IUCN officially launched the EU funded project to build Cambodia's resilience to climate change at a meeting in Koh Kong on August 11, 2011. This 4-year project will build the capacity of people and the ecosystems on which they depend to cope with impacts of climate change in eight provinces along the coastline between Bangkok and HCMC. In Cambodia, the project will work in Koh Kong and Kampot Provinces.
This half-day meeting was attended by 51 participants from central and provincial governments, local comunities, and NGOs. The meeting started off with welcome remarks from the Deputy Governors of Koh Kong and Kampot Provinces, followed by a presentation on climate change impacts by IUCN’s Jake Brunner.
The Deputy Governor of Kampot Province, H.E. Saut Yea, emphasized that climate change impacts are already evident. "We already saw the evidence of climate change impacts in July when the province was affected by drought and higher temperature. There was no rain. Agriculture depends on rain so we could not start producing crops and rice", he said. "We need to understand climate change and how we deal with it. In order to change, we have to adapt".
Brunner highlighted that sea level in the Gulf of Thailand is rising 3-5.5 mm/per year, which is three times faster than the global average of 1.8 mm/year. More intense rainfall, higher peak temperatures, and stronger storms could have huge impacts on people's lives. Although climate change is a gradual process, shorter and unpredictable events will occur.
Brunner shared the example of Cu Lao Cham MPA in Vietnam where no hotels have been built; all visitors over-night with households. Participants expressed interest in this approach but were also concerned that local communities may not have the capacity or experience to manage home-stays in Cambodia. Training and financial support would be needed.
After the presentation, there was a 2-hour discussion among all participants about the main threats to coastal communities and how the project should address these. Participants shared their concerns about climate change and spoke about powerful storms that destroyed roofs, higher waves that flooded houses, and prevented fishermen from venturing out to sea.
Government officials repeatedly stressed the need to work though the government hierarchy before starting working with communities. In terms of project sites, officials from Koh Kong recommended that the project focuses on Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary where the zoning is completed and the project has a good foundation to build on. Other project sites will be identified as part of a situation analysis that will be carried out.
For more information, contact:
Mr. Kong Kimsreng
Senior Programme Officer