Sub-National Consultation Workshop on Cambodia’ Citizens Climate Budget

Climate change (CC) is the biggest threat facing Cambodia’s people and economy. Much of the government’s response to the causes and impacts of climate change is depended on how it raises and spends public funds through the budget. To ensure effectively implementation, civil society organizations, citizens, and others should have opportunities to participate in decision making, monitor spending on the ground, and hold the government accountable for managing public funds. To do this, people and their organizations need access to complete, timely, detailed, and understandable information on the government’s budget plans. The NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGO Forum) is producing and publishing this Citizens Climate Budget (CCB) report. It will inform the public about how the government is addressing climate change through its budgets. It will also provide the government with a model of how it can take up its responsibility to make this type of information available each year as the budget is being planned and implemented. Comprehensive information and accessible manner on the Citizen Climate Budget report needs involvement from various stakeholders in order to develop a report that will present the government’s budget plans for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The NGO Forum on Cambodia organized two-separate sub-national consultation workshops on 04-05 July 2019. These were held in Siem Reap and Kampong Cham Province in order to seek inputs and foresight from relevant stakeholders to produce a policy brief and final report for wide dissemination. The sub-national consultation workshop on Cambodia’ Citizen Climate Budget was organized with the objective to 1) gather inputs from relevant key stakeholders on the draft Cambodia’ citizens climate budget report through assessing and identifying the Climate Change Financing Expenditure and Projection, and 2) incorporated inputs as a mean into the final draft of the report.

The first session of the workshop was held in Siem Reap. Mr. Som Sovann, acting as chair of the NGOs Environmental and Climate Change Alliance (NECA), said that climate change is a crucial issue since it effects many sectors. He mentioned the works where NECA facilitates members to compromise inputs/comments into the development processes of Environmental code and natural resource and National Strategic Development Plan. Mr. Ouk Vannara, Deputy Executive Director of NGO Forum said in Kampong Cham that the NECA will work closely with the line ministry to incorporate inputs from Civil Society Organizations into the policy development at a national level. Importantly, this workshop will open and welcome all inputs and comments from government officials, NGOs and the Community to ensure the report is accurate, accessible and understandable.

Mr. Kheon Sokunvisith, Deputy of Department of Environment, Siem Reap impressed in opening remarks that climate change is real, and effects Cambodian people’s livelihoods and health. Climate change in Cambodia is made up of droughts, floods and storms. The National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD) predicted that if Cambodia capped the cost of addressing climate change over the next 15 years, it would reduce the GDP by 2.5% or 0.16% per annum. He added that climate change was put into the fourth pillar of the Royal Government’s Rectangular Strategy. Therefore, we must work together for the common interest of the people, and he hopes that today’s discussion will bring more inputs into the study of budget information for the people to respond to climate change. In other words, Mr. Dieb Mao, a representative from the Department of Environment said in Kampong Cham that this workshop is quite important. He suggested to have full participation and provide comments on the draft report.

Mr. Chan Sophal, an independent consultant, presented a draft of the Cambodia’ Citizen Climate Budget, which focuses on climate change expenditures versus productive GDP. He highlighted issues related to natural disasters such as floods, drought, storm, irregular rain, rising temperatures and so on. Climate change will affect the GPD by about 10% in 2050. Women particularly have little voice in decision-making and limited capacity in agriculture diversification. Another thing is raising the Government’s Policy on Climate Change. According to the study, the national budget has experienced economic growth through tax collection (costs increase from $ 3,000 to $ 6,000 million from 2014 to 2019), and it has some reserved funds. The total revenue and expenditure are not yet available (with foreign loans). To cope with climate change (for poor countries, such as ponding, road construction…), the National budget allocated only 1% of the gross domestic production (GDP), 3.2% of public expenditure and useful costs and 2% of public expenditure. Costs for climate change include over 14 Ministries (853 billion Riels by 2017) mostly funded from foreign aid rather than local resources.

The report suggested that the Royal Government should increase the budget allocation coping with climate change directly because climate change is a significant challenge in Cambodia. During his presentation in Siem Reap and Kampong Cham, Mr. Chan Sophal said that relevant ministries should submit detailed information on climate change mitigation to the public through the Ministry’s website. Relevant ministries should reveal climate change adaptation plans and how gender issues have been included in expenditure planning and reporting.

Relevant stakeholders including a government official, NGOs, and the community reflected on the report’s findings and organization, then provided their own suggestions. Consequently, it is shown that:

  • Overall the report is acceptable and detailed, but it would be great to have validated data by 2018 with more detailed narratives in the report.
  • Explanation of the national budget is simple and scientific, but it should have references.
  • Budget allocation to sub-national should be increased from 7% to 10%.
  • Challenges include lack of participation from CSOs and decision-making, lack of NGOs working on DRR and involves with Provincial Committee​​ on Disaster Risk Management (NCDM) and lack of extension service to the local people.
  • Suggestion that the Royal Government allocate a budget for Climate Change to sub-national level, to strengthen the capacity of DoE officer on Climate Change (ToT), engage CSOs in consultation, monitor process and decision-making and disseminate information relation to Climate Change to the public.