The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) vow to increase climate financing assistance to developing countries in Asia and the Pacific has drawn plaudits from the Cambodian government.

A January 31 ADB press release outlined the progress of its commitment to the fight against climate change, especially through supporting the efforts of developing countries in Asia and the Pacific to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of global warming.

In 2023, the ADB provided more climate funding than in previous years, with $9.8 billion of direct resources. Of that, $5.5 billion was used for impact mitigation work and $4.3 billion for adaptation work, an increase of more than 56 per cent over 2022.

Masatsugu Asakawa, ADB president, explained the bank’s position.

“Climate change threatens the future of all development. 2023 was the hottest year on record and has seen major and severe weather effects in our region. This crisis threatens energy and food security and also poses a challenge to economic growth,” he said in a statement.

“The ADB has … the clear goal of helping developing countries eliminate the use of fossil fuels in economic mechanisms, achieve progress along the path of climate interaction, in particular achieving a balance of greenhouse gas emissions from their respective countries. These grants are important for countries in Asia and the Pacific that are experiencing extreme heat, drought and heavy rains,” he added.

Pen Bona, head of the Cambodian Government Spokesperson Unit (RGSU), hailed the bank’s commitment to increasing climate-related financial assistance to developing countries in Asia and the Pacific, including Cambodia. 

“The fight against climate change is a big challenge for the whole world, in general, but for developing countries in particular. This work requires a lot of investment. From the time of the previous prime minister to the current one, we have never overlooked this issue. It is central to all of our policies,” he said.

He noted that the seventh-mandate government’s Pentagonal Strategy aims to develop Cambodia into a resilient, sustainable and inclusive country, which means ensuring the development process is not obstructed by the climate crisis.

“If a large international financial institution like the ADB spends money on climate change for developing countries, we think it is good news. This will support the achievement of our development goals,” he explained.

Heng Kimhong, research and advocacy programme manager at the Cambodian Youth Network (CYN), supported ADB’s commitment to increase its climate funding packages.

“I think the ADB should consider working more closely with natural resource protection agencies, civil society organisations and the government, so they can work together to reduce emissions and mitigate the use of plastic to protect forests,” he said.

The ADB has set the target of providing $100 billion in climate financing from its own resources from 2019 to 2030. In 2022, it provided about $6.7 billion in financing, increasing this to nearly $10 billion in 2023. It has committed to increasing its assistance to developing countries in Asia and the Pacific, as the region accounts for more than half of the world’s carbondioxide emissions and is also heavily affected by the effects of climate change.