NGOs, Gov’t Discuss Green Projects

Cambodia has yet to experience the high levels of urban air pollution found in neighboring Thailand. But potential air pollution in Phnom Penh needs to be kept in check, hopefully with the help of UN money, the director general of the Ministry of Envi­ron­ment said.

“We must create strategies to get funding,” so that Cambodia can handle the situation while there’s still time, said Khieu Muth, who was describing one of the country’s many long-term environmental needs.

Khieu Muth was speaking at the final day of a workshop on the UN’s Global Environment Facility program (GEF), which funds projects in developing nations.

More than 120 people from various government agencies, NGOs and the private sector gathered during the previous three days to discuss how Cam­bodia’s environmental goals fit within GEF project requirements.

Speakers Friday vowed to de­sign environmental projects that could be paid for with funding from the GEF, whose reser­ves topped $3.1 billion as of July 2000.

“[It is] imperative that we all work together in ensuring that good ideas are translated into effective proposals,” said Domi­nique Ait Ouyahia Mc­Adams, the UN Development Program’s resident coordinator.

The GEF is already funding some activities in Cambodia, including a Tonle Sap Lake management project developed through the UNDP.

Cambodian officials hope the GEF-driven projects will help bring the country’s fledgling environmental field up to speed.

The GEF was launched 10 years ago to address environmental issues on a global scope. Cambodia is one of 167 countries that participate in its activities today.

Unlike some funding sources, the GEF requires governments to partner with NGOs and the private sector on each project. “[The] GEF is very innovative in its design,” said Robin Broadfield, GEF operations coordinator for the East Asia and Pacific region at the World Bank.

Some meeting participants said Cambodia should apply for more projects through the GEF to meet a broadening range of environmental needs.




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