10% of GDP Lost to Climate Change

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Climate change last year shaved off $1.5 billion from Cambodia’s total GDP of $16 billion. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodia lost 10 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) last year to the negative effect of climate change, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
In announcing a $96 million package to help the Kingdom cope with the loss of livelihoods and income due to extreme climatic events, Ancha Srinivasan, principal climate change specialist of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department said last year $1.5 billion was shaved off from its total GDP of $16 billion.
“This was a loss of 10 percent of GDP to climate change and if nothing is done to address this problem the country could lose a bigger percentage in the future,” warned Mr. Ancha on Friday.
Mr. Ancha recalled the damage cause by the 2011 floods that inundated 24 provinces in the country and affected over 1.5 million people.
“Despite the positive overall economic performance of Cambodia in 2011, the flood slowed the potential for sustained economic growth. The direct damage to assets and economic losses amounted to $624 million,” said Mr. Ancha.
According to the ADB, Cambodia’s vulnerability to the negative effect of climate change is attributed to the economy’s reliance on climate-sensitive sectors such as water resources and agriculture, compounded by the country’s limited capacity to adapt to climate related events.
“More than three-quarters of the population derives its livelihood from subsistence or rain-fed agriculture, an important source of income for 85 percent of Cambodians,” said the bank in its project document titled “Strategic Climate Fund – Pilot Program for Climate Resilience”.
The health sector is also affected by climate change and mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and dengue together with water borne diseases like cholera, typhoid and acute watery diarrhea can be exacerbated by the effects of El Nino and La Nina, said Mr. Ancha.
“So the main areas affected by climate change are agriculture, water resources and health,” he added.
ADB, under its climate investment fund, has provided $96 million to support the Cambodian government in the pilot program for climate resilience. According to Mr. Ancha, the pilot program scheme is expected to benefit over 112,000 people in more than 21,000 households, including vulnerable groups such as farmers, urban poor, women, children, marginalized groups, and indigenous people from 17 provinces.
Cambodia is the country in the Greater Mekong Sub-region selected to participate in the ADB’s $1.2 billion pilot program for climate resilience, which seeks to mainstream climate change coping mechanisms into development planning.
Paris Chuop, deputy secretary general of Ministry of Environment’s National Council for Sustainable Development, said climate change is a global issue and Cambodia needs all the help it can get in building up its resilience to climate change.
Cambodia established the National Climate Change Committee in 2006.” In 2013, it launched the Strategic National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction and approved the Cambodia Climate Change Strategic Plan the following year.
However, the ADB said: “Despite impressive progress made at the policy level, Cambodia has limited institutional and technical capacity to mainstream adaptation into development planning”.

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