The Promotion of Sustainable Energy Practices in the Garment Sector in Cambodia (Switch Garment) programme was formalised on September 6 as the Seoul-based Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) joined hands with the Kingdom’s environment and industry ministries.
Underpinned by the new partnership and funded by the EU through the EU SWITCH-Asia Programme, the 2020-2024 project aims to “increase the competitiveness of Cambodian garment factories and decrease the industry’s environmental impact through the adoption of sustainable energy practices and facilitating investments in clean energy technologies”, the GGGI said in a statement.
The agreement was signed at an event in Kep province, which was attended by representatives from the two ministries, development partners and project implementers, the statement said.
It noted that Switch Garment has been implemented since May 2020 by the GGGI, in cooperation with the French-based NGO Geres and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) – the Kingdom’s apex garment makers’ body.
GGGI Cambodia country representative Shomi Kim hailed the teamwork behind Switch Garment leading to its formalisation, and praised the two ministries, which she said have been a major part in advancing the project’s ambitions in industry since its inception in 2020.
“Albeit the delay, it is crucial that we are all here together with the same objectives and goals to advance the sustainability in the garment sector which is the major industry player in Cambodia,” she said.
GMAC operations manager Ly Tek Heng said a fair share of international brands are placing a greater focus on sustainability initiatives and encouraging manufacturers to adopt clean energy options. He urged Cambodian garment factories to follow suit or risk losing their competitive edge amid the ongoing transition, accelerated by increasing environmental awareness among consumers.
Ministry of Environment secretary of state Tin Ponlok commented that energy-efficiency measures will bring down electricity costs and increase profits, noting that power rates are still higher in Cambodia than in other regional countries.
“The garment industry has been playing an important role in supporting the Cambodian economy, contributing more than 15 per cent of gross domestic product [GDP], he said, calling for responsible and well-managed initiatives that promote economic growth, while limiting negative environmental and societal impacts.
Ponlok also mentioned Cambodia’s 2020 Updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), in which the Kingdom noted that it revised its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target to 41.7 per cent – or 64.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) per year – by 2030, of which 21.3 per cent is from energy and 9.1 per cent from industrial processes and product use.
He said that by the end of Switch Garment’s life span, energy costs for the Cambodian garment industry will be around 20 per cent lower and the Kingdom’s annual GHG emissions will have reduced by some 175 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (ktCO2e).
Ponlok voiced confidence that the partners of the now-formalised project would be “actively” involved in reviewing its progress and planning its next steps, as well as improving the pertinent policies, regulations and implementation measures to deliver on the underlying joint commitments over the remaining couple of years.