Our Perspectives

Cambodia turns climate change crisis into opportunity


UNDP in CambodiaMs. Khel Khem, a member of the Older People Association Bak Amrek village of Battambang, shows how she adapted her home garden to floods. Photo: UNDP Cambodia

Cambodia is ranked among the top 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change. This is not only due to climate risks, but also to lack of capacity to adapt and respond.  Eighty percent of the population lives in rural areas with limited knowledge, infrastructure and opportunities; and more than 70 percent rely on agriculture that is heavily sensitive to climate change, putting the country’s economic and social development at risk.

Cambodia’s efforts to fight climate change began in 1995 when the country ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and later acceded to the Kyoto Protocol in 2002. In 2006, the Cambodia national adaptation programme of action to climate change (NAPA) was developed.

In late 2013, the country launched its first-ever comprehensive Climate Change Strategic Plan, recognizing climate change as a challenge to development requiring urgent and joint attention. This is the highest political commitment in combating climate change in Cambodia.

Now the crucial question is “What’s next?” – How will the strategic plan be effectively implemented in order to achieve its vision and strategic goals?

We, at UNDP, have been providing technical and financial support to the Government to develop climate change policies and plans. One of our most successful programme is the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance, funded by the EU, Sweden, Denmark and UNDP.  The initiative strengthens coordination and capacity in national, local government agencies and civil society organizations and provides a grant facility to pilot adaptation measures.  So far, 20 grants have been helping communities across the country build resilience in tackling climate change.

With our support, Cambodia is also integrating climate change indicators into the 5-year national development plan, and developing corresponding financing, monitoring and evaluation frameworks. Lessons learned and good practices from pilot projects have been documented and some have been replicated into a larger programme and adopted into sector plans.

There is also a need to increase the government’s abilities to effectively mobilize and manage both domestic and external resources and fostering partnerships across stakeholders, including the private sector, to scale up good practices and successes.

Finally, it is essential to harness human and technological capacities to promote innovation and advance knowledge that would improve these policies and plans.

The upcoming Climate Summit is an opportunity for countries like Cambodia to not only raise their concerns over the climate change impacts but also demonstrate their commitment, efforts, and successes.

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