The new Human Development Report from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Cambodia highlights the importance of environmental sustainability for achieving economic growth and development in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, 21 November 2019 – Cambodia’s rapid development over the past 30 years has led it to rank in the top 10 globally, and second in Asia and the Pacific, on the ‘rate of improvement,’ in the Human Development Index.  

Today, more Cambodians than ever before have access to roads, energy, better public services, and new economic and employment opportunities, says Cambodia’s new Human Development Report, launched today by UNDP.

In order to sustain and maximize growth over the long run, environmental sustainability must be integrated into the economy, says the report. Rapid population growth and urbanization are putting growing pressure on Cambodia’s ecosystems, resulting in environmental degradation, and a loss of ecosystem services and biodiversity.

A majority of Cambodians, about 80 percent of the population, live and work in rural areas, relying mainly on agriculture. Forest resources and activities provide an important safety net for these rural communities, especially women and the poor, as they provide an alternative source of income. This deep connection between the economy and the environment puts Cambodia in a unique position to illustrate that human development can go hand in hand with environmental sustainability.

The 2019 report was launched by UNDP in Phnom Penh along with H.E. Say Samal, Minister of Environment, and H.E. Dr. Keo Omaliss, Director General of the Forestry Administration.

In her speech at the event, Ms. Valerie Cliff, UNDP’s Deputy Assistant Administrator, Officer-in-Charge, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific and Director, Bangkok Regional Hub, said “the focus of this Human Development Report is to show the potential of future development pathways that promote the integration of human development and environmental sustainability alongside rapid economic progress.”

The report shares several recommendations for promoting better natural resource management throughout the country. Key measures include: establishing clear and secure ownership of natural resources; mobilizing funds to protect natural ecosystems; empowering local people to better manage the resources they depend on; and promoting sustainable natural resource products and alternative livelihood opportunities.

The report underlines the longer term environmental and development benefits of sustainability for climate change adaptation and mitigation. It adds that this can result in significant national human development outcomes, build resilience to shocks, and secure progress throughout Cambodia.

In conclusion, the report reiterates that rural communities are important agents for sustainability, and that they need to be empowered to meet their needs and help improve human development by engaging in sustainable natural resource management.


For media inquiries or interviews, please contact Mr. Im Samruol, Communications Analyst at UNDP Cambodia, through

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