The government has launched the second phase of the Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technology (Test) programme, in a bid to encourage investment in low-carbon development projects and mitigate some of the harmful effects of climate change caused by the industrial sector.

Developed by the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Test is an integrated approach that provides industries and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) the tools to improve business operations and manage a transition towards sustainable production.

Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation secretary of state Chhem Keatrithy on June 29 led a virtual meeting where an agreement to implement the second phase of the programme was signed.

Representatives of the Ministry of Environment, UNIDO, factories and manufacturing enterprises also signed the accord via video link.

Some industrial businesses have been discharging improperly treated waste into sewers and rivers, prompting the government to take action and weigh potential environmental impact solutions, the industry ministry said in a June 30 press release.

Industry ministry secretary of state and Test project director Toeng Sini noted that the programme was initially set to run from 2018-2021.

But Covid-19 forced a rescheduling, and the second phase extends the programme until the end of next year, he said.

The project set out to cover 50 major industrial businesses nationwide, but has only managed to sign on 35 as “partners”, he lamented.

However, he said, the project aims to demonstrate that through the Test integrated methodology, the industrial sector can cut down on harmful discharges, increase productivity and boost product quality – all while safeguarding the environment.

And to support the government’s efforts to promote green industry development and fulfil a strategic plan to usher a circular economy, UNIDO said that, working closely with the industry and environment ministries, it had organised a welcoming event for a second batch of 20 garment factories and food processing enterprises, to receive technical support in implementing a variety of measures that would raise efficiency, in terms of resource management and clean production processes.

“This technical assistance is possible with the financial support of the Global Environment Facility [GEF],” UNIDO said, adding that it would “help plants to increase productivity and reduce the impact of climate change.

“The project will continue to recruit more factories and enterprises,” it added.

The Test methodology comprises a set of tools, including an approach to select appropriate technologies for efficient use of resources and clean production, along with three management systems – Environmental Management Accounting, Environmental Management System, and Corporate Social Responsibility.

The Test integrated approach guides companies in terms of environmental management and competitiveness, and improves on the production process, implementation, management and vision in a manner that ensures sustainable green practices and optimal performance.

At the same time, through the project, the staff at industrial businesses will receive training in work efficiency and identifying ways to use resources effectively and keep production clean.

Seeking to further encourage businesses to adhere to environmentally-friendly practices, the industry ministry has created the “Cambodian Green Industry Awards” to give them the opportunity to compete for gold, silver and bronze.

The ministry will accept applications for the awards until the end of this month.