Second Stakeholder Consultation in Cambodia for the project, Mapping Nature for People and Planet

Meeting organized jointly by the Ministry of Environment and UNDP

October 26, 2021

A community on Kulen Mountain in Siem Reap

Your excellencies, esteemed colleagues, friends of the media, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

I am pleased to join you for the second consultation on the Mapping Nature for People and Planet Project.

We at UNDP are happy to work in partnership with the Ministry of Environment’s General Directorate of Environmental Knowledge and Information to leverage advances in information and communication technologies and cutting-edge science for informed decision-making on natural resources management for people and the planet.

Working together with the Impact Observatory, the University of Northern British Columbia, the Sustainable Market Foundation and a rich and diverse group of experts, we launched in June 2021 consultations on how spatial data can be used to identify and monitor nature-based solutions for biodiversity, climate and sustainable development in Cambodia, in view of eventually creating a map of the country’s Essential Life Support Areas (ELSAs) and regions that provide essential ecosystem services, such as water and food provision, carbon capture, and disaster risk reduction, among others.

Cambodia has made gigantic strides towards economic growth, which entailed some environmental and biodiversity costs. If we learned one thing from the pandemic, it is the wake-up call on the interconnectedness of people, prosperity, and the planet.

As the country is facing the dire challenges of the pandemic, we should not oversee the opportunity to re-set recovery and growth on a trajectory that puts nature back in the decision-making process, ensuring that the ecosystems underpinning the economy and human security and well-being are protected and sustained.

A key priority for UNDP is to support Cambodia in these efforts by promoting different but interlinked approaches across various disciplines. We believe that institutional strengthening and capacity development in an area such as environmental data management is crucial for setting the country back on the path of sustainable and durable development. This consultation goes into this direction by supporting data and analyses to guide the development of integrated land management policies that establish a sustainable relationship with nature while strengthening local economies.

I am glad to note that, following a successful initial consultation in June, you will continue collaborating during the next two weeks to create a map of the country’s Essential Life Support Areas (ELSAs). The map will strengthen the capacity of policymakers and facilitate a shared vision for evaluating development choices that factor in managing natural resources for people and the planet.

The use of such a map is diverse; for example, Uganda is using its map to inform the implementation of the country’s Third National Development Plan, showing how safeguarding nature can have ripple effects on human safety and well-being. Costa Rica is using it to guide its ecosystem-based climate adaptation plan. Colombia is using its ELSA map as a key tool for building consensus on how and where to safeguard sustainable urban water supply for nearly 15 million people in its central region.

I am confident that this project will build on and complement other ongoing initiatives of the Government of Cambodia to promote a greener and more resilient growth, such as the development of the Cambodia Environmental Management Information System (CEMIS) and the Decision Support System (DSS) for Protected Area zoning, also supported by UNDP.

Your presence here this morning is a testimony of your shared ambition to mobilize capacities and knowledge from different institutions to trace a greener and more prosperous future for the people of Cambodia.

I encourage you to contribute your unique expertise and institutional knowledge to create a map that can help transform decision-making in the country.

I thank you and look forward to our continued collaboration and the significant outcomes of this important project.