At a glance
Cambodia remains among the countries most vulnerable to climate change, and the Government has long recognised the importance of responding to it. The Cambodia Climate Change Alliance (CCCA) programme was launched in 2010 and is currently in its second phase, ending in June 2019. It is fully aligned with national institutional arrangements for climate change, and supports the implementation of the Cambodia Climate Change Strategic Plan (CCCSP, 2014-23). Under the leadership of the National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD), the first two phases of CCCA have shown very encouraging results and were instrumental in building key elements of the climate change response over the past years, including climate change plans at national and sector levels, a financing framework, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and support to a first generation of climate change projects. However, constrains to an effective and lasting climate change response have been identified. They include the need to deepen the programme’s impacts and ensure their sustainability, to consolidate achievements in key sectors, to expand mitigation efforts, to further capacity development and innovation including at sub-national levels, to promote active engagement from relevant national stakeholders including Academia/research bodies and the private sector, and to mobilize and sustain climate financing. In alignment with the NDC vision, the specific objective of CCCA over the 2019-2023 periods is to scale-up the Cambodian response to climate change in strategic sectors.
Cambodia is highly vulnerable to climate impacts as a result of its geography, high reliance on agriculture and fisheries, socio-economic fragility and a low adaptive capacity resulting from the shortage of technically skilled human resources, institutional capacities and adaptation financing. Over 80% of the population live in rural areas and is overly exposed to increasing and more unpredictable floods and prolonged droughts. Unsustainable exploitation of natural resources and unfit water management systems further compromise the coping strategies of rural communities and increase food insecurity concerns. With nearly 30% of GDP dependent on agriculture, fisheries and forestry, the Cambodian economy is also highly vulnerable to climate impacts. At micro and macro levels, difficulties to manage climate risks are aggravated by the very limited availability of reliable climate information.
Recent public perception studies show that awareness of climate impacts and political support for climate action has increased in recent years. In late 2018, the development of a new National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) for the period 2019-2023 will provide an opportunity to fully mainstream climate action into the national development strategy and in key sectoral plans.
After two decades of sustained economic growth, with an average annual GDP increase of 7%, Cambodia achieved lower-middle income status in 2015 and currently ambitions graduation as an upper middle-income country by 2030. Tourism, garment and construction industries are expected to keep fuelling economic growth sustained by a gradual diversification of the economy, further industrialization and deployment of infrastructure. Despite reliance on international assistance, political and economic stability have favoured Foreign Direct Investment, overwhelmingly led by China and followed by other regional investors. Despite job creation in textile industry, the Cambodian economy doesn’t create enough jobs for its young but generally unprepared workforce (median age is 25 years) and many migrate to neighbouring countries such as Thailand.
The steep economic growth in Cambodia comes with an exponential increase of construction projects, industrial expansion and infrastructure development, largely led by private and foreign investors. Yet, it is Government institutions that are responsible to ensure that the country’s development path is inclusive (the most vulnerable are not left behind) and sustainable (economic growth is decoupled from carbon-intensity). A number of challenges exist in the country’s institutional framework that could hinder Cambodia’s sustainability. Incentive schemes that could unlock a low-carbon growth with development co-benefits are missing. Technical and analytical capacities to assess policy options and to enforce regulations are lacking thus opportunities to climate-proof investments and adopt low-carbon paths go untapped. Responsible private investors ready to embark on green solutions cannot benefit from an enabling policy framework. Policy-makers and planners (at sectoral, sub-national level) often lack the information and the knowledge they need to drive effective climate responses because the capacity to generate, manage and use climate information is weak.
To be able to leapfrog into a climate resilient and low carbon development path, three drivers have been identified: the capacity to generate, manage and use climate information, the institutional capacity to transform the policy framework into a climate-sensitive one and the capacity to mobilise financing and shift investment decisions towards sustainability.