Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, I have a great honor and pleasure to address the joint launching of the Coast Zone Recourse Centers of Sihanoukville, Kep City, Kampot and Koh Kong provinces, here in Sihanoukville. All these are the new achievements attained under the corporation and with contribution from Danish Government.
This joyful gathering testifies our participation in witnessing the very important historical event in the protection of the environment of coastal and maritime zones. The centers will support the government efforts in the development of human resource, dissemination of technical information and the development of environmental and socio-economic information system of coastal and marine zones. It is indeed a priority area consistent with the Royal Government’s objective to strengthen decentralization and de-concentration policies, which have made considerable progress.
On the behalf of the RGC, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the management team and all the civil servants of the Ministry of Environment for their cooperation in establishing these resource centers, covering the four coastal areas. These will ensure the strengthening of capacity, information shearing, monitoring and controlling of the environment and natural resources, and they will also ensure an appropriate planning and decision making process.
On behalf of the People and RGC, may I take this opportunity to express my deepest thanks to the Danish Government for its financial and technical contributions to the development of the Coastal Zone Recourse Centers, and also for its support in strengthening the role of research, monitoring and evaluation of the environment and natural resources in sustainable development and efficient use of coastal and marine resources, both for the current and future generations.
Due to rapid world population growth and depletion of natural resources, all individual countries are forced to have the development plans in place, which take into consideration the balance between development resources and environmental management, – in order to increase welfare, ensure food security, and provide shelters, energy and other necessities. In particular, the population density is high in coastal areas across the world, resulted from urban developments including the expansion of tourism and industry sectors, – thus causing threats to natural resources and biodiversity. The growth of cities and expansion of tourism sector in the future will inevitably have an affect on the provision of water and unpredictable environmental changes that could lead to ecological imbalance in the coastal, marine and wetland areas, and will have an impact on other vulnerable elements.
Being aware of this importance, the RGC has the mandate to manage and use the natural resources in an environmentally sustainable way. Thus we have adopted laws with regard to the protection of environment and natural resources, as well as the land law, the law on forestry and fisheries, etc. All these are the response to needs, and guarantee the effectiveness and sustainability.
Indeed, the Coastal Area Recourse Centers are the focal points in capacity building. It is a forum for exchange and dialogue, and where the technical knowledge, lessons and experiences can be shared for the purpose of identification of priority issues, development of strategies, plans and activities, and the education and dissemination to the population and public at large, through documentation, research and actual implementation through learning and replication. Furthermore, proper and reliable information on scientific and technological developments will contribute to appropriate planning and decision making process with the aim to enhance social standards and preservation of environment in coastal areas of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the National Committee for Coastal Area Management, that during the past 7 years it has tightened its cooperation efforts in the administration of the protected coastal areas, — including the prevention of illegal activities along the coastal areas, the improvement in term of de-concentration giving greater power and rights to provinces/cities in the management of coastal areas, as well as the delegation of power in using natural resources, with the objective to increase living standards and strengthen the people participation in the establishment of local communities within the coastal areas, thus promoting sustainable use of natural resources.
As we all aware, the Kingdom of Cambodia is well located geographically, with the total coastline of 435 km in such provinces/cities as Koh Kong, Sihanoukville, Kampot and Keap. At present, natural resources of the coastal and maritime areas greatly contribute to economic development activities, including “boat tourism”, transportation of goods, port and fishery activities, development of industrial and tourism sectors and other opportunities for people to earn incomes. Furthermore, the development of coastal areas is considered by RGC as one of the priorities in our economic development strategy, which is focusing on the welfare and sustainable development of natural environment for our future generation.
In this context, in the implementation of the socio-economic development plan with the objective to reduce poverty among our people, the RGC has given a high priority to a sustainable management and use of resources, which is the most important factor to ensure balance and continuity of development including preservation of environment in coastal and sea areas. In the past, RGC has been invested considerable resources to promote economic development and improve the living standards and population welfare. Indeed, this development effort needs support from bilateral international donors in short run. However, in the future it will largely depend on sustainable use of natural resources.
In the Second 5-year Socio-economic Development Plan 2001-2005, for all these reasons, there is a clear emphasis on the need to ensure a balance between economical, cultural and environmental objectives as well as between economic effectiveness and equity in the use of those resources. We have raised key strategies, such as preventing environmental and natural resources depletion, developing and implementing legal frameworks regarding natural resource management, increasing human capacity in the management of natural resources and planning and implementing of land management framework to provide the poor people with a proper land, taking into consideration the rights of local communities in using public and common resources.
In the framework of all these strategies and policies, the RGC recognizes the linkage between poverty reduction strategy and the environmental protection as well as the preservation of natural resource. Furthermore, the RGC also recognizes the importance of civil society responsibility in ensuring the best practice of environmental protection and environmental development.
The RGC profoundly understands that in order to resolve the environmental problems of coastal and marine areas, such as sea contamination, illegal fishing, deterioration of biodiversity, shortage of clean water, declined quality of environment, improper use of land and so on, it requires harmonization and coordination among partner institutions, and cooperation between public and private sectors including participation of local community in taking responsibility and also mobilizing efforts at community, city and provincial authority levels and at national level, in the environment protection and natural resource management.
Indeed, if there is no participation and support from the people, environment in coastal and marine areas cannot be assured of its balance. Moreover, in order to assure the efficiency and sustainability of the protection of coastal and marine areas, we must continue our utmost efforts in implementing and preparing laws, regulations and policy on coastal zones and in strengthening the capacity within each institution as well as building capacity of public officials in all level of the administration. At the same time, all these tasks have broad dimension which requires participation and cooperation from all partners at national, provincial/municipal level, especially from local community, civil society and donor community in order to ensure the environmental continuity of the use of resources and development in coastal and marine zone for the benefit of current and future generations.
Within the framework of international sea environment policy, Cambodia has entered into several international conventions such as “International Convention on Prevention of Marine Pollution” in 1994, “International Convention on Climate Change” in 1995, “International Convention on Biological Diversity” and “International Convention on Wetlands” in 1999. Furthermore, the RG has cooperated at regional level with “East Asian Seas Coordination Organization” in 1995 and has joined the “Joint Declaration on Regional Cooperation for Sustainable Development in East Asian Seas” in 2003.
At the same time, the RGC highly appreciates the efforts in active participation and the important supports provided to Cambodia by bilateral and multilateral donors, the private sector, civil society and NGOs. These participation and supports are of great importance in preventing the degradation of natural resource, especially in assuring that response to development needs would not destroy natural resource and that high quality environment is preserved. On one hand, main strategies are to build capacity of state institutions in planning and implementing programs for the management of long term sustainable development. Specifically, in many environment management projects, we have implemented training and human resource development programs, planning for provinces/cities in coastal zone, establishing communities for natural resource management and developing environmental, socio-economic information management system of coastal and maritime area.
I take this opportunity to appeal to all the fishermen in maritime areas to stop illegal fishing activities including the using of equipments that are harmful to maritime resources, — such as using fishing net in the areas with less than 20 meters depth, destroying corals using explosives, razing sea grass, cutting mangrove forest and ruining fish shelters. All these destruction have degraded biodiversity resource and ecological system in coastal and maritime area as well as destroyed environment quality.
Likewise, sources of maritime pollution are broad: industrial factories, oil transport, solid and liquid wastes from houses and hotels as well as tourism development. This would have great impact on environment quality that requires preservation and protection for clean environment in order to preserve well-being and prosperity of people.
In addition, the Ministry of Environment with other concerned ministries and local authorities must pay greater attention to protecting and preventing the above mentioned sources of destruction. so that the “Coastal Zone Resource Center” which is to be inaugurated today would contribute to scientific and technical environment research. This will surely contribute to the national economic development and poverty reduction, especially to the objective of decentralization and deconcentration which are mutually supporting and consistent with policy of the Royal Government.
Once again, on behalf of the Royal Government and the Cambodian people and my own self, I propose Your Excellency Ambassador or the Representative of the Kingdom of Denmark to convey our thanks and profound gratitude to the Royal Government and People of Denmark for your contribution to the creation of these “Coastal Zone Resource Centers” in the four provinces and cities, as well as the support to human resource development ensuring sustainable use of natural resource and national development.
Taking this occasion let me express my thanks to donors and all our development partners who have actively participated in the development of Cambodia and in significantly changing the image of Cambodia. The Cambodian people will surely engrave this kind gesture in their mind and heart forever.
I hope that the Ministry of Environment will successfully implement human development plan and coastal/maritime zone environment research for public and national benefit, in order to contribute to rapid poverty reduction and integration of Cambodia to regional and international community, with the potential both in term of quantity and quality. Furthermore, the Ministry of Environment must sustain and advance all these achievements forever lasting.
In conclusion, let me wish you all, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen the five gems of Buddhist wishes. For the cause of “Growth, Employment, Equity and Efficiency” of Cambodia, I have a great pleasure to declare the inauguration of the “Coastal Zone Resource Centers” for the four provinces and cities from now on.