The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday with Phnom Penh SEZ Plc to create a framework that aims to increase social impact investments within Cambodia’s economic hubs.
According to the agreement, the UNDP will work with the special economic zone (SEZ) to facilitate investments that would contribute to the economic and social development of Cambodia. The initiative falls under the framework of the United Nations Social Impact Fund (UNSIF), which seeks to help implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through partnerships with the private sector.
“The UNDP social impact fund is a platform where philanthropists, donors, governments and public funding can work together with capital market investment and really work together to produce investment projects that produce economic goods, but also produce social goods,” David Galipeau, chief of the UNSIF, said during the signing ceremony.
‘Areas in need’
In Cambodia, through SEZs in particular, UNSIF will look to analyse areas in need of investment and then identify stakeholders, both in and out of the country who can invest and provide solutions, Galipeau said. He added that UNSIF has already launched a $60 million fund in Egypt to facilitate debt and equity investments, a model that could potentially be reproduced in Cambodia when a local fund is created.
“For the structure here in Cambodia we are not sure yet [what it will be] and we are not sure of the size of the fund or the investment size,” he said. “But we are sure, once the fund is created, that we are looking at micro and small and medium enterprises.”
Hiroshi Uematsu, CEO of Phnom Penh SEZ, explained that a potential area for outside investment through UNSIF in the company’s SEZs in Phnom Penh and Poipet could be in solid waste management, education, skills training, affordable housing and renewable energy.
“The current existing challenge is solid waste management,” he said. “Actually, this is not only our own challenge but also the challenge of this country, so with the support of the UNSIF we would like to develop a systematic solid waste management system not only inside the SEZ, but also in outside communities.”