Mr. Say Samal, Minister of Environment and chair of the NCSD, Ambassador Heidt of the US Embassy, Mr. Tsugawa, of the Embassy of Japan, UNEP and the EU Switch Asia programme, line ministries, development partners, civil society organisations and all colleagues who supported the formulation of the project. We look forward to working together to strengthen institutions creating sustainable development pathways for the present and future generations in Cambodia.