The first full day of the Cambodia Climate Change Summit 2022 (CCCS22), which is hosted by the Ministry of Environment (MoE) in partnership with the Mekong Future Initiative (MFI) began with a plethora of activities that included presentations, discussions, forums, demonstrations, panel and round table talks plus more.
Proceedings got underway with opening remarks by H.E and Minister of Environment Say Samal, US Ambassador W Patrick Murphy and Director General of Mekong Future Initiative Allen Dodgson Tan.
H.E Say Samal said that CCCS22 is a one-of-a-kind event, both of which is important for recognizing Cambodia’s progress but also to continue to collaborate for a more sustainable future.
“It is also important to look at the progress made by Cambodia and share the best practices for making Cambodia greener and more resilient to the negative effects of climate change. However, serious issues remain, and the need to increase finance to enable us to fight and adapt in the face of climate change issues,” Samal said.
He added that Cambodia has been doing its best to help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, joining multiple multilateral eco agreements from around the world.
“We have become the first country in the ASEAN to submit a long-term strategy for carbon neutrality by 2050. This shows that we are committed to building a green, resilient and sustainable pathway forward for Cambodia. We have seen that as we emerge from this pandemic, private and public investment in green technology has increased and this will spur innovation in this sector, and we encourage collaboration and technology transfer. To continue our adaption, we need to get finance and transfer of technology to implement new value chains,” Samal said.
Bold action is needed
US Ambassador W Patrick Murphy said, “The United States is committed to leading and taking bold action to confront the climate crisis and strengthen energy security. At COP26, President Biden announced $3 billion in adaptation financing to reduce climate change impacts on those most vulnerable. Through regional initiatives under our Mekong-U.S. Partnership, we are expanding green energy solutions and working with regional officials to address waste management issues.
To read more about USAID expanding carbon credit markets in Cambodia click here.
In Cambodia, the United States has invested over $100 million in foreign assistance focused on combating climate change, including facilitating the sale of more than $40 million in carbon credits to U.S. companies such as The Walt Disney Company and Delta Airlines. In the last five years, USAID Cambodia’s agriculture and environment activities have helped Cambodian farmers apply climate-smart agricultural practices and eliminated an estimated 25 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking almost five million cars off of the road for a year.
“At U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, renewable rooftop solar energy supplies over 10 percent of our power, with more to come, and we have installed a charging station to accommodate our electric vehicle and to transition to additional EVs. Our energy efficiency initiatives and active recycling and composting programs ensure that we do our part to maintain a healthy and vibrant environment in the Kingdom,” he added.
Speaking on how the summit has taken steps to demonstrate sustainability, Allen Dodgson Tan said, “It’s my pleasure to be hosting the first-ever in-person and carbon-neutral summit in Cambodia.”
“This has been possible by not only our commitment to planting enough trees to neutralize the impact of the summit but also by taking steps to reduce and reuse resources where possible. We have done this by eliminating printed PVC backgrounds and banners, switching to digital for our programs and other materials and implementing a reuse strategy for things like name cards so that they are used in other events in the future,” Tan said.
“We have also agreed with the venue hosting this event, Borei Angkor Hotel, to stop giving plastic bottled water to guests, which they will adopt as a policy going forward. It’s steps towards sustainability through collaboration like this that we can share that will reduce our negative impact on the planet,” he added.
Further collaboration between nations
Following the opening remarks was a talk on International Policy, delivered in collaboration by the Ministry of Environment, USAID, and the British and Australian Embassies, discussing issues such as how to access green aid and regarding further collaboration between nations moving forward.
British Ambassador Dominic Williams said on Climate Change, bold action is needed.
“It felt bold – and entirely appropriate – to drive our flag car, the fully electric Jaguar I-pace, for the first time from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap to join the Cambodian Climate Change Summit. This event is a great opportunity to bring together government, civil society and the private sector to identify ways of driving forward the green energy transition in Cambodia,” Williams said.
Sevea Consulting then presented the Cambodia Energy Efficiency Competition, an initiative to help save energy in Cambodia, with the winners being announced next week before the morning rounded off with a special panel discussion involving private sector partners, the Corporate Thought Leaders talk.
The talk was opened by Richard Chen, Director of the Sustainable Economic Growth Office at USAID, who was joined by Suy Channtharong, Chief Underwriting Officer at Forte Insurance (Cambodia) Plc, Anne De Graaf, Corporate Affairs Director at Heineken Cambodia and Chem Srey Oeun, Head of Corporate Affairs at Smart Axiata.
When asked by Richard Chen all leaders agreed that building sustainability into private sector operations is key to mitigating the effects of climate change.
Chem Srey Oeun said that Smart has taken steps to incorporate sustainability by making changes in its product offerings.
“We have introduced new E-sim cards, which reduce the waste packaging that comes when someone orders a new sim card. We have delivered some 8 million sim cards in Cambodia so reducing the packaging is a big step forward. We have also promoted E-top up methods and e-wallets, so that by going digital we can reduce the need to produce materials, lowering our impact,” Srey Oeun said.
Building sustainability into private sectors operations
Speaking on why it was important for the private sector to participate in events like CCCS22, Suy Channtharong of Forte said that he was aware that as a company they needed to give back to society and was why they wanted to participate in the summit.
“We have a corporate commitment, which we have demonstrated through our tree planting activities and educational programs in schools, teaching the next generation about the importance of protecting the environment,” Suy said.
“At Forte we have also been carrying out training and awareness programmes for farmers and agricultural organizations in line with our agriculture insurance product. This product is helping farmers protect themselves against economic shocks caused by natural disasters, which means creates more sustainable farming practices in the country,” he added.
When asked about what the private sector can do more, Anne of Heineken said it is important for us all to look at ways in which we can do more.
“For us, we can look at the way we produce our products, such as moving production locally to reduce our transportation impact. We think events like this are important as we want to listen, learn and share ideas on climate change mitigation. Togetherness is key as we all work towards the common goal of creating a sustainable future,” Anne said.
Following lunch, a range of presentations and discussions were delivered by local and international partners across two rooms. Break out room one saw USAID – Green Invest Asia deliver a presentation on Net Zero Pathways, the Australian Embassy talk on Supporting Cambodia’s clean energy transition, the British Embassy present on energy efficiency & market opportunities, Oxfam discuss joint efforts to safeguard the Mekong’s ecosystems before the USAID talked community-driven approaches on climate resilience.
Break out room two saw BritCham deliver a talk on eco-tourism, iDE Global discuss climate-resilient horticulture technologies and practices, and a short talk was then held about the future of electric vehicles before USAID – Green Invest Asia talked about what it takes to access climate finance, with YEAC finishing breakroom activities with a green business forum discussion.
The official sponsor and partner of the event are USAID, with further sponsorship support coming from Forte Insurance, Heineken, Oxfam Cambodia & Smart Axiata.
Other contributing partners include the American Embassy, the Australian Embassy, the British Embassy, BritCham, YEAC, and iDE Globe.