LAUNCHING Workshop on Cambodia’s Citizens Climate Budget Report 2018-2019

On 03 June 2021, the NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF) organized Virtual Launching Report on Cambodia’s Citizens Climate Budget which hosted via Zoom meeting. This launching workshop is collaboratively co-chaired by NGOF and UNDP with funding from the Government of Sweden. This workshop aims to share with key relevant stakeholders on state’s 2018-2019 public budget expenditure on climate change and to show participants’ action plan and to provide opportunity for engagement and participation to share and discuss on climate change issues in Cambodia, especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keynote Address by Dr. Seak Sophat – Deputy Dean of Faculty of Development, Royal University of Phnom Penh
In contributing to the fight against climate change, RUPP has integrated environmental and climate change-related lectures into our teaching and learning programs. For instance, there is a Master Program for Climate Change which becomes the first degree training in Cambodia. This program is to build more human resources in responding to the needs of climate change work. Climate change is a new course and knowledge though it has been integrated for many years. Still, we have limited specialized persons in this area for both government institutions, NGOs and private sector. There is increasing of such specialists on climate change because action plan of the implementing agencies has acquired the manpower to exercise the projects. RUPP has Faculty of Development Studies, and other faculties that have in place integrated the climate change course. Within our faculty, we have 34 departments and within each department we extract the key messages and knowledge on climate change and disaster and share them with students. Actually, students registering with the Master of Climate Change are staff of government, private companies and NGOs. They see the program provides them the knowledge and practices for them in their work.

Keynote Address by Mr. Julien Chevillard, Senior Technical Advisor, UNDP
There is an existing dialogue between civil society and government on budget issues and that NGOF is very involved in this. There have been some dialogues with Ministry of Economy and Finance and a number of line ministries. Sometimes there is a response from the National Assembly. This report on citizen climate budget is an additional tool that can be used within this framework to engage government and civil society on climate change priority and where additional spending is needed and where the resource is needed in allocating climate change finance and also to identify what and where the good practices are. I hope these things will be taken into future dialogues with government, private sector and the parliament. We have HE. Khut Chandara here who has involved in discussions on climate change.

This is a very good news that both government and donors are seeing climate change issues as important priority. The impacts of climate change will not be a small issue in the next 20 years. I have seen the critical inclusion of gender issues though it remains small. But the trend is positive. We know women in particular are more affected from climate change. It is good to see that even the progress is slow but it is going in the right direction. We still also see that the majority of the funding goes normally to infrastructure ministry, ministry of water resources, ministry of rural development. They have a very big role in spending the climate change finance in Cambodia. This is normal trend, but I think in the future we might look into more soft investments. We have seen the COVID pandemic and how the government spends fund for social protection scheme that this is important to help reduce the effect and vulnerabilities on the poor and vulnerable in the society. It is a potential area to look into for the government in the future as we expect external shocks from climate change. This is interesting to understand how such soft interventions could be designed to respond to climate shocks.

Opening Remark by Dr. Tek Vannara, Executive Director of The NGO Forum on Cambodia

The today workshop is virtual as it is a new context in Cambodia and the world during this pandemic situation. We cannot take it for granted for every minute as of the experience of the 20-February COVID-19 Outbreak, as the virus was transmitted within community that causes us huge impacts for our society and economy. This experience requires us to collectively fight against this virus.

This is the second report to update the expenditure for climate change for 2018 and 2019. What is remarkable in this report is that the public expenditure for climate change from 2018 to 2019 increases from 6.2% to 7%. Civil society appreciates and supports this additional attention so that we can achieve our Cambodian Sustainable Development Goals 2016-2030. In the recent stage, the Royal Government of Cambodia, with its Ministry of Planning as secretariat, continues to review the efforts and indicators of the sectoral-based NSDP in order to align with the current context of economic development in the time of pandemic impacts. At the same time, we strive to work with the Ministry of Economy and Finance and other development partners to enable public engagement in the preparation of draft of Budget Law, or what we call it as Annual Finance Management Law. We just to assure that the public can involve in the draft planning. This is also to enable sub-national people to be easily understand the law and provide their comments. This is to achieve the local participation and decision-making of the sub-national communities.

Within this opportunity, I would like to update you all of the progress of the civil society work on climate change. We have provided comments and inputs for climate change policy implementation and mainstreaming for instance joining the implementation of UN Climate Change Framework and the mid-term review of the NSDP 2019-2023 on the climate change, agriculture, water and development indicators. We also review the VNR report which is a voluntary and important report that shows the commitment of Cambodia on Cambodian Sustainable Development Goals 2016-2030. We have civil society representatives to discuss with the Technical Working Group on Climate Change. We have now been preparing the civil society positions for UN Climate Change Conference and for the IUCN Congress in September in France. We continue to enhance and expand our collaborations with regional and global organizations to contribute into the achievement of the Cambodian Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, we continue to document and conduct researches and studies on policy implementation monitoring and on raising our awareness and knowledge on climate change and impacts.

Presentation on the Cambodia’s Citizens Climate Budget Report 2018-19, by Mr. Chan Sophal, Independent Consultant

Cambodia faces major risks from climate change – Climate hazards like these can destroy people’s livelihoods, homes, and other property, reduce the ability of farmers to produce food, increase the spread of diseases and other health risks, lead to higher costs for family businesses, and the government. It is seriously threatening Cambodia’s people livelihoods and economy. Nearly one million household (HHS) suffered from extreme weather of flood and storms between 2011 and 2018 (902,941 HHs from flood, 7,676,206 Ha from drought, and 49,000 HHs from storms)

How big of impacts could climate change have on Cambodia’s economy? – Unless greater efforts are taken to address climate change, the Cambodia’s plans to become an “upper middle income” country and to lift people out of poverty would remain at great risk. Current efforts to adapt to climate change may not be enough to stop losses in gross domestic product (GDP).

How the government of Cambodia responds to climate change? – The government has a big role to play in both reducing the causes of climate change and protecting people and the economy from its negative impacts. In Cambodia, adapting to changes in climate is the priority and includes actions like providing farmers with drought-resistant seeds, helping people to rebuild homes and livelihoods after weather disasters, and strengthening weather forecasting and early warning systems.

Ms. Ngin Navirak, National Coordinator, UNDP GEF SGP

This is the global program of GEF with participation of 132 countries. Globally, the program has started since 1992. In Cambodia, it has operated since 2005. This program provides small grant to NGOs and communities working in related to environmental protection. The program aims to work on global and local environmental protection, build capacity and empower the civil society and local communities, and contribute to poverty reduction through the implementation of the environmental programs.

So far, the program has funded 219 projects and additional 12 projects in Cambodia. USD 25 million from the 15-16 years has been spent and this is only from GEF, not included other funds of UNDP. GEF SGP OP7 has started from July 2020 to end of June 2024 and spent around USD 783,000. These funds are USD 500,000 from GEF SGP CORE, USD 150,000 from GEF OP6 for Energy for Indigenous People, USD 3,3000 from Japanese Government for COMDEKs, and USD 250,000 from German Government for ICCAS Program.

The Cambodia Climate Change Community-Based Adaption Program has an aim to improve adaptation and resilience capacity of vulnerable communities in flood and drought prone areas in Cambodia. Output 1 is to improve the capacity of 450 communities through small grants. Output 2 is to integrate information and actions on climate change and adaptation into commune investment and development plans. Output 3 is to document the lesson-learnt and best practices and disseminate those documents for policy preparation and development program implementations.

The total budget is around USD 4.3 million from SIDA, AusAid, and UNDP. 73% is given as grants to local NGOs and CBOs, 10% is spent for trainings, workshops, lessons learned and knowledge sharing, and the 17% is used for program management, monitoring and evaluation.

Ms. Ung Chanphal, Director of Women’s Media Center of Cambodia (WMC)

WMC is to empower the roles of women and we understand that climate change is relevant with women rights. WMC has worked on climate change program so far. We have one program called green music that is an entertainment and comedy show. This is broadcasted for every Tuesday from 3-4pm. This program focuses on environmental protection, climate change, and adaption. We have music in between the program. Our music is related with environment and youth. This program has been suspended for the last three months due to COVID-19 and no sponsor. We are very sorry to drop this program temporarily. Moreover, we have worked with NGOs, UN Agencies, Government in producing the videos that can be case studies, documentaries, features that can be used to promote awareness for rural people and uploaded in social media, TV and YouTube. We have worked with NGOs such as NGOF, RECOFT, MoE, MAFF, and Forestry Administration. In addition to video, we organize talk-show or roundtable discussion, principle-in-show with many NGOs for their programs. We work on environmental issues and adaption to environmental changes i.e., growing technics based on seasonal changes, finding firewood, plastic management, waste collection. For community program, we train youth to report on environmental issues in their communities and contribute to forestry management. Such awareness is producing huge impacts on youth and the public.

Closing Remark by the Representative of the 3rd Committee of National Assembly
His Excellency Khut Chandara, Representative of the 3rd Committee of NA

I have learned some practical experience and knowledge from all presentations and sharing. This workshop is important to gain more learning. I appreciate this workshop and their donors for funding and sharing. Also thank to all presenters, consultants, community representatives, and all participants.

We have witnessed that Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has paid attention for budgeting the climate change work in Cambodia as seen through the presentation of Mr. Chan Sophal and Mr. Julian. RGC has increased the budget from year to year to respond to climate change. I am happy to see that UNDP GEF has supported the local and grassroot projects in responding to climate change. There remain the USD 300,000 for the upcoming projects that will help build the adaption work in Cambodia.
I suggest all partners and donors to raise more funds to work on climate change adaption in Cambodia as this is the focus on poor people in rural Cambodia. The negative impacts of climate change affect those rural poor people and of course they are the front-liners of the impacts. We hope that mor projects and funds will be raised and implemented in the localities. Gender is also important in climate change. As within the National Assembly, we have addressed the work too. RGC will prepare the economy recovery plan after COVID-19. If we have better economic then this will help us respond better to climate change.

I thank NGOF, UNDP, Sweden Government for the great work and wish everyone good health and free from COVID-19.