Minister of Environment Eang Sophalleth highlighted waste management and plastic reduction as priority tasks during his recent meeting with Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Atsushi Ueno.

At their September 6 meeting, held at the ministry headquarters in Phnom Penh with a focus on ecological protection and climate change responses, Sophalleth stated that the ministry is initiating a national school campaign to cut down on plastic bag usage.

Ueno affirmed Japan's full support for the government's Pentagonal Strategy-Phase I, which also prioritises environmental sustainability and climate change preparedness. He underlined Japan's grant aid for Cambodia's waste management project, channelled through the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Japan previously donated $3 million to tackle non-biodegradable marine waste, in November 2020. The contribution aimed to enforce the 4R principles – reuse, reduce, recycle and reject – to efficiently manage refuse both on land and at sea.

Sophalleth welcomed the ongoing cooperation between the countries, particularly in the field of sustainable resource management.

"We are working towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2050," he said.

The ministry is not only focusing on garbage and plastic but also aims to increase forest cover and improve the livelihoods of community-protected areas.

Hour ChhaiNgorn, founder of the local environmental group Creal Cambodia, said the ministry’s initiative would gain more traction if it appealed to young people.

"Engaging well-known figures and students will encourage more participation in these green projects," Ngorn suggested.

He also urged the ministry to collaborate with businesses to promote eco-friendly products and contribute to plastic reduction efforts.