Minister of Environment Eang Sophalleth recently met with Czech ambassador Martin Vavra and Fauna and Flora International (Cambodia) executive director Kristian Teleki to discuss environmental concerns.

The meeting placed particular focus on the reduction of plastic waste, and the advancement of water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as issues faced by Community Protected Areas (CPAs)

The meetings, held separately at the ministry in Phnom Penh on October 16, aimed to foster sustainable development in the environmental sector and enhance the livelihoods of CPAs, according to a ministry social media post.

During the meeting, Vavra reaffirmed his government’s commitment to collaborating with Cambodia on plastic waste reduction and advancing water, sanitation and hygiene.

The ambassador highlighted the threat posed by plastic waste to the wellbeing of both humans and animals, as well as its adverse impact on the preservation of natural resources and water sources, and stressed the global urgency of reducing plastic bag usage.

Sophalleth supported this initiative, saying that in line with the Cambodian government’s Pentagonal Strategy-Phase I, his ministry has established three core objectives, each aimed at empowering and improving the welfare of the people.

Furthermore, the minister underscored the crucial role of law enforcement in the responsible management of natural resources and the prevention of deforestation, while firmly rejecting unlawful practices.

The statement continued that out of the three key priorities, the first one begins with launching a widespread campaign to reduce plastic bag usage, actively involving some 1.5 million students.

The second priority focuses on a reforestation initiative, distributing one million saplings to the public annually and bolstering efforts to combat forest-related crimes following established legal principles.

The third priority aims to establish strategic alliances with international partners to promote a clean, green, and sustainable approach in response to the urgent challenges posed by regional and global climate change.

“Even though we have tools for waste disposal, our primary goal should be waste reduction to the absolute minimum,” Sophalleth was quoted as saying.

He met with Teleki, saying that he welcomed the participation of development partners in improving the livelihoods of CPAs.

Teleki expressed appreciation for the ongoing partnership with the ministry and highlighted their shared commitment to reducing marine plastic, enhancing the blue carbon generated from sea grasses and mangroves, managing protected areas and conducting species surveys.

The collaborative projects aim to enhance the welfare of local communities, implement the REDD+ project and conduct transboundary biodiversity conservation within the extensive expanse of Virachey National Park.

In a corresponding social media post, FFI Cambodia said it is exploring plastic waste reduction solutions for Kong Rong and Koh Sdech islands to provide options for individuals and small-scale vendors, reducing plastic usage and preventing its entry into the sea.

“We supplied the community residents with ‘ecobags’ to substitute plastic ones and offered hot and cold water dispensers to vendors to encourage the habit of using refilling dispensers,” the post said.