Speech by Deputy Country Director Sophie Baranes at media briefing on Cambodia Human Development Report 2011
Opening Remarks by Sophie Baranes
UNDP Cambodia Deputy Country Director
At the media briefing on the Cambodia Human Development Report 2011
29 August 2011
Dr. Tin Ponlok, Deputy Director General,
Climate Change Department, Ministry of Environment,
Colleagues from the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to warmly welcome you to this media briefing to discuss the findings and recommendations of the Cambodia Human Development Report 2011, which is entitled Building Resilience: The Future of Rural Livelihoods in the Face of Climate Change in Cambodia.
This Report was produced in close collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, and in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including Government counterparts, development partners, civil society. UNDP is very pleased to jointly present the main findings of this independent report with the Ministry of Environment today in their capacity as Chair of the National Committee for Climate Change, and to present together the key recommendations emerging from this study.
While some of us may still see sometimes climate change as an environmental issue, it is very important that we realise the fundamental development challenge it poses for the country and for all countries in the region and the world. The effects of climate change will be felt first and hardest by the poorest and most vulnerable, meaning those least able to adapt and respond to such changes.
In terms of the anticipated effects of climate change, Cambodia is one of the most vulnerable countries in South-East Asia due to its limited adaptive capacity. Like many other countries in the region, Cambodia is expected to experience higher and more intense rainfall. The effects are also likely to include more severe water scarcity and at the same time more frequent floods, resulting potentially in crop failure and also resulting in food shortages. There is also an expected increased incidence of disease will take a heavy toll on human development and poverty reduction accomplishments in this country.
So, it is in the context of these predictions that this Report stresses the need to move away from “Predict and Act” approach and instead to take actions that we describe as “No Regrets” actions. And I think we will have the opportunity to explain what we mean by “No Regrets” actions today. But these are basically actions that will improve the adaptive capacity of society, of the country in response to any form of shocks or crisis, even regardless of the impacts of climate change in Cambodia. A typical example of “No Regrets” action is, for instance, investing in social safety nets, which will improve the ability of the poorest to respond to shocks and crises, whether they result from an illness, a disaster, or the impacts of climate change. Another example is investment in irrigation infrastructure. This would improve, naturally, agricultural livelihoods, but can also help prepare vulnerable communities to cope with the anticipated effects of climate change.
One other highlight of this report is what we call the focus on local action. Climate change efforts thus far have largely been concentrated on the national and international level negotiation and discussion. Local planning and action, bringing different sectors together in what we call integrated development planning that responds to local needs and circumstances, is maybe where we have the greatest potential to build resilient rural livelihoods. Cambodia is actually well positioned to deal with climate change at the local level as we have the ongoing sub-national democratic development reform, or decentralization and deconcentration. This really presents an opportunity to determine what is required when we talk about mainstreaming climate change in local development? What roles will be played by different actors? Who will be responsible to plan our adaptation to climate change? Communities, Government, private sector, civil society, all of this will need to be defined at local levels.
There is one programme which is more of an alliance, we call it the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance, between the Royal Government of Cambodia, the UN, UNDP and EU member states delegation who are really working closely with central and local Governments to support capacity development, to support institutional strengthening, to prepare for and mitigate climate change risks, and to help vulnerable communities by enhancing their resilience.
To conclude, to further promote the resilience of Cambodian society, and by resilience I mean the ability to recover from any form of crisis, future development efforts at national and local level will need to include a climate change perspective. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding climate change. It is difficult to make any prediction, but Cambodia is really well-poised to both contribute to global efforts to mitigate its effects while still pursuing its development goals. In doing so, this country can provide a real example of inclusive, adaptive and sustainable development.
We do hope that this report will continue to inform the ongoing dialogue on Cambodia’s response to climate change, and that we can start this discussion today. We are very proud to launch this report together, and we hope to have the opportunity to answer some of your questions today.
Thank you very much for your attention.