Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Environment code due this year

Environment code due this year

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Environment Minister Say Samal speaks at a meeting on the environmental code of conduct held at the ministry’s headquarters in Phnom Penh yesterday. Hong Menea

Environment code due this year

Cambodia plans to have an ambitious environmental code adopted by the end of this year, according to a legal adviser with the law firm helping to write the legislation, though conservationists yesterday remained wary about how it would be implemented.

Brian Rohan, legal adviser at the Vishnu Law Group, which has assisted in drafting several revisions of the code since March 2015, said he hoped that the code can go before the National Assembly by November or December of this year.

“It’s a strong priority of the government,” he said on the sidelines of the fourth national consultation workshop on the legislation. “The government is genuinely committed to this.”

The environment code aims to enable sustainable development through protection and restoration of the environment, according to a copy of the legislation.

The code would also give greater management control of natural resources at the local level.

What distinguishes the code, Rohan said, is that the legislation allows for a more active role for ordinary citizens to be involved in environmental protection by having better access to information and ability to participate in decision making on the ground. The code also calls for the establishment of a “grievance mechanism through which citizens can legally raise complaints and concerns”.

For example, if an environmental dispute arises and citizens are unable resolve the issue at the local level, they would be able to take the complaint to an independent entity at the Ministry of Environment, which would make a binding decision on the matter, Rohan explained. However, it hasn’t yet been determined who would pay the salaries of the independent body.

The more than 400-page code also includes provisions related to climate change, green economy and sustainable energy.

Preparing the code has cost roughly $1 million, according to Environment Ministry spokesman Sao Sopheap, and Cambodia has received support from international partners, such as USAID and UNDP.

Sopheap said the cost of preparing and implementing it, however, would be well worth the benefits.

“We all agree that we need to save the environment and natural resources,” he said.

At the workshop, Environment Minister Say Samal called the code a turning point for the Kingdom. “The law will change the thinking, behaviour of the people,” he said. “We want the code to be accepted by all.”

Seng Bunra, country director for Conservation International, praised the code for bringing in several state bodies – like the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Forestry Administration and Agriculture Ministry – to tackle environmental issues.

“What we worry about is the implementation,” he said. “So far, so many laws have passed, but implementation is still missing.”

Seng Sokheng with the Community Peace Building Network said the government already has laws in place to protect natural resources. However, he said what’s lacking is respect for the law by government officials and enforcement because those committing environmental crimes often have ties to high-ranking government officials.

“That’s the main point,” he said.

Conservationist Marcus Hardtke shared a similar sentiment. He said laws to protect the environment have been in place for years, but haven’t been implemented.

“Considering the rampant logging and lawlessness in Cambodia’s protected areas, the code is an academic exercise.”

MOST VIEWED

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National