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Cambodia rolls out UN-linked five-year green economy plan

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Smoke billows into a cloudy sky from a factory smokestack in Phnom Penh last year. Heng Chivoan

Cambodia rolls out UN-linked five-year green economy plan

The environment ministry on May 12 formally rolled out the five-year Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) Cambodia, in an affirmation of the Kingdom’s commitment towards sustainability and inclusivity in economic growth.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) defines a “green economy” as “one that results in improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”, and adds that “it is low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially-inclusive”.

PAGE is a UN joint programme implemented by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), UNEP, UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

And PAGE Cambodia was launched with support from the EU, Finland, Germany, Norway, South Korea, Sweden and Switzerland, according to a UN statement that noted that the project in the Kingdom includes a “one-year inception phase” that runs until “mid-2023”.

“To ensure that its support in Cambodia is fully aligned with existing strategies and programmes, PAGE has engaged the Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI) to conduct a scoping study.

“This study is to identify opportunities and options for macroeconomic and sectoral policy reform including high-impact sectors such as garment manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and finance that can enable a green economy transition,” it said.

At the accompanying launch ceremony, ministry undersecretary of state Chuop Paris highlighted the Kingdom’s commitment to green-economy objectives, citing as prominent examples the National Strategic Plan on Green Growth 2013-2030 and the Long-term Strategy for Carbon Neutrality (LTS4CN), the latter of which he noted was sent to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2021.

“Joining this global partnership will leverage the country’s efforts in mobilising additional support in terms of new and advanced knowledge and finance to expedite the transition towards an inclusive green economy,” the statement quoted him as saying.

For context, the government approved the green-growth national strategic plan on March 1, 2013, in a purported move towards economic development with due consideration for environmental and natural-resource sustainability.

Similarly, Cambodia’s 2020 Updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) includes a target to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 41.7 per cent by 2030 – a reduction that the NDC estimates at 64.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) per annum.

“Green growth” is defined as the process in which an economy grows and develops wherein supplies of resources and ecosystem services provided by natural assets that are key to overall wellbeing are sustainable and secure.

At the same event, Asad Naqvi, head of the PAGE secretariat, touted the partnership’s abilities to adapt its operations, model and priorities based

on emerging practical needs towards the achievement of local green-economy and global sustainability objectives, according to the statement.

“We look forward to sharing our experience and expertise with Cambodia but also to learn from you about how [the] PAGE programme can support countries to achieve economic growth, job creation and prosperity through investments in solutions for today’s sustainability challenges,” he said.

The statement claimed that the programme “is increasingly recognised as a model for delivering coordinated support of the UN to countries for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets of the Paris Agreement.

“PAGE’s unique value proposition is its focus on ‘upstream’ economic policies that have the potential to eventually move the whole of the economy on a more sustainable trajectory,” it said.

Also at the event, UNIDO country representative Sok Narin voiced confidence in PAGE Cambodia’s capacity to ensure that the overall goals of the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) 2024-2028 are realised.

“[Narin] reiterated the Joint UN commitment to work closely with relevant line ministries to ensure that PAGE Cambodia contributes to promoting green and inclusive economic growth in Cambodia,” the statement said.


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