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NGO embarks on mission for green SEZs

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Epiac executive vice-president Choon Yik Thong. Photo supplied

NGO embarks on mission for green SEZs

Motivated to build a green industrial zone in Cambodia, the newly-established NGO Environmental Protection Industry Associations of Cambodia (Epiac) will work with Chinese-owned industrial park developer and operator QiLu (Cambodia) Special Economic Zone Co Ltd to set a new precedent for environmentally-friendly design and construction.

On November 12, they penned a memorandum of understanding to that end over a $1 billion integrated special economic zone (SEZ) project set to cover 450ha in southeast Cambodia’s restive Svay Rieng province.

Epiac gained the status of a legal entity on September 4, the day of entry into the Ministry of Interior’s registry.

The Post’s May Kunmakara sat down with Epiac executive vice-president Choon Yik Thong to discuss the organisation’s role in ensuring the project adheres to environmental regulations, standards and guidelines.

What does Epiac do?

Epiac’s main purpose is to protect the environment in Cambodia and engage in reducing environmental pollution.

We are to actively participate in the formulation of national environmental-protection industry development plans, economic and technical policies, environmental product standards, environmental-engineering technical specifications and other technical standards involved in the environmental-protection industry.

We also formulate rules for the environmental protection industry, regulate the behaviour of corporate members and establish a self-discipline mechanism for the environmental-protection industry to improve its overall quality and maintain the international image of Cambodia’s investment environment.

At the same time, we uphold the environmental industry in Cambodia to the highest standards and set out to improve the quality of customised services, with emphasis on training and publicity relating to environmental-protection technology.

We also sort out domestic and international industrial technical exchanges and cooperation, organise exhibitions, and publicise government documents on standards in line with market and industrial development needs.

We promote the application of circular-economy industrial-chain technology in industrial parks, including centralised water supply, sewage treatment, recycled-water use, central heating, clean-energy power generation – such as solar energy and water vapour, hazardous solid waste treatment, et cetera.

We coordinate relations between members, safeguard their interests and promote fair competition in the environmental-protection industry.

How will you help build up the green manufacturing sector here?

The primary objective of the association is to unite individual investors, enterprises, civil society and organisations across various industries in Cambodia and promote the development of the Kingdom’s environmental-protection cause.

We aim to build communication bridges between the government and enterprises, actively carry out international cooperation and exchanges with industrial institutions in neighbouring countries and adhere to the highest professional standards when providing integrated environmental services and solutions for the industry.

This is to pursue better environmental protection, achieve sustainable development, as well as to introduce and promote advanced foreign-made environmental technologies and showcase their applications.

And with the approval of relevant government departments, we will also organise the implementation of technical evaluations and appraisals in the field of environmental protection.

We are a professional association that centres on facilitating development in the environmental-protection industry and ensuring continued industrialisation in Cambodia, while preserving its environment.

Who will you work with?

We are and will be basically working with multiple stakeholders on a few fronts, likely the Ministry of Environment and various industrial associations like GMAC (Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia) and CFA (Cambodia Footwear Association).

The international stakeholders we’ll be working with are some of the world’s renowned buyers, relevant NGOs, or even government departments and agencies in other countries.

We are also formulating suitable regulations in response to the needs of the country, disseminating information to members as well as the general public, and pursuing proper enforcement as necessary.

What’s more, we’ll also work directly with SEZs, industrial zones and parks, individual factories and companies, providing them with relevant assistance and ensuring that they carry out their business activities within the confines of our rules and regulations.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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