In a first for Cambodia, the Mekong Water Dialogues (MWD) is in the initial stages of developing a national plan to strategically manage wetlands.
Currently there is no policy in place to consolidate wetland management in Cambodia, different ministries are responsible for different elements of the wetland ecosystem and frequently these areas of responsibilities overlap. Some protected areas exist under the current arrangements, however not all wetlands are included within the declared protected areas.
The work of MWD in Cambodia aims to assist the streamlining of the ministerial arrangements and formalize wetland management. The final document will be proposed to Cabinet as either the National Wetland Strategic Plan or National Wetland Strategic Guidance, depending on the level of agreement amongst the ministries involved.
MWD in Cambodia is fortunate to be working actively with the Director of the Department of Wetlands and Coastal Zones, under the Ministry of Environment who is also a member of the National Working Group of MWD Cambodia.
Through the efforts of the National Working Group, MWD Cambodia has produced a concept note to outline the process required to bring about the formalization of wetland management. This process included a survey of national and international wetland experts to assess the latest knowledge and practices and evaluate the most appropriate management options for the country. The next step to bring wetlands management under a single national framework will involve revising the model, proposed in the original concept note, with the responses from this survey.
In addition, MWD has undertaken an extensive review of wetland strategic plans from eight countries around the world. The analysis the highlighted the components best suited the conditions in Cambodia to form the basis of the model for wetland management to be proposed to the national government. The model will be circulated to experts in the coming months to ensure the recommended management structure is the most suitable and robust for the Cambodian situation.
Once consolidated, the revised model for wetlands management will be used in the first round of consultation meetings in the next few months with the main three line ministries (Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fishery and the Ministry of Water Resources and Meterology who regulate wetland use and other relevant ministries and stakeholders, including international and local NGOs, to guide the development of wetlands management.
Ultimately, MWD Cambodia is striving to achieve support and endorsement from Cabinet for the establishment of a national framework for wetlands management to secure adequate protection of wetlands for long-term conservation and sustainable livelihood practices.