Environmental organisations and associations have called on the government to increase the budget for activities related to the protection of natural resources and the environment, as well as strengthening law enforcement, as young people express concern over climate change.
The request was made through a joint statement between the Youth for Society, the Cambodian Youth Network, Equitable Cambodia, Cambodian Volunteers for Society and young individuals participating in World Environment Day celebrations on Friday.
World Environment Day annually falls on June 5, a day marked worldwide to raise awareness on the protection of the environment.
The youths also met with representatives of the Environment Ministry on Friday to discuss concerns of deforestation, other environmental issues as well as the negative impact of climate change.
A joint statement representing the youths stated that they welcome the government’s efforts to create protected areas, protect natural resources and to increase investment in solar energy.
However, they are also deeply concerned about the negative impact of climate change on Cambodia, which they note is affecting the health and livelihoods of the people, especially the agriculture sector. They further noted that climate change affects the environment, as well as economic and social development.
“Through a discussion between the youth, we see that loss of forest and natural resources, pollution in rivers and seas from development projects, and improper waste management have all been affecting the environment, contributing to climate change and the resilience to climate change of the Cambodian people,” the statement said.
Through the statement, they called on the government to strengthen law enforcement, monitor local officials responsible for law enforcement, stop granting economic land concessions, increase education on the environment, create a waste processing plant and create a policy to increase the tax on plastic.
“[We] request the government to increase the budget package for natural resources and environmental protection activities,” the statement said.
Tim Malay, director of the Cambodian Youth Network, after meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Environment on Friday, said that law enforcement and crackdowns to protect natural resources are still weak.
“Weak law enforcement means that sometimes they do not take action on the perpetrator or even release them after taking action,” Mr Malay said. “And sometimes even encourage those that break the law, making laws ineffective, and causing fear among those who protect the environment. So, from the government, if there is no strict law enforcement and abiding by the law, even if the state or the people want to protect the environment, there would still be fear and risk of injustice.”
Neth Pheaktra, Environment Ministry spokesman, yesterday said the ministry and the government in general are aware of the concerns and had already addressed some of the issues noted in the statement.
“The Ministry of Environment agreed to listen to the concerns, as well as the requests from youth, and the ministry will look into the issues,” Mr Pheaktra said.