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Cambodia Lagging in Response to Climate Change: Expert

Lay Khim, an environment specialist for UNDP on 'Hello VOA' Monday.
Lay Khim, an environment specialist for UNDP on 'Hello VOA' Monday.

Cambodia remains vulnerable to climate change, and its limited adaptability could mean more woes for the poor, an environmental expert said Monday.

The country’s perpetually weak infrastructure means there is little it can do to mitigate the flooding and other natural disasters associated with a changing climate, said Lay Khim, an environment specialist for UNDP, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

“In addition, there is insufficient information about the weather that could be used by farmers for cultivation,” he said.

The UNDP and Ministry of Environment issued a report last week that identified four key areas that will require coordinated efforts if the country is to build up its resilience to climate fluctuations, including the management of water resources and agriculture and protection of the nation’s forests and fisheries.

Its water resources are currently poorly managed, and there are few planning mechanisms to assess its options for irrigation and hydropower, for example.

“The risks associated with [water] development in Cambodia and across the Mekong basin, particularly for inland capture fisheries and food security, are extremely high,” the report said.

The report urged more action at the grassroots, rather than national, level, to lessen the impact of climate change.

Pol Ham, a spokesman for the opposition Human Rights Party, said Monday the loss of forest cover to land concessions has sped up the impacts of climate change.

“No one other than the government is responsible for the issue of climate change,” he said.

Lay Khim said each country must take some responsibility in mitigating climate change, by preserving natural resources like their forests. However, he said, each country must weigh its options.

“In developing countries it’s a choice, because they need resources and land for economic development,” he said. However, he added, “each country must make decisive and long-term decisions to ensure that these decisions on resource use or in other fields helps them prepare for climate change.”