Small and medium-size enterprises (SME) were urged by the Cambodian government to employ more environmentally friendly practices at a green industry workshop in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Cham Prasidh, minister for the Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts, said SMEs and handicraft producers’ reliance on fossil fuels such as diesel and coal continue to emit dangerous amounts of carbon into the air and contribute to global warming.
“The development of industry and handicrafts must go along with environmental protection otherwise it will later cost us time and money to recover the damages of industrialisation development,” Prasidh said.
“Companies and SMEs must face this challenge. In recent years, Cambodia has seen rapid economic growth of which is dependant on very limited foundations,” he added, referring to the high energy consumption of the Kingdom’s major export markets – rice and garment manufacturing.
Prasidh called for companies to investigate alternative, renewable energy sources, which will in turn reduce energy costs, strengthen production capacity and promote value added industries – industries that go beyond producing only raw materials without incurring additional costs.
Te Taing Por, president of the Federation of Associations for Small and Medium Enterprises of Cambodia (FASMEC) welcomed the green industry initiative saying it would help lower energy costs and keep Cambodia’s production costs competitive.
However, he said more capital is needed for production lines to become sustainable and a lack of technical experts in the field of environmental science and engineering remains a challenge.
Chin Pen Chua, representative of UN’s Industry Development Organisation (UNIDO), said for least developed countries such as Cambodia, which aspire to become middle-income nations, promoting value added industrialisation must be an essential part of their growth formula.
However, while industrialisation is widely seen to be the global engine for growth, a side effect is the considerable environmental footprint, he added.
“Industry is still consuming and wasting a large amount of water energy, raw materials producing harmful emissions, unrecoverable waste and toxic byproducts, which are all unsustainable.”
To be sustainable, Chua said, economic growth must therefore urgently reduce its reliance on raw materials.
The Green Industry Workshop aims to promote efficient, renewable and clean energy usage among Cambodia’s major industries with brick making factories listed as a key sector in need of more environmentally friendly practices.
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