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A worker guides a solar panel into place at a factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in 2014.
A worker guides a solar panel into place at a factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in 2014. Vireak Mai

Meet talks climate funds

A self-styled ideas forum hosted by the Climate Investment Funds and Asian Development Bank over the past two days sought to bring developing nations together to share lessons learned on climate change, though some yesterday questioned whether certain stumbling blocks were being overlooked.

The conference – set to conclude today – gathered 90 experts from 27 different countries with the aim of allowing government, private sector and civil society representatives from developing countries to discuss financial and technological solutions to the challenges of embracing renewable energy.

Zhizhong Zhang, a senior program director with CIF, said he believed that renewable resource technology – of the sort funding from organisations like the ADB can provide – will prove integral to Cambodia’s development and its ability to mitigate the effects of climate change. However, he acknowledged that short-term considerations – particularly a “need to lift people out of poverty quickly” – will continue to outweigh these goals for the foreseeable future.

But attendee Socheath Sou, director of Live and Learn Environmental Education Cambodia, said that while he found the conference’s emphasis on collaboration between banks and governments helpful, it did not address what he considered Cambodia’s greatest challenge: a severe knowledge gap.

“There is no capacity at all,” he said. “We know there are lots of channels of funding, but how many people can come up with proposals, investment plans, or actually design energy systems?”

Tin Ponlok, of the Ministry of Environment and the Cambodia Climate Change AllianceTrust Fund Secretariat, meanwhile, argued that the knowledge gap extended even further, to a “lack of reliable research on how climate change will affect communities, how it will change forestry, fisheries, and agriculture”.

Martin de Bourmont

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