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UN Official Warns of Serious Climate Impacts

Global climate change will have a serious impact on Cambodia’s economy and society, the UN’s resident coordinator in Phnom Penh warned Tuesday.

Speaking on the second day of a climate change conference in Phnom Penh, Douglas Broderick said farmers in remote areas would be especially hard hit.

“Changes in rainfall patterns can have devastating effects on livelihoods, as 80 percent of farmers grow just one crop of rice per year,” Broderick said. “This has the potential to impact greatly on the economy, but also has implications for food security and poverty reduction as a whole.”

Cambodia’s economy is heavily dependent on its agriculture, and its coastal areas, which benefit from tourism, can also be affected by global warming.

For example, Broderick said, coastal degradation in Koh Kong province can push people beyond their limits to cope. Meanwhile, climate change might also put pressure on Cambodia as communities migrate from the Mekong River system or river ecosystems suffer.

Environment Minister Mok Maret, who is also chairman of the National Climate Change Committee, said on Tuesday that the government has already taken steps in response to climate change.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday called on rich nations to provide assistance to poor countries like Cambodia to effectively address climate change.

Broderick warned that failure to deal with climate change impacts could undermine the nation’s “millennium development goals,” causing problems in the economy and in social development.