Civil society groups, representatives of youth and environmental activists have marked World Environment Day 2018 with a wide-ranging call for reforms.
The groups urged joint environmental protection to reduce climate change, and asked the government to take further measures to reduce the use of plastic bags, restore forests and crack down on forest crime.
The UN’s World Environment Day is to be celebrated officially tomorrow.
Yesterday’s call was organised by civil society groups at the American Intercon School in Phnom Penh.
Tim Malay, director of the Cambodian Youth Network, said environmental issues and climate change were important for everyone to protect the environment and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Mr Malay said mechanisms should be applied to a greater extent to reduce climate change, such as providing opportunities for students or young people to study directly in forest areas or areas with potential for natural resources.
Relevant ministries should further boost eco-tourism to restore forests and strengthen law enforcement.
Ministries should also take further action related to climate change.
“Especially, there should be enhanced cooperation between civil society organisations, communities and the government to work together,” he said.
“This is a good mechanism to increase strategic cooperation for the protection of natural resources, the environment and against climate change.”
Secretary general of the Coalition of Cambodia Farmers Community Theng Savoeun said development growth, the increase in electricity use, deforestation, the use of plastic and the increasing use of chemicals were factors causing global warming and climate change.
“When substances that destroy the environment increase due to human consumption and people do not think about saving the earth, environmental issues will also be affected,” he said.
“And the most important thing is plastic. It doesn’t disappear even if it’s buried in the soil, or it will release substances that are very harmful to the environment when it is burned.”
He asked the Ministry of Environment and other institutions to take further measures to reduce the use of plastic by using paper or glass bottles instead of packaging everything.
He called for the government to provide money to the sub-national level to reforest along rice-field dykes or in the community.
It should encourage companies and restaurants to increase organisation of green gardens.
Representative of Prey Lang community network in Preah Vihear province Srey Thiy also asked the government to take strict action on forestry crimes at protected areas nationwide and for reforestation, especially at social land concession areas which had not been developed.
In response, Choub Paris, deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Environment’s National Council for Sustainable Development, said the government had established many mechanisms at national level and joined the international community’s response to climate change.
These mechanisms included creating jobs and improving community livelihoods in protected areas to reduce the collection of forest products.
Other measures were increasing awareness of climate change, curbing land concessions, taking back abandoned land concessions, rehabilitation of forests and reduction of plastic use.
However, he said: “We have a lot of mechanisms and we have made an effort to do a lot of work, but I also recognise that our civil servants are limited in both capacity and quantity.
“Therefore, I have asked that we have to work and get involved together in this work.”