In order to enable sustainable development in the Kingdom, the government yesterday signed an agreement with Sweden and the United Nations Development Programme to sanction a two-year project aimed at providing solutions to environmental problems.
These problems include environmental degradation, growing waste and access to affordable clean energy.
Tim Ponlok, secretary-general of the National Council for Sustainable Development, yesterday said the funding will come from Sweden and technical support will be provided by UNDP.
“This new project will test and demonstrate innovative approaches to protect natural resources and the environment by reducing waste and providing clean and affordable energy,” Mr Ponlok said.
According to a joint-press release, the government has designated 40 percent of land as protected. Now it wants to know how to manage these areas.
“This project aims to empower rural communities to actively engage in sustainable management of resources and seek to mobilise financial resources through innovative financing schemes to ensure the conservation and protection of vital resources,” the statement said.
It said that the rapidly growing volume of solid waste has become particularly alarming in major cities.
Phnom Penh, for instance, generates more than 2,300 tonnes of waste per day and more than 80 percent of this waste consists of recyclable materials. However, current waste management practices focus mainly on collection and disposal without formal sorting, recycling, or reuse of waste.
“This project will promote new approaches for both producers and consumers to reduce, reuse and recycle materials, with the aim to minimise environmental impacts,” it added.
As for energy, the release said the government is committed to increasing the coverage areas of electrical grids. The government wants nationwide coverage of electricity by 2020, with 70 percent reception by 2030.
“This project will unlock the potential of solar energy by removing policy, technical and financial barriers with the aim of providing reliable and affordable electricity to those living in remote communities,” it said.
UNDP representative Nick Beresford said solar energy presents Cambodia with an opportunity to develop economically and take care of the environment.
“Many recently arrived upper middle-income countries are facing huge bills and serious social stresses as they try to clean up after fast but environmentally damaging economic growth,” Mr Beresford said. “This is however avoidable – if corrective action is taken now.”
Swedish Ambassador Maria Sargren said her government will continue to side with Cambodia when it comes to sustainable development.
“The government of Sweden is delighted to support this project as we strive to promote innovative approaches to sustaining natural resources, development of a circular economy and expanding energy access in order to assist Cambodia’s move toward environmental sustainability,” Ms Sargren said.