Mapping Nature for People and Planet in Cambodia: A Project to Create ‘Maps of Hope’

June 8, 2021

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Cambodia’s General Directorate of Environmental Knowledge and Information are bringing decision makers together to map the country’s essential regions for biodiversity, climate change mitigation, and sustainable development.

Phnom Penh, 08 June 2021 – This week in Cambodia, nearly 50 of the country’s leading scientists and environmental policy experts will meet virtually to create ‘maps of hope’ that identify Cambodia’s essential life support areas. These maps will locate where actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore nature can enable Cambodia to deliver on its strategic priorities around biodiversity, climate change mitigation, and sustainable development.

Humanity faces an unprecedented planetary challenge. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, we have only a decade to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change. Furthermore, the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) confirms that if biodiversity loss continues at its current rate, one million species will be at risk of extinction. The effects of climate change and biodiversity loss will likely be felt far and wide, posing two of the greatest threats to humanity per the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report.

However, we have the solution within our reach. By protecting, restoring, or sustainably managing nature, we can provide one-third of the solution to mitigate climate change, improve water security, and safeguard the livelihoods of millions of people directly dependent on nature for their subsistence.

“Thriving biodiversity is a critical component to achieving our goals around sustainable development and climate change. Trees clean our air, provide us with timber, and regulate the climate. Our mangrove forests buffer our country’s coastline from disastrous storms, and our endemic species, and pristine landscapes support our tourism sector. Cambodia has ambitious goals to protect, manage, and restore nature to enhance human wellbeing, including those in the National Environmental Strategy and Action Plan 2016-2023 and the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs). But to achieve these goals, we recognize the need to enhance our application of spatial data,” said H.E. Chuop Paris, Director General of the General Directorate of Environmental Knowledge and Information, Ministry of Environment.

Cambodia, along with the other seven pilot countries (Dominican Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Peru and Uganda), are creating create a ‘maps of hope’ developed to expand the use of spatial data in decision-making processes and promote the implementation of nature-based solutions in-country. The outcomes from this initiative will be used by the Department of GIS, stakeholders and partners to scale up action for nature globally.

Over the coming months, 196 countries will agree on a new set of global goals for biodiversity that will guide action for the next 30 years and an associated international policy framework. The results of this project will be used to influence key international policy processes, including activities related to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“Fast-growing middle-income countries like Cambodia can leapfrog ahead in know how to use more powerful tools to identify and safeguard their valuable natural resources. Protecting these invaluable natural assets is essential for ensuring Cambodia continues to have greater security in food and water in the years ahead and can help the country better withstand global heating,” said Nick Beresford, UNDP Resident Representative.

The workshop is led by UNDP and the General Directorate of Environmental Knowledge and Information of Cambodia’s Ministry of the Environment with the support of Impact Observatory and the Sustainable Markets Foundation.


For media inquiries, please contact Im Samruol, UNDP Cambodia’s Head of Communications, at

UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet. Learn more at or follow us at @UNDPCambodia.