The European Investment Bank (EIB) is planning to expand its presence in Cambodia, especially in green projects, with the EU’s lending arm currently investing in three main projects worth a total of €245 million ($249 million).

A presentation of the plans was delivered at the Ministry of Environment in Phnom Penh on September 11, in a meeting between minister Say Samal and a delegation led by EIB vice-president Kris Peeters.

Samal explained the current situation in the Kingdom, noting that Cambodia enjoys independence, peace, sovereignty, national unity, full territorial integrity and widespread development at levels not seen in more than 500 years.

The minister also highlighted the government’s success in implementing policies which have brought Covid-19 under control and allowed for a post-pandemic economic recovery, which has in turn enabled Cambodia to stimulate economic growth.

Peeters congratulated the government on its past achievements and good cooperation with the EIB.

“The European Investment Bank plans to expand its investment. In addition, we look forward to consulting on green loans and financing,” he said.

Samal and Peeters also discussed the possibility of cooperation on a number of priority projects. These include helping find markets for agricultural products, buying carbon credits and investing in renewable energy and green technologies.

According to a ministry report, about 40 of the 100 ecotourism sites in 76 protected areas throughout Cambodia are currently in operation, 26 of which are under the management of local protected area communities. It was estimated that as many as 415,000 visitors had travelled to the sites between January and June this year.

The report noted that more needs to be done in the development of local communities, with the ministry having formed partnerships with 190 communities in order to build trust.

Community networking is a mechanism which provides opportunities for local communities to partner, discuss and negotiate with the government on needs and issues to improve their livelihoods and strengthen the protection and conservation of natural resources, it said.

The ministry has provided technical support, seeds and crops to several communities. It has coordinated with a number of supermarkets to sell community products and is continuing to improve living conditions in these communities. It also coordinates with civil society organisations and the private sector to provide things like modern agriculture training, community health and sanitation, it added.

The report said the ministry is planning to turn fast-growing forests in protected areas into strategic channels that will reduce pressure on established tree growth. The global market for commercial timber is high enough that this may be an excellent way to expand the national economic base.

Cambodia’s National Policy on Green Development defines green investment as projects or activities in areas including water treatment, food safety and security, transportation, finance, industry and technology-related fields that focus on green issues such as environmental conservation and sustainable natural resource management.

The EIB said it has been actively supporting sustainable development in Cambodia since 2018.