Environmental activists and civil society organisations have expressed concerns over climate change in the Kingdom. They said the situation is getting worse and will adversely affect the well-being, livelihood and seasonal farming of citizens.
Meanwhile, environmental officials have appealed for concerted efforts to protect the environment.
The concerns were raised during a forum to mark World Environment Day 2019 under the theme Protect the Globe Together.
Held in Phnom Penh, the forum was organised by the Cambodian Youth Network (CYN) in partnership with Equitable Cambodia (EC), Cambodian Volunteers for Society (CVS), Change Maker and N1M and attended by more than 300 participants. It was aimed at raising awareness among youths and the general public.
CYN director Tim Malay said the event gave youths a venue to voice their opinions and concerns and offered a venue for discussion in hopes of finding a solution in response to climate change.
Malay said over the past few years, Cambodia has been affected by climate change which caused longer dry season, sudden strong winds and growing heat in particular.
“I am very concerned for Cambodians and the world because the destruction caused by climate change has increased year-on-year and will persist if there is no preventative measure initiated by all of us,” he said.
Nop Navy, the head of the Climate Change and Adaptation project at BBC Media Action, said she had recently observed that more and more youth network groups had carried out activities to help preserve and protect the environment.
But she said knowledge among the people, especially youths themselves, on climate change is still limited, which in turn hinders their efforts to effectively contribute to the prevention of climate change.
“So far my organisation and the Ministry of Environment have cooperated a lot on this work and I would like to emphasise that if [we] want to have a highly effective solution, all of us must instil a will to love the environment. Then tell our friends or people around us and then it will begin to change society,” she said.
Ek Sovanna, a youth and Prey Lang Community Network activist, said the loss of forests is partly to blame for climate change. He said deforestation in the Prey Lang area would affect the lives and livelihood of people in the area who rely on forestry products for a living.
“With regard to logging, we have always patrolled the forest. After each patrol, we make a report about the increase in forestry crimes, but environmental officers seemed to be unhappy with our activities. Sometimes they even told us not to talk about the truth [of logging] too much,” he said.
Roeun Srey Neang, an 18-year-old student from the Royal University of Phnom Penh majoring in Development and Management of Natural Resources, said the forum was a good venue for youths to express their opinions on the environment and climate change.
She said climate change has an adverse effect on Cambodians, especially people living in rural areas who have no modern equipment and machinery for cultivation.
“I really pity our people who live in rural areas, and obviously I used to go down to the Areng Valley area and saw that they faced difficulty in livelihood, lacked water, had no electricity, lacked rice and they just depended on only forestry products,” she said.
Leang Sophal, the director of the Bureau of Inventory and Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction of the Department of Climate Change representing the Ministry of Environment, said climate change is a global phenomenon, and hence, he urged civil society groups and the public to unite in protecting the environment.
“Cambodia is a least developed country, so it is easily affected by climate change. Cambodia has also introduced many measures to reduce the effects of climate change. We have participated with many international organisations as we cannot do it alone. We need the active participation of all parties,” he said.