Toast to Clean Energy and the Clean Energy Awards 2023

Key Messages from Ms. Alissar Chaker, Resident Representative of UNDP Cambodia

November 24, 2023

Ms. Alissar Chaker remarks at the Toast to Clean Energy and the Clean Energy Awards 2023 at the Australian Ambassador’s Residence.

  • H.E. Vongsey Vissoth, Deputy Prime Minister 
  • H.E. Eang Sophalleth, Minister of Environment 
  • H.E. Hem Vanndy, Minister for Industry, Science, Technology, and Innovation
  • H.E. Keo Rottanak, Minister of Mines and Energy
  • H.E. Justin Whyatt, Australian Ambassador to Cambodia 
  • Mr. Natharoun Ngo Son, EnergyLab Country Director, CEW Preparation Team  

Development Partners, UN colleagues, NGOs/CSOs, and private sector esteemed representatives
Friends from the media.  

Choum Reap Sour!

The Clean Energy Week has passed in a blink!

As a Founding Sponsor, I’m so excited to represent UNDP to celebrate its success and toast this year’s Award Winners. Thank you, Ambassador Justin Whyatt of Australia, for hosting us all tonight. The celebration will surely not be complete without the presence of His Excellency Keo Rottanak, Minister of Mines and Energy, and of Mr. Natharoun Ngo Son, EnergyLab Country Director and Godfather of the Clean Energy Week. Kudos to you, your team, and all the partners that contributed to this success.

Climate and development can no longer be viewed as competing priorities. The future of markets and economic growth are driven by decarbonization. This is particularly true for Cambodia as it gears itself for LDC graduation and enhances its trade competitiveness in existing – but increasingly more demanding- and future markets.

Energy powers homes, hospitals, schools, and businesses. It touches every aspect of our individual and collective lives. As such, clean energy is now a prerequisite for development, and a key means to ensure a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. It will also set the conditions to create new jobs and livelihoods, reducing poverty and inequalities.  

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has made a bold pledge to work with our partners to provide 500 million additional people with access to clean and affordable energy by 2025. Considering that the Kingdom has made laudable progress in access to universal electrification- with 98% coverage, this translates in Cambodia in UNDP focusing on just energy transition ensuring access to clean and affordable energy for all, namely last-mile access, and advancing energy efficiency.

Complementing the work done by the Royal Government, we electrified 21 off-grid villages with solar-powered mini-grids, giving access to remote and marginalized communities and remote indigenous villages. We have also promoted the use of solar water pumps to support yearly multi-crop production and reduce vulnerability to droughts. 700 ha of rice and vegetable fields were irrigated with solar-powered water pumps delivered to the most vulnerable communities and smallholder farmers—Leaving-No-One-Behind.

In addition to community management, we are also working with the private sector to develop and promote alternatives for viable models for managing and financing solar grids and related infrastructure for more sustainability.

Greening energy production is half the answer; the other half is energy efficiency, mainly in residential, commercial, and public buildings. Cambodia’s building sectors account for 45% of the total energy demand (2018) and this sector is growing rapidly. UNDP is working with the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction to include energy efficiency design guidelines in Building Technical Regulations (also known as the building code), as stipulated in the National Energy Efficiency Policy. The National Energy Efficiency Policy is also calling for the establishment of the empanelment and rating of Energy Service Companies (ESCOs). This will unlock business opportunities and employment for energy managers, energy auditors, and energy-friendly building designs.  To start building the human capital needed, we partnered with the Institute of Technology of Cambodia to develop and deliver the first Certified Energy Manager and Auditor Training Programme to develop the sector.

As LDC, Cambodia has been benefitting from concessional financing; once it graduates its financing architecture will have to evolve. Private ventures will have to play an increasingly important role in driving prosperity. In anticipation, UNDP Cambodia is establishing with the Cambodia Credit Guarantee Corporation the SDGs financing facility, which aims to unlock private capital and investments in areas of clean energy, and energy efficiency. Indeed, the shift from funding to financing SDG7 and creating an enabling environment for encouraging private ventures is still a major gap for its acceleration. It is now the time to provide the right incentives and facilitate access to finance for the switch towards a clean energy efficient economy.

Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen:

I truly believe that Clean Energy Week is an important platform for showcasing clean energy solutions and fostering dialogue among practitioners, the private sector, and policymakers. I noted particularly this year's youth engagement I was delighted by their enthusiasm and engagement. I was particularly heartened by the discussion in the panel Women Shaping Cambodia's Clean Energy Transition, the testimonies, and the questions of the young audience of future Cambodian women leaders. Cambodia is a country with a high proportion of young people, nearly two-thirds of the population is below the age of thirty. Their interest and participation in clean energy can translate soon into economic gains, driven by entrepreneurship, innovation, job creation, investments, and regional leadership on clean energy.  

But… While we celebrate a successful week, we should remember that efforts should continue to accelerate Cambodia’s energy transition. Opportunities don't happen. They are created! Together we can create them to ensure sustainable, equitable, and just energy transition for all.

I would like to end with a big thank you to our partners, namely, the European Union, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, Germany, and the United Kingdom who joined forces with UNDP to promote the climate and clean energy agendas and I encourage all development partners, investors, and the private sector to join the journey and continue supporting Cambodia in its energy transition.

I already look forward to the next Clean Energy Week 2024!

Som Orkun!