Phnom Penh – Preparation is gathering steam for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Brazil on 20-22 June this year. In Cambodia, the government has begun reviewing development gains and gaps in gearing towards the upcoming global forum known as the Rio+20 conference.
Cambodia’s position going to this conference will be reflected in the National Sustainable Development Report the making of which was the main topic of an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by H.E. Dr. Mok Mareth, Senior Minister and Minister of Environment, on Monday.
“The national report will show us what key areas of policies and programmes are necessary for achieving resilient and sustainable development of Cambodia in the period after Rio+20,” he said.
He was speaking in his opening remarks to the Rio+20 national preparatory meeting which was attended by representatives of ministries, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and other development partners. The aim of the meeting was to brainstorm, exchange ideas and raise recommendations that will form the basis for the national report.
The Ministry of Environment organized the meeting with support from United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and UNDP in Cambodia.
In her remarks, Ms. Elena Tischenko, Country Director of UNDP in Cambodia, described the national Rio+20 process as “very instrumental” to help position Cambodia’s vision and priorities within the emerging global agenda – one that will simultaneously address economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
She said that, while economic growth model based on increasing GDP has helped lift millions globally out of poverty, gap between the rich and poor has also increased in more than two-thirds of the countries worldwide, including among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Cambodia is not an exception either.
Therefore, she said, the national Rio+20 process can determine “whether development progress risks to get undermined in the coming years by unsustainable policies and practices, or whether progress in sustainable development can, in fact, be accelerated through the application of more inclusive, equitable, and environmentally responsible development approaches.”
“How to identify the environmental and social costs of current economic growth models? How to align policies to sustainable development based on a ‘green economy' – one that simultaneously promotes sustainability and economic growth? National Rio+20 process provides the framework to examine these questions,” Ms. Tischenko said.
“For such a national Rio+20 process to be effective, it is important that different sectors and stakeholders be engaged and contribute with their views and objectives encompassing economic, social and environmental agendas,” she added.
The Rio+20 national preparatory meeting was only the start and will be followed by a two-day national dialogue slated for later March. Senior officials from the government, UN agencies and other stakeholders are expected to take part in it. Inputs from this round of discussions will feed into the development of the national report which the Senior Minister, H.E. Dr. Mok Mareth, in his capacity as the head of Cambodia’s delegation, will present to the Rio+20 conference in June.
In opening the meeting on Monday, he said that the national report will reflect the National Social Protection Strategy for the Poor and Vulnerable that the government has introduced for the implementation of the social safety net system in the country.
“This indicates the government’s high political commitment to move from short-term stand-alone safety net towards a more sustainable and coherent development framework fundamental to poverty eradication and to the enhancement of inclusive growth for all of the Cambodian people,” he said.