17 Oct 2019 Story Chemicals & waste

Cambodia on track to tackle chemicals and waste

A lush tropical nation of some 15.3 million inhabitants, Cambodia is one of the most biodiverse countries in Southeast Asia. To date, over 8,000 species of plants, more than 800 species of fish and 500 bird species have been recorded across Cambodia, from the forest highlands to the mangrove wetlands near the country’s coast.

However, recent economic development is posing an increasing threat to Cambodia’s environmental future. This is particularly troubling in the capital Phnom Penh, where population growth due to rapid industrialization has led to an uncontrolled increase in waste production: in the last 10 years, waste in one of Phnom Penh’s main landfills has more than doubled.

To help resolve this pressing issue, Cambodia has regularly engaged with the international community, and has ratified the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm conventions. In this same spirit, Cambodia has recently partnered with the Chemicals and Waste Management Programme on an important three-year project to strengthen key institutions in order to promote a more efficient and coordinated implementation of these international agreements.

The project will seek to bridge gaps in and contribute to the implementation of Cambodia’s national environmental strategic action plan 2016-2023. This will involve firstly the strengthening of inter-sectoral coordination to improve monitoring and facilitate the implementation, reporting and compliance of the conventions. It will also enhance the existing Inter-Ministerial Technical Working Group in Charge of Facilitation and Implementation of the Basel, Vienna, Stockholm and Minamata Conventions.

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Building on previous national assessments of chemicals and waste management, Cambodia will undertake a systematic analysis of its national obligations under each convention. Past challenges with reporting and potential compliance or technical issues will also be identified. Based on this analysis, a joint approach for implementation of the conventions will also be outlined to make the best use of Cambodia’s limited resources.

Cambodia will also create a robust and transparent mechanism for information management and data exchange on relevant chemical management initiatives and activities among different government ministries and national stakeholders. The platform will facilitate access to relevant information, experiences and expertise, allowing wider and faster communication of important information, and enabling quick and effective decision-making. The platform will be an investment in the effectiveness and sustainability of Cambodia’s future environmental policy.

Under the project, Cambodia will also organize a series of training workshops on national implementation of the conventions. This training will include practical working sessions to address specific issues related to chemicals and waste management, and thus ensure a more efficient and effective implementation of the conventions. Training will also introduce more recent policy issues, especially on chemicals in products, hazardous substances within the life cycle of electronic products, and highly hazardous pesticides, which have recently become a cause of greater concern in Cambodia.

Finally, Cambodia will undertake a nationwide awareness-raising and education campaign on chemical safety through development and dissemination of informational material across various media (newspapers, radio and television), as well as field visits to agricultural regions, industrial facilities and others. The approach will be tailored to each audience, targeting government officials, farmers, industry workers, students, researchers and more.

Through these efforts, Cambodia will strengthen knowledge, understanding and skill sets for sound chemical and waste management from the ground up. This will allow Cambodia to not only respond to the most pressing concerns facing the country now, but to also build a firm institutional foundation, ensuring an effective policy response for years to come.

 

For further information please contact the Special Programme Secretariat at [email protected]