Cambodia Investment Review

EuroCham Green Business Forum 2023: Cambodia’s Strategic Shift to Sustainable Policies and Eco-Investments

EuroCham Green Business Forum 2023: Cambodia’s Strategic Shift to Sustainable Policies and Eco-Investments

Vijian Paramasivam

Cambodia, is beginning to navigate its own path towards sustainability and green growth. As impacts of climate change, especially on the vulnerable agriculture sector, become increasingly apparent, the urgency of Cambodia’s movement towards eco-friendly policies and green investments becomes clearer and more pressing.

The European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham) Green Business Forum, organized a full-day event with various stakeholders— including environmental experts, NGOs, and businesses— hosted at the Oakwood Premier Phnom Penh. The event represented a platform for discourse and knowledge sharing on the crucial subject of environmental protection and sustainable growth.

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The forum brought into focus the tangible ways in which economies around the world are grappling with the challenges of global warming, and how innovative, eco-friendly strategies can play a crucial role in navigating these challenges.

More resilient and future-proofed Cambodia

Tassilo Brinzer, the chairman of EuroCham, emphasized the paramount importance of sustainability and green economy. He underscored the belief that it is this eco-centric vision that must pervade every aspect of economic and social development, in order to create a more resilient and future-proofed Cambodia.

“Sustainability and greening the economy is the overarching subject that touches all areas of our work,” Brinzer stated. “We believe that the legal and governance frameworks need to be developed, and regulations implemented efficiently, to attract high-quality international investments that can support the country.”

Tassilo Brinzer, the chairman of EuroCham.

The Cambodian government has outlined its commitment to a greener future through the National Strategic Plan on Green Growth 2013 – 2030. The strategy delineates a detailed roadmap for the transformation of the country’s economy, focusing on the efficient use of natural resources, the promotion of green jobs, the development of green technologies, environmental sustainability, green taxation, and green financing.

Multifaceted approach towards sustainability

Secretary of State at the Ministry of Environment, H.E. Tin Ponlok, further expounded on the government’s holistic and multifaceted approach towards sustainable development. Recognizing the urgency of climate change, Ponlok highlighted the need for economic resilience and innovative adaptation.

“With climate change becoming more serious, we cannot ignore it. It is our responsibility to ensure our economy is more resilient and sustainable, and this requires diversification and efficient use of resources,” Ponlok affirmed. His words encapsulated the government’s pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, with Cambodia aiming to be the first ASEAN country to realize this goal.

Secretary of State at the Ministry of Environment, H.E. Tin Ponlok.

The event also showcased practical implementations of the green vision, such as Heineken Cambodia’s innovative move towards a circular economy. Their “Brewing a Better Cambodia” initiative is a testament to how businesses can instigate significant environmental change. It involves a sustainable and cyclical system of recycling used beer bottles. Restaurants and bar owners are encouraged to collect empty bottles, which are then cleaned and returned to the brewery for reuse.

Creating a circular economy in Cambodia

Jeroen Schoorel, Heineken Cambodia’s Premium Portfolio Manager, expressed his pride in this pioneering strategy. “We are creating a circular economy. Our recycled bottles can be reused 20 times. This system allows us to bring back 90 percent of our bottles. In this way, we protect the bottles better, and we have less waste.”

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In line with the global movement against single-use plastics, the Cambodian government is mulling over increasing the price of plastic bags from 400 riel to 600 riel per piece, aiming to reduce their rampant use. With plastic bags accounting for a staggering 10% of the total waste in Phnom Penh, this initiative represents an urgent response to a pressing environmental issue.

More than 100 stakeholders form various sectors of Cambodia’s business community attended the event.

“We are committed to partially banning single-use plastics by 2024 and see how the market reacts,” revealed Kith Chankrisna from the Ministry of Environment. He further explained the proposed decree which, once approved, would increase the plastic levy and enforce a partial ban on single-use plastics.

Cambodia’s comprehensive green transformation, exemplified by these bold initiatives and policies, offers a beacon of hope in an increasingly climate-stressed world. The country’s journey underscores the importance of integrating sustainability, policy reforms, and green investments in a unified strategy to secure a resilient and thriving future. As Cambodia continues to shape its sustainable path, it provides valuable lessons for nations worldwide grappling with similar environmental challenges.

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