Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Distinguished National and International Guests,
Today, I am pleased to attend the “Inauguration of the National Council for Green Development and the Dissemination of the National Policy on Green Development and National Strategic Plan on Green Development 2013-2030”. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my appreciation to the management, officials of the Ministry of Environment and the National Council for Green Development for working hard together to organize this ceremony.
Today’s inauguration indeed reflects our firm commitment to intensify implementation of various policies and national strategic plans of the Royal Government. Overall, starting from the implementation of these adopted policies and strategies, numerous socio-economic achievements have been realized. Our immediate assignment is to continue to formulate and implement national policies and strategic plans, including the National Policy and Strategic Development Plan on Green Development 2013-2030 to continue promoting green development in the Kingdom of Cambodia, since Green Development will lead to sustainable and continuous socio-economic development through the efficient use of raw materials and natural resources, energy savings, waste minimization, clean development, green preservation, and natural heritage preservation and such.
What we are doing now is in line with the United Nations principles for sustainable development which regards Green Development as the key means for achieving economic, social, environmental and cultural development in a sustainable manner. Overall, achieving the Green Development Goals helps protecting the Earth by balancing the supporting capacity of the Earth for the needs of human beings; and this development model will promote low CO2 emission development activities to better our people’s welfare, living standard and poverty reduction.
In this context, the Royal Government has formulated this National Policy and Strategic Development Plan on Green Development 2013-2030 to complement the economic development effort to better balance it with environmental protection and ensure the responsible management of natural resources such as water, land, forest, fish and ecosystem, poverty reduction, livelihood improvement, health and education systems improvement, good governance at national and sub-national levels, as well as infrastructure improvement and the natural heritage preservation and such.
Truly, the Kingdom of Cambodia is rich in natural resources such as land, water, mines, forest and fish. However, in the next phase of development, improved governance and management of natural resources will be critical to ensure their productive and sustainable use of natural resources, and their genuine contribution to the socio-economic progress and improvement of our people’s living standard. Indeed, we need to ensure certainty and security of land ownership in both rural and urban areas and important role of economic and social land concessions in promoting large scale agriculture projects, improving productivity, creating rural jobs, and ensuring access to productive land for the poor and ethnic minorities, as these remain fundamental elements of the national strategy and policy framework. Regarding the Royal Government’s policy on land, the Royal Government has provided 1.5 million hectares of economic land concession to private companies. Investment in rubber plantation accounts for 80% or 1.2 million hectares. At present, 300,000 hectares of the land have been cultivated, employing 100,000 workers. In the next 5 years, 70% of rubber plantation will be cultivated while 840,000 hectares of rubber plantation will be tapped for latex and 1.3 million workers will be employed. To do this, 1.5 million hectares of forest cover are converted to economic land concession, there still remain 9.2 million hectares of forest cover. This shows that the Royal Government carefully balances the needs to create jobs to reduce poverty and migration and the necessity to protect the environment and natural resources. In addition, rubber trees are considered forest cover, hence the 1.2 million hectares of rubber plantations and the creation of 1.3 million jobs for the people, in other words, are contributions to preserving forest cover and enhancing the people’s livelihoods.
In particular, in the implementation of the “Old Policy with New Activity on Land”, the Royal Government plans to issue land titles covering 1.8 million hectares of land in 20 provinces to the people. Up to present, 670,000 hectares of land have been checked and distributed to 320,000 families. It is expected that the task will be completed at the end of 2013 in order to live up to our slogan “No landless Farmers”. In this spirit, I have accelerated the distribution and issuance of land ownership titles with demarcation assistance provided by thousands of youth volunteers, resulting in the issuance of land ownership titles for 160,000 lots of land to people in rural areas.
Alongside the success in the implementation of Old Policy with New Activity on Land, the in-depth reform of fishery sector has not only increased freshwater fishing lots for household consumption, but also natural fish abundance which allows our people to use this resource with ownership. Overall, this reform has contributed to the conservation of fish and the improvement of the people’s livelihoods.
In addition, the Royal Government has regarded Water Policy as a priority policy for the management of water resources, water sources, quality of water and the protection of wet soil and gradient areas in order to secure the continuity of water supply which must compromise between development needs and conversation for ecological stability, and the source of nutritious foods. The vision on water security aims to ensure the equitable, efficient, and sustained use of water and water resources in order to ensure adequate supply of clean water and multipurpose water to people, farmers, enterprises, and general users, based on the principle of water safety, sufficiency of water sources, water quality, hygiene, and reasonable costs. Truly, the important basis for ensuring the sustainability, safety, and quality of water supply in Cambodia requires full involvements from all relevant stakeholders at both national and sub-national levels, including general water users, through steady implementations of policies and regulations related to water use and management.
In parallel, Cambodia has aggressively implemented various policies and strategies aimed to enhance and develop networks of roads, waterways, railways, ports and other means of transport in order to ensure safe transportation for businesses as well as tourists. In fact, roads paved with asphalt accounted for 33.2% of the total road length of 11, 914 Kilometers in 2011. Cambodia needs to put more effort into the Development of Green Infrastructure and Green Transportation. Green infrastructure is highly encouraged as it can help mitigate environmental impact and the associated negative aspects. Green transportation is also highly encouraged, due to the very low level of environmental pollution. The development of transport network is a critical factor in Cambodia because we still face some ongoing challenges such as traffic congestion, lack of public transport service, violation of traffic law, lack of vehicle safety inspection and too narrow sidewalk space for pedestrians and so forth. Therefore, to implement this strategy successfully, we have to continue taking serious action by setting up green roads, planting more trees, conserving the forest, and encouraging the use of electric public buses and electric trains, vehicles powered by renewable energy, electric bicycles and electric motorbike instead of petrol-powered or diesel-powered vehicles and mandating the regular check of CO2 emission from cars.
With regard to the development of energy sector, a good progress has been achieved, thanks to concerted effort of the Royal Government and its successful implementation of the public-private partnership (PPP) schemes. However, more effort is needed to meet the per capita increase of energy demand of 7% per annum. The development of rural electrification remains a priority for the government. In 2009, only 11.5 percent of rural households had access to electricity where majority utilised generator, batteries and kerosene for main sources of lighting. In 2011, the coverage improved to 23.5 percent and almost all households in Phnom Penh (98.9 percent) had access to electricity. However, electricity prices are still too high compared to our neighbors in Southeast Asia. To address these issues, the Royal Government is determined to expand the coverage of electricity supply network nationwide according to its five year plan to achieve “Sustainable Electricity for All” by 2030. Under the plan, we are already seeing progress in increased generation of electricity from both thermal sources (coal, oil and gas) and hydroelectric sources, and import from neighboring countries. By 2020, every village in the country will have electricity, provided by 9 hydropower plants and 8 coal plants, with at least 70% of households having access to electricity by 2030. We also continue to pay attention to renewable energy such as hydropower, wind and solar energy generation and such to ensure energy saving and efficiency.
Systematic development of tourism sector is also one of the priority that can contribute to socio-economic development, job creation, income generation, enhancement of standards of living and poverty reduction. The tourism sector, generally known as “green gold”, is also important component of green growth as revenue from the sector has been immediately injected into the national economic current and has contributed to GDP growth and trade balance. In this aspect, sustained growth of the tourism sector will definitely contribute to the development, protection, and conservation of cultural and historic heritages and natural resources. In this regard, green tourism development must consists of green tourism destinations, green services, green tourists, green food supply and green tourism infrastructure, green environment, green agricultural and industrial products, green transportation as stated in one of our contests on “Clean City, Clean Resort, Good Services”
In addition, the Royal Government also pays very high attention to promoting “gender equity” by streamlining it into all sectors. At present, women are encouraged to participate in all levels of decision making process of economic, social, cultural and environmental affairs, as reflected through this year’s theme of the 102nd International Women’s Day: “equal rights, equal opportunity for accelerating development”.
Indeed, the tasks undertaken in the past along with our future tasks constitute the broad basis for green development in Cambodia.
The National Policy on Green Development and the National Strategic Plan on Green Development 2013-2030 disseminated in this event is our roadmap for national green development which will act as soft green infrastructure, create favourable environment and condition for private investment in green development such as green agriculture, green industry, green infrastructure and transport, green tourism, green building, green energy, green telecommunication, green credit and green financial market. In this sense, we strongly believe that both documents will help propel Cambodian economy toward green development, centering on the efficient use of natural resources, sustainability of the environment, green employment, green technologies and economic reform. Moreover, green incentives such as green tax, green finance, especially green credit, green microfinance and green investment will bring about social development and harmony, improved quality of life, opportunity of green employment for the people and safety for the ecological system through green development that helps maintain the balance between the ecological system and the supporting capacity of the earth.
In fact, the opportunity of green employment has to be created through the utilization of green technologies and promotion of green investment. The green investment refers to the either technical or financial investment on development and conservation in all sectors by ensuring the reduction of impact on the environment and natural resources, in other words, a contribution to improve the environmental quality, maintain ecological system, conserve bio-diversity, and reduce energy consumption and natural resources, carbon emission and environmental pollution. Besides, green agriculture is to ensure food security, food safety and sanitation, thus, the green agriculture will encourage the private sector and all farmers to use natural organic fertilizers, minimize the use of agricultural pesticides and chemical substances, implement crop intensification and promote awareness on green technology for agriculture. Moreover, there must be plans for sustainable use of land, the agro-industry crops, forest management, management of protected areas, creation of forest communities and protected area communities, and private sector investment. In addition, we need to accelerate the registration of state land in protected areas, coastal areas, protected forest area, industrial areas, tourism sites and other uses of land for the public needs by cooperating closely with related ministries-institutions and all levels of local authorities.
We have to continue paying attention to the promotion of green social safety to ensure the management of natural resources, water, land, forest, fisheries, mines and energy to be more sustainable and long-lasting for our next generation. This safety refers to the socio-economic development based on the least carbon emission, environmental sustainability, natural resource sustainability and safety of ecological system, adaptation to and resilience to the climate change by using social protection system, and means of green development, green economy along with the green technology.
This safety will be based on the pillars of national development, especially the green youth, green mothers and green general public with gender equality. Besides, we will continue upgrading the social protection as well as the green culture society based on the quality of life and environmental health and the promotion of welfare of women, children, youth, the disabled, farmers, ethnic minorities, elderly, and the community through green economic growth and green social safety net.
Taking this opportunity, in order to ensure the effectiveness and success of green development with broad participation from all relevant parties, I would like to provide a number of recommendations as follows:
First: the National Council for Green Development must strengthen the capacity of both the institution and implementing officials as well as the management mechanism in order to achieve effectiveness.
Second: the National Council for Green Development must increase cooperation with the concerned stakeholders in order to accomplish its mission and vision. At the same time, related ministries-agencies must provide support to the National Council for Green Development to help accelerate green development in Cambodia.
Third: the National Council for Green Development must pay high attention to the green development at the national and international level in order to ensure the effectiveness of Cambodia’s deepened integration into ASEAN.
Fourth: the National Council for Green Development must broadly disseminate the concept of green development to the private sector, civil society and general public with the objective to promote awareness and participation from all stakeholders.
Fifth: the National Council for Green Development must mobilize financial support for the implementation of national policy and national strategic plan from development partners and stakeholders.
Sixth: the National Council for Green Development must monitor and evaluate the implementation of the each sector in order to reflect the progress and shortcomings of its implementation and works of all related institutions.
Before ending, I would like to emphasize that in order to reach the objectives of green development, we need to have active participation from all related stakeholders either in public or private sector through the implementation of national policy and national strategic plan on green development in order to promote green development in Cambodia towards the green culture society and prosperity, making green development to be recognized as foundation means for economic development, environmental protection, conservation and protection of national cultural heritages including tangible and intangible cultural heritages.
In this regard, I would like to appeal to all ministries-institutions at the national and sub-national levels, local and international development partners, private sector and all people to support and take part in the implementation of the Royal Decree on the organization and functioning of the National Council for Green Development, Sub-decree on the organization and functioning of the Secretariat of the National Green Development Council, National Policy on Green Development and National Strategic Plan on Green Development 2013-2030.
At the end, together with the official inauguration of the “National Council for Green Development and the Dissemination of the National Policy on Green Development and National Strategic Plan on Green Development 2013-2030” today, I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and all Participants the four gems of Buddhism blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Healthiness, and Strength./.