Welcome Remarks by Ms. Alissar Chaker, UNDP Cambodia Resident Representative
Launch of the Cambodia SDG Investor Map
August 31, 2022
- H.E. Ros Seilava, Secretary of State, Ministry of Economy and Finance;
- Ms. Koh Lin-Net, Director of the Centre for Impact Investing and Practices, Temasek Trust;
- Excellencies, distinguished guests, and esteemed colleagues;
A very good morning.
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Launch of the Cambodia SDG Investor Map. This work is part of a package of initiatives supported by UNDP and the UN in general to develop a more comprehensive and fit-for-purpose national financing framework that synergizes public and private finances for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2030 Agenda is not a UN or a government agenda; it concerns all the society. Indeed, sustainable development requires concerted efforts. This is the main premise behind the SDG Investor Map which aims to increase essential contributions by the private sector to national development.
In April of this year, UNDP Cambodia, together with the UNDP SDG Finance Hub, launched the SDG Impact Standards, to provide businesses and investors with guidelines and best practices to integrate sustainability and the SDGs into the core of their management systems and decision-making processes. As we launch the Cambodia SDG Investor Map today, I am pleased to see participants from key ministries and the private sector joining us once again, and I very much look forward to working with you to expand efforts towards accelerating sustainable development in Cambodia.
The need for SDG financing has grown more pressing than ever. The UN estimated in 2018 that achieving the SDGs by 2030 will require overcoming a yearly US$3.3 - $4.5 trillion financing gap. Closing this gap is critical not only for Cambodia’s efforts to achieve the SDGs, but also for the country’s ambition to reach upper-middle-income status and build resilience amidst global crises. The current global economic slowdown is placing further stress on public finance making it more urgent to identify innovative financing mechanisms and leverage capital markets to synergize government and private sector efforts and generate additional resources. The business case for achieving the SDGs is strong worldwide and particularly in Asia, where more than 40 percent of the $12 trillion in global business opportunities is estimated to be located (data of 2017).
The 2021 Development Finance Assessment for Cambodia highlighted the country’s shift from dependence on overseas development assistance for development financing to domestic revenue, which is a key prerequisite for graduation from least-developed country status. This is important not only in the context of Cambodia’s ambition to becoming an upper-middle-income country but is also critical to mitigate the effects of existing and emerging global crises. The COVID-19 pandemic has reversed development gains and the recent impacts of the Russia-Ukraine conflict which continues to evolve will likely also have lasting effects on development prospects and the financial landscape.
The private sector already plays an important role in achieving the SDGs, but its contributions are often silent and unnoticed. This role is critical should Cambodia succeed in attaining its progress aspirations. Leveraging strategic financing decisions and capital markets is needed to unlock resources and channel them where they are most needed, and where they can have the greatest impact.
Given the significant opportunity and need for private sector involvement in achieving the SDGs, creating a platform that provides country-level data and insights to inform private investors on economically viable investment opportunities and business models that also advance sustainable development is crucial. The Cambodia SDG Investor Map was developed in response to this need.
The map identifies Investment Opportunity Areas (IOAs) that are aligned with development needs and priorities and have the potential for private sector participation and scalability. It is posted in the global SDG Investor Platform with another 22 Maps developed in other countries, including China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia in the Asian region.
Today’s presenters will elaborate further on the Map and the identified Investment Opportunity Areas in Cambodia; however, I would like to highlight several few points:
- First, the Map was designed to be used as a public good for both private investors and the government to facilitate productive and SDG-aligned capital deployment. The market intelligence generated by the Map serves to benefit private sector investors looking to invest sustainably, and with confidence that the sectors identified are supported by the Government’s development priorities. It will further serve as a foundation for discussions surrounding policy-level measures to strengthen the investing ecosystem.
- Second, the Map offers important insights based on data collection and 94 interviews and discussions with public and private sector stakeholders. Through this rigorous process, it has identified 15 Investment Opportunity Areas (IOAs) in Cambodia. These areas fall under six key sectors: education, healthcare, financial services, agriculture and allied industries, infrastructure, and renewable energy. The 15 IOAs all have strong development impact potential, promise robust commercial returns, and offer well-defined and predictable investment timeframes.
- Finally, 10 so-called ‘white spaces’ are identified by the Map, as areas that have the potential for development impact, but which currently see low participation from the private sector due to policy or regulatory considerations. These areas span across the education, agriculture and related industries, infrastructure, renewable energy, and tourism sectors. These ‘white spaces’ point to the need for developing market ecosystems that encourage private sector participation.
We hope that the SDG Investor Map will inform and support private investors – including funds, financial institutions, corporations, and foundations – to invest in opportunities and businesses that accelerate the achievement of the Cambodia SDGs. I am confident that this map will also contribute to an increase in participation from the private sector in responsible and sustainable investment.
I would like to conclude by emphasizing that success depends on the continued dialogue among policymakers, development partners, and the private sector – to stimulate further action, facilitate exchange of best practices, and inform policies that support and the upscale and replication of successful business models and innovative financing mechanisms.
UNDP will continue to support collective action to address the SDG financing gap and to accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and an equitable, green and resilient transition to an upper-middle-income country.
I am very much looking forward to your active participation and the insights that will be discussed during today’s event.