Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cooperation on environmental code lagging




Cooperation on environmental code lagging

Environment Minister Say Sam Al speaks at a consultation workshop on the draft environmental code yesterday at the Phnom Penh Hotel. Facebook
Environment Minister Say Sam Al speaks at a consultation workshop on the draft environmental code yesterday at the Phnom Penh Hotel. Facebook

Cooperation on environmental code lagging

The ambitious environmental code Cambodia plans to adopt by the end of this year would require cooperation among a group of ministries, but current efforts to get each on board have met difficulties.

The more than 400-page code, which was discussed yesterday at a consultative workshop, aims to promote sustainable development through protection and restoration of the environment. It also assigns greater management control of natural resources to the local level.

Brian Rohan, legal adviser at the Vishnu Law Group, said that since many of Cambodia’s environmental laws were created 10 to 20 years ago, changes like the effects of climate change and availability of sustainable energy have arisen.

The environmental code would update and modernise Cambodia’s outdated environmental framework, and would be “inter-ministerial”, meaning a handful would need to interact together.

Doing so, Rohan said, would help the country live up to its international environmental pledges, and to its commitment to a sustainable development agenda.

“We need to have a legal framework that is the foundation for that coordination. This code is becoming that legal foundation,” he said.

Nonetheless, according to Rohan the Ministry of Agriculture, which is a key ministry in part because it encompasses the Forestry Administration, has barely participated in the process of drafting the code.

“It’s essential that they engage in this process,” he said.

There have been other hiccups along the way, including objections by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, about a year ago, to some sections of the code.

“They raised a number of concerns of liability issues and provisions of the code they thought might restrict investment in mining of minerals,” he said.

Victor Jona, a spokesman for the Mines Ministry, did not respond to questions by press time, and the Ministry of Agriculture could not be reached.

Rohan said the code requires “ministries that have not typically seen themselves as having an environmental aspect to their agenda” to begin to recognise the environmental implication of their portfolio.

“For some ministries, it may seem [like] a struggle if the code is compelling them to do more things, or do things in a different way,” he said.

Khut Chandara, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Environment, said his ministry had sent a copy of the latest draft to all ministries, accompanied by a letter to all the ministers asking for their feedback.

“After we get comments, our team might point out what ministries might have some concerns,” he said, adding that meetings are planned with the ministries next month after receiving the feedback.

Conservationist Marcus Hardtke said he was not surprised that the new code had encountered resistance.

“There has always been competition between state agencies, between ministries, even between different departments within the same ministry,” he said.

Minister of Environment Say Sam Al told officials from provincial departments of environment, as well as from other relevant ministries, that the purpose of the code was to change people’s “mind set”.

He said there will be penalties for those “who don’t implement the code”.

“Whether the law is good, it depends on all of you,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • Cambodia, CRF win rice battle in EU Court

    The European General Court has rejected the European Commission’s (EC) request to reject a complaint submitted by Cambodia and the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) regarding the EU’s reintroduction of tariffs on Indica rice exports from Cambodia. A court order uploaded to the European

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,