Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday called for greater regional cooperation to tackle a range of environmental problems in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, but did not specifically address the threat posed by dams.
“I call on all countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region to place more emphasis on developing the necessary scientific knowledge to protect the environment on a national and regional level,” he said at a regional forum in the capital.
“Power security” was high on the premier’s agenda. “Reliable energy sources form a strong basis for economic and social development,” he said, adding that they “also pose great risks for the environment”.
Environmentalists have identified these risks as the most serious the region faces. “The various dams that are planned will impact people that are rarely approached for their opinion, so it would be good to see the government discussing these plans more openly,” environmentalist Alan Michaud said.
“This would help to ensure potentially damaging projects are either stopped or moved to more suitable locations.
“Clearly Cambodia needs hydro power … it’s just the locations that need more discussion and more forethought so they don’t impact important watersheds or impact fisheries that are also vital to the country and to the region,” he added.
Hun Sen also identified climate change as a threat that needed to be addressed. His speech came on the heels of a workshop held at the National Assembly on Wednesday that focused on economic
integration and climate change adaptation in Southeast Asia.
Minister of Environment Mok Mareth said Cambodia had “already suffered from climate change... caused mainly by greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries”.