Officials have called for climate change-related issues to be taken into account in all future development planning, noting that Cambodia remains vulnerable to an increase in natural disasters caused by climate change.

The calls came during a recent workshop organised by the Ministry of Environment to educate journalists and other media professionals on the dangers associated with climate change. It was hoped that their new-found knowledge would enable them to share the impacts of climate change more widely with the public.

Soth Kimkolmony, deputy director-general of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said that climate change has affected many of the Kingdom’s coastal and marine areas, as well as forests, ecosystems and water resources.

He added that it has also caused catastrophic damage to infrastructure, human health and agriculture, severely affecting the country’s development.

“What everyone needs to pay attention to is disaster management, disaster risk reduction and the need to mainstream disasters into our development planning. Without this consideration, development will not be sustainable,” he warned.

Kimkolmony explained that disasters hinder the development process, as responding to them consumes resources that could be better employed. He said the Kingdom is not yet resilient to disasters, so resources that are earmarked for development are sometimes used to deal with disasters and their aftermath.

“When a disaster strikes, development plans are interrupted – and sometimes even postponed or cancelled altogether. This is why development planning must take disaster mitigation into account,” he added.

According to a recent study cited by the ministry, climate change could cut gross domestic product (GDP) by 2.5 per cent by 2030, and up to 9.8 per cent by 2050. Even if global warming is kept below 2 degrees Celsius, Cambodia remains vulnerable to floods, droughts and typhoons.

According to a 2020 study by the ministry, almost all of the Cambodian people believe that climate change is affecting the country, but only 56 per cent think they are ready to respond to the changes.

Sem Savuth, knowledge officer at the ministry’s Cambodian Climate Change Alliance (CCCA), agreed that only the immediate adaptation and mainstreaming of adaptation processes would allow a timely response to the issue.

“We must all continue to raise awareness and share information about climate change. This includes increased training and participation in responses to it, both domestically and internationally,” he said.