Cambodia is set to host the 15th Asean Ministerial Meeting on the Environment from October 7-11 in Siem Reap province, with a focus on regional environmental cooperation, a Ministry of Environment Facebook post said on Monday.
On Monday its minister, Say Sam Al, led an inter-ministerial meeting to monitor work progress and oversee preparations for the meeting, the post said.
It said the meeting will be attended by all environmental ministers in Asean+3, which includes the 10-member Asean plus China, Japan and South Korea.
Regional issues to be addressed at the meeting include the construction of hydroelectric dams along the Mekong River in Laos and China which have negatively impacted biodiversity, as well as flooding and waste management issues, said People Centre for Development and Peace president Yong Kim Eng.
Recently, plastic waste was illegally imported into Cambodia, which was then promptly ordered back to their countries of origin, Kim Eng said.
Other issues impacting the Kingdom’s environment, he said, included air pollution from the energy industry and deforestation, as well as climate change.
Welcoming the news that Cambodia would lead the 15th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Environment, he called on the meeting’s participants to come up with “whatever means necessary” to resolve climate change issues, curb the loss of biodiversity along the Mekong River and increase efforts to mitigate air pollution.
Earlier this year, Bangkok had a toxic smog crisis which was detrimental to its citizens’ health, he said. “Some days [smog] can appear in Cambodia, and [on other days] it can be somewhere else. The impact continues to spread.
“All of these issues must be well-thought-out in advance, and participants should come up with the means to solve these issues for the Asean region,” said Kim Eng.
He said water pollution remained an issue and that lakes were drying up due to climate change.
“Fresh water remains dirty. Most importantly, the countries which rely on the Mekong River for their sustenance will face a far more dire situation if these issues persist,” he said.
Speaking at the 8th Asia-Europe Meeting Sustainable Development Dialogue in Siem Reap province on Friday, Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology Lim Kean Hor expressed his commitment as a government representative to supporting and promoting cooperation and partnerships in the region and internationally for sustainable management and water development along the Mekong River, a Mekong River Commission press release said.