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Cambodia, South Korea committed to climate action

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A boy plays in what remains of a pond in Kandal province last year. Heng Chivoan

Cambodia, South Korea committed to climate action

Cambodia and South Korea are steadfastly committed to respond to the severity of climate change threats, preventing the reversal of significant hard-won development gains made in recent years and safeguarding natural ecosystems, according to government officials of both countries.

The officials made the remark ahead of the 2nd P4G Summit to be hosted in Seoul virtually on May 30-31 under the theme “Inclusive Green Recovery towards Carbon Neutrality”.

According to South Korean ambassador to Cambodia Park Heung-kyeong, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, around 60 heads of state and leaders of international organisations are expected to attend.

Cambodian Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra confirmed that Hun Sen would attend the summit via video link.

P4G, or Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030, is a global initiative launched in 2017 to address global challenges and respond to climate change to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Park said the event “aims to accelerate solutions on the five main P4G sectors – food, water, energy, cities, and circular economy. These are closely interlinked with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and are important elements in the global response to climate change.

“The P4G Seoul Summit will generate renewed momentum for discussions on key issues as countries prepare for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties – COP26 – which is to be held in Glasgow, the United Kingdom, in November this year.

“We believe that the P4G Seoul Summit, engaging both the public and private sector in investing in transformative solutions, will provide a vital global platform for all key players to facilitate the collective action needed to address worsening climate change,” he said.

According to Pheaktra, the Kingdom is highly devoted to the protection and conservation of natural resources and the promotion of ecological restoration, championing tree planting initiatives to restore lost or degraded forest cover.

He said urban tree planting prevents all types of environmental pollution, shifts residents’ attitudes towards environmental issues, promotes greater overall environmental friendliness, conserves biodiversity and in general offers a green touch in a grey area.

"This is a joint effort to restore greenery and conserve natural resources, as part of supporting sustainable socio-economic development and contributing to the mitigation of climate change, which has had adverse effects on Cambodia and the rest of the world,” he said.

According to Pheaktra, Cambodia is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in Asia, with limited institutional capacity to mitigate it, or adapt to its potentially devastating consequences.

Climate change poses a risk that could jeopardise the pace of economic growth and sustainable development in the long run if not addressed in a global and comprehensive manner, he warned.

He stressed that the Royal Government of Cambodia considers climate change response as an important priority in the Rectangular Strategy Phase IV and the National Strategic Development Plan 2019-2023.

Ambassador Park highlighted the Kingdom’s “rich natural resource base”, which he said provides an important lifeline for food security and “the very livelihoods of the people”.

“Yet, it is threatened by changing climatic conditions. In particular, the changing climatic conditions present an ongoing threat to sustainable development in the country, which depends heavily on the Mekong River and Tonle Sap basins.

“These basins are characterised by a flood-pulse hydrology with significant fluctuations in water levels between wet and dry seasons. The flood-pulse system supports flooded forests, grasslands, and wetlands as well as the world’s most diverse and productive inland fisheries.

“It also largely supplies the country’s freshwater resources for agriculture. Agriculture and fisheries, which account for 27 per cent and 12 per cent of GDP [gross domestic product] respectively, are keys in food security in Cambodia and in the very livelihoods of the Cambodian people,” he said.

“In response to the global effort to address climate change, the Republic of Korea has announced ambitious plans to achieve its target of carbon neutrality by 2050,” he added, using South Korea’s official name.

“Through the Green New Deal announced last year, the Korean government plans to invest $62 billion in short- and long-term projects to help the economy recover from the slowdown resulting from Covid-19.

“Some of its plans include converting the country’s largely carbon-intensive industries into a low-carbon system and promoting the use of non-fossil energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric energy,” Park said.

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