The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting the Ministry of Environment’s priority initiatives, with the latter urging the UN agency to widen its efforts to incorporate Tonle Sap Lake fishery resource preservation.

During his meeting with minister Eang Sophalleth, Kristin Parco, head of the IOM mission in Cambodia, conveyed a UN pledge to back the initiatives, the ministry said in a social media post after the September 29 discussion.

She sought Sophalleth’s endorsement for a comprehensive research project on environmental and climate change in the Tonle Sap area.

“The successful execution of the project depends on close collaboration and technical assistance from experts within the ministry,” the post quoted Parco as saying.

Sophalleth expressed gratitude for organisation’s ongoing support, and offered several recommendations to expedite the research process, with the goal of ensuring swift, efficient responses to existing environmental challenges.

“Additionally, the minister urged the IOM to broaden its focus to include the conservation of fishery resources in the Tonle Sap Lake, a vital aspect of Cambodia’s ecological balance that has historically been overlooked,” the post added.

It said Sophalleth emphasised the significance of the ministry’s plastic waste management strategy and proposed an initial step of halting the use of plastic bags for at least one day each week, allowing for a gradual shift in people’s plastic bag usage habits and eventually eliminating their use entirely.

“This dual-purpose strategy aims to eliminate plastic waste in rural and urban environments across Cambodia and enhance their attractiveness to tourists. This environmentally conscious initiative will benefit the Kingdom’s diverse recreational sites, including burgeoning ecotourism destinations,” said the post.

“Parco expressed her alignment with Sophalleth’s vision and praised his leadership, extensive experience, creative thinking and proactive approach to these priority initiatives,” it added.

She believes that the ministry’s strategies will yield positive outcomes in the near future.

The ministry’s key priorities include waste management, comprehensive rehabilitation and reforestation efforts to increase forest cover by 60 per cent and the improvement of community livelihoods for sustainable development.

“The IOM’s commitment further strengthens these initiatives, symbolising a collective determination to safeguard Cambodia’s environment for present and future generations,” said the post.

According to the UN agency, Parco pledged close collaboration with the ministry, while discussing plans moving forward with Sophalleth and his officials on climate change and migration.