Minister of environment urges recycling and waste disposal as a way to boost cleanliness and improve the economy.
Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON
A Phnom Penh sunset. The government wants people to recycle more and drive less to fight climate change.
THE government urged people to help reduce the effects of climate change ahead of World Environment Day today, saying recycling and proper waste disposal can improve people's health, as well boost the nation's overall economic growth.
"Climate change not only impacts our environment and our health, it is also an obstacle to the country's development," Environment Minister Mok Mareth said Wednesday at a campaign event called "Your Planet Needs You! Unite to Combat Climate Change" at Chaktomuk secondary school.
"We need people to join with us to protect the environment by separating waste products into recyclable and nonrecyclable. Do not throw waste into drains, gardens or on the street. Please clean up our community and our country," he said.
Mok Mareth, who claimed climate change could have a "huge" impact on Cambodia, also called on all ministries and departments to help promote programs that improve the environment - saying it was a government priority.
"For Cambodia, the government spends millions of dollars every year to protect the country against climate change through tree planting, creating irrigation systems and other programs," he said.
"Together we can combat global climate change and protect our health and our planet's health; and if our country is clean, gross domestic product in Cambodia will also grow," he said, citing a link between tourism and environmental responsibility.
Cleanliness equals tourism
Seng Savy, director of the waste disposal group Cintri (Cambodia), said he also believed improved sanitation would increase tourism.
"A country that has a good environment not only has a healthy population, but also a wealthy population, as a clean country can attract more tourists and increase gross domestic product," Seng Savy said.
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said Phnom Penh generates 1,000 tonnes of solid waste every day, in addition to unknown amounts of air pollution created from the roughly 1 million vehicles on the road.
"We have created a good environment in public places around the city where people can breathe fresh air, and we are trying to spread environmental understanding to people," he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a message released Wednesday that the government has promised to keep 60 percent of its land surface as natural forest and has created 23 protected forest areas that span 4,000,000 hectares, in line with the Kyoto Protocol, a part of the UN climate change treaty.
Mok Mareth said that it was urgent for nations to agree on new ways to deal with climate change before a convention in Copenhagen six months from now.
This year's host of World Environment Day is Mexico.