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UN official urges government to reduce use of plastic

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A landfill site in Siem Reap province. Samruol Im/UNDP

UN official urges government to reduce use of plastic

A senior environment officer for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Monday urged the Ministry of Environment to prepare a waste management system for plastics and to strive for clean air in the country, particularly in Phnom Penh.

Erik Solheim, the executive director of the UNEP, spent a day sightseeing and meeting with Minister of Environment Say Sam Al.

Solheim urged Cambodia to continue work on the development of renewable energy, establish a plan for plastic management, devise a policy to reduce the use of plastic bags and to encourage recycling.

“I also advised on the matter of clean air in cities and other places in Cambodia and called on the Kingdom to quickly develop the use of solar energy. It is very critical for the environment,” Solheim added.

Sam Al said he is prepared to work with the UNEP to adhere to UN agreements signed by the Kingdom.

“Cambodia intends to live up to its obligations to follow the Paris Agreement regarding plastic bags, global warming and conservation of biodiversity,” Sam Al said.

Tek Vannara, the executive director of the NGO Forum, noted that the ministry had been addressing the use of plastics and waste management for some time. However, the ministry’s policies may not be enough.

“[The plan to reduce the use of plastic bags] is inefficient. We need more human resources, a bigger budget and technical equipment to address the problem sufficiently,” he said.