Koeung Navy, a representative of the Bunong minority ethnic community, is attending the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCC) 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

According to a December 5 press release by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cambodia, which worked with the Ministry of Environment to facilitate her attendance at COP28, Navy delivered an address on the tangible benefits of carbon finance in forest conservation, as witnessed by her own indigenous community, in Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary.

Her speech underscored the importance of directing carbon finance towards indigenous communities for effective and sustainable conservation.

“[Navy] made history as the first Bunong community speaker to address such a high-level UN conference, to bring a message from the remote forested villages of Mondulkiri province to world leaders,” said the release.

The release quoted Navy as expressing her gratitude for the opportunity.

“It is a great honour to speak here, from a small village in Cambodia to world leaders,” she said.

“We’ve used carbon finance to build our community and protect our environment, blending our traditional lifestyle with innovative ways to protect our forest. The financial support we receive is vital in standing against the threats to our forests,” she added, stressing that the forests under the care of the Bunong are among the densest and healthiest in Cambodia, a testament to their commitment and care.

She explained that while carbon financing uplifts her community – and other indigenous communities worldwide – the benefits are also extended to the entire world, in terms of tackling climate change.

WCS Cambodia suggested that Navy’s insights echoed the sentiments at COP28, and drew attention to the fact that the progress in climate finance is vital to a just transition and reducing emissions worldwide. In addition, her speech at the conference also highlighted the important role of carbon financing in empowering indigenous communities.

This aligns with COP28’s focus on accelerating actions to combat climate change and the importance of financial mechanisms like the REDD+ in supporting these efforts. 

Navy is scheduled to speak at another COP28 event, themed “How can carbon finance create opportunities for Indigenous peoples and local communities?”, which will be held on December 11 at the Indigenous Peoples Pavilion, co-hosted by the Integrity Council for Voluntary Carbon Markets (ICVCM) and Nature4Climate (N4C), and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Environment minister Eang Sophalleth also attended the COP28, where he noted that Cambodia considers carbon credits to be an important source of sustainable financing for greenhouse gas emission reduction activities.

He also highlighted several of the Kingdom’s priority areas and green investment activities, such as increasing forest cover by 60 per cent, improving community livelihoods through the planting of bamboo trees and the promotion of a clean Cambodia through the “Today I will not use Plastic” campaign, as well as plans to ensure that all citizens have access to sustainable energy at affordable prices, with low carbon emissions.