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Cambodia expected to seek funding at climate summit

Cambodia expected to seek funding at climate summit

091209_05
Children walk on temporary platforms between their houses set up due to excessive flooding in Kandal province last month.

FOREIGN Minister Hor Namhong will lead Cambodia’s delegation to the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, where analysts say they expect him to press for so-called adaptation funds to help Cambodia meet its climate-related challenges.

The Cambodian delegation, which also includes Environment Minister Mok Mareth, is expected to arrive in Denmark in time for a meeting of heads of state next week, said Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

While the discussion leading up to the summit has largely centred on emissions reductions, analysts say developing countries such as Cambodia are more likely to focus on a different figure: the amount of money industrialised countries are willing to commit to help poorer nations adapt to the expected effects of climate change.

“It’s the story for all developing countries,” said Brian Lund, the East Asia regional director for Oxfam. “These countries may not be the main contributors to global emissions, but they are certainly on the receiving end when it comes to consequences.”

The government’s draft position on climate change, in particular, suggests that adaptation funds are likely to be the delegation’s key demand during the summit.

Developed countries “should increase their financial support for adaptation activities in vulnerable countries”, the draft position reads.

“Assistance for implementing climate change adaptation measures in least developed countries should be unconditional … and should not lead to increase in debt.”

Tin Ponlok, project coordinator at the Environment Ministry’s climate change office, said, “The importance for us is that, yes, we hope
industrialised countries will commit more to cut emissions, but at the same time we hope they will also commit more to provide more tangible funding support for adaptation activities in developing countries.”

With a majority of the country still reliant on agriculture for both income and food, Cambodia is particularly dependent on international funds.

A report from the WorldFish Centre this year grouped Cambodia among the 30 most vulnerable economies in the world, largely due to the country’s dependence on fisheries as a source of protein and its limited ability to adapt.

Oxfam has said developing countries will need US$50 billion every year in adaptation funds. A World Bank report released this year suggests the annual figure should top $100 billion.

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