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Climate change threatens food security, warns UNDP

Climate change threatens food security, warns UNDP

Increasingly unpredictable weather caused by global warming poses a major threat to the Cambodia's already imperiled food supplies, says the UN Development Program.

The kingdom also needed to invest in environmentally-friendly energy sources like solar or wind power to help stave off the impacts of global warming, the agency said.

Agriculture-dependent Cambodia was especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change which have already triggered a damaging cycle of flooding and drought, said UNDP country director Jo Scheuer at a June 5 conference marking the UN's World Environment Day.

“When droughts, floods or storms strike, vulnerable people are forced to sell off productive assets, withdraw children from school and cut back on spending for nutrition and health,” added UN resident coordinator Douglas Broderick.

The conference, entitled “Kick the habit! Towards a low-carbon economy,” aimed at outlining ways for Cambodia to fight or adapt to climate change.

As Cambodia’s energy consumption increases, eventually making the country a net carbon emitter, it was becoming necessary to explore energy efficient technologies used in developed countries which have legal obligations to offset their carbon emissions, Scheuer said.

Solar and wind power projects in particular could be recipients of international funding, he said, adding that the UNDP and the Ministry of Environment had signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly attract such projects.

Prach Sun, secretary of state with the Ministry of Environment, said the government would also seek funds to plant trees to absorb greenhouse gases and would call on local businesses to reduce carbon emissions.

Tim Ponlock, national project coordinator for climate change at the Ministry of Environment, said Cambodia should also prioritize developing its bio-diesel technology to utilize the country’s substantial supply of discarded rice stalks and corn husks for fuel production.

Nop Polin, coordinator of the Climate Change Unit of the NGO Geres Cambodia, pointed to his agency’s energy-efficient stoves, which purportedly use just 25 percent of the wood or charcoal consumed by a traditional stove, to show that cleaner energy doesn’t have to be high-tech or expensive.

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