Excellency Tin Ponlok, Secretary of State of Ministry of Environment,
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to join you for the opening ceremony of the Cambodia Energy Efficiency competition.
Together with the European Union Delegation and the Government of Sweden, our partners in the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance, and with the National Council for Sustainable Development represented today by HE Tin Ponlok, we have put in place a grant facility to support innovative ideas for boosting climate change adaptation and mitigation in Cambodia. This competition is part of the mentioned grant facility which supported so far 11 innovative projects over the past two years.
Let me share with you some of the key reasons why we are excited about this project:
First, it is focused on an issue of major importance for Cambodia, both from a climate change perspective and from an economic perspective. Energy is key for sustainable development. Sustainable Development Goal #7, which focuses on ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services, is interconnected with all other Sustainable Development Goals. Recognizing these linkages is important for attaining these goals. Moreover, with the historic Paris Agreement on working together to reduce the speed of climate change, it is now time to act! Delivering on SDG7 is a cornerstone for this ambition. The International Energy Agency estimates that energy efficiency actions could deliver as much as 40% reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions needed to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
Energy efficiency is one of these climate actions that also deliver immediate economic and financial benefits. Reducing energy footprint and energy consumption saves money that could be invested at the country level but also at the consumer’s level elsewhere.
The Government of Cambodia has taken commendable steps in this respect. We are pleased to see the progress achieved so far on the development of a National Energy Efficiency Policy (NEEP), and we hope it will be approved soon. We were also pleased to see energy efficiency targets included for the first time in Cambodia’s Nationally Determined contribution submitted last year to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Paris’ parent agreement.
Second, the competition proposes a new approach for engaging youth in an engaging manner to achieve behavioral change. UNDP has been increasingly using “gamification” to push behavior change for the SDGs. Most recently, gamification has been used to counter COVID-19 misinformation, for example, in India and Timor-Leste. This change in mindset and practices will be crucial for achieving a much needed and unprecedented transition to low carbon development. Universities have a crucial role in shaping values and behaviors of future generations.
We are pleased to see the Institute of Technology of Cambodia partnering with Sevea for this competition, with the objective to gradually increase the size of the competition and stimulate behavioral change at a larger scale.
We believe that every initiative needs its pioneers. I am really pleased to be here today with all of you, representatives of a wide range of businesses and organizations who have learnt from the recent pandemic and are showing amazing leadership to put low carbon development at the heart of economic recovery in Cambodia.
Third, UNDP walks the talk. Our programmatic initiatives promote green, inclusive and resilient socio-economic recovery and building forward better, through supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation, energy efficiency (ex. Development of an Energy Efficiency Code for Buildings with Ministry of Mines and Energy, and a roadmap for climate resilient buildings and construction with the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, and UNEP), energy access (off-grid solar energy in remote rural areas), LNOB.
With Ministry of Economy and Finance, we are also looking into potential financing instruments to support energy efficiency actions. This includes a readiness study exploring the potential of setting a revolving fund for energy efficiency.
However, all starts at home! In our own office, we are going through the final steps to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification (LEED), which covers operations and Maintenance of our premises and assets. UNDP offices will be the first premises to receive that special certification under existing buildings category in Cambodia. As some of you may know, UNDP office is also partly powered by solar energy, and we have renewed our transport fleet to include electric vehicles. Our fleet comprise electric cars and motorbikes, powered by our rooftop solar panels for cleaner mobility. These efforts are part of the UNDP Moonshot initiative, launched in 2019, with very ambitious targets committing to reduce GHG emissions from UNDP global operations by 25% by 2025 and 50% by 2030.
Finally, I want to thank you all for your commitment to leading the way on energy efficiency in Cambodia, and I look forward to hearing about your successes. We will be at your side to support innovation and behavioral change at the scale that Cambodia needs to realize its vision of a low carbon, competitive, and resilient socio-economic development.