My assumptions were wrong when I doubted, two blogs ago on 24 October 2015, that world wide climate change does not get much attention in Cambodia. On 23 November 2015 the Phnom Penh Post reported that Prime Minister Hun Sen had urged “cooperation on climate problems.” And on 2 December we could read that the King of Cambodia was among the many heads of state attending the U N Climate Conference – COP21 – in Paris. It was reported that he “delivered an impassioned plea for a legally binding international climate change treaty” in his six-and-a-half minutes address to the representatives of “195 nations and the world’s civil society.”
- “Climate change is the defining challenge of our time and we have started to experience its effects over the past few years,”
- Citing concerns over food security, poverty reduction and health issues, the King warned that if not addressed, climate change will compromise human development and the UN Sustainable Development Goals adopted earlier this year.
- A recent UN study places the Kingdom among the top 10 countries most affected by weather-related disasters.
- “As the representative of a developing country,” Sihamoni called upon fairness in the negotiations, stressing the growing costs for the Kingdom “despite Cambodia’s very small share in greenhouse gas emissions,” echoing the position staked out by the Kingdom’s civil society.
- The King went on to emphasize Cambodia’s need for a technology transfer agreement as well as adaptation and mitigation financing in order to meet its emissions targets.
- “These initial contributions will not maintain global warming below the threshold of 2° C, breaking this deadlock is our responsibility as leaders,” he said, concluding with a challenge to negotiators to reach an agreement. “Let us deliver today the bold leadership that our people and future generations legitimately expect.”
- Reacting to the address, the Prey Lang Community Network – which has sent two delegates to Paris, where it is set to receive the UNDP’s Equator Prize – applauded the King’s sentiment and inclusion of forest protection on the agenda, writing that addressing climate change “is the responsibility of each and every one of us.”
It is quite an achievement to receive the Equator Prize, an international award that recognizes outstanding local achievement in advancing sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.
The Prey Lang Community Network was chosen as one of the 21 winners, from among 1,461 nominations from 126 countries around the world. It is, in a way. also a recognition for Chut Wutty, who had helped to set up the Prey Lang Community Network, before he was killed in 2012 by a military police official while investigating forest crimes in Koh Kong province.
Now we look forward to the outcome of the UN Climate change conference in Paris – by tomorrow the results should be public. And then begins the new start to see what it means in Cambodia what the Prey Lang Community Network said: Climate change “is the responsibility of each and every one of us” – as they said in their welcoming the Cambodian King’s statements in Paris.