World Bank Funds Climate Change Adaptation Program

The World Bank will provide around $50 million for a program aimed at helping Cambodia adapt to climate change, a Bank official said Wednesday.

Funding from the World Bank’s Pilot Program for Climate Re­silience will provide support for projects that help prepare Cambodia for climate change, World Bank Country Sector Coordinator Jiten­dra Shah wrote in an e-mail.

However, the program is still being prepared and is not expected to be ready until the coming months, Shah wrote, adding that half of the funding will be available through loans and half through grant aid.

The Bank selected Cambodia as one of the pilot countries for the program based on Cam­bodia’s existing plans for adapting to climate change and because it identified the country as one of the most vulnerable in the region, according to Shah.

Tin Ponlok, the Ministry of En­vironment’s national coordinator for climate change policy, welcomed the World Bank program, but added that he could not comment on it, as he had not seen any program documents.

However, Tin Ponlok did say that all program funding should be given as a grant because Cambodia would be reacting to climate change that has been caused by developed nations.

“From a developing country’s perspective this should be a matter of principle,” he said.

Minh Cuong Lequan, head of the Cambodia climate change unit for French environmental NGO GERES, said the money for the program should also be extended for use in projects that are not specified in Cambodia’s existing national climate change plan.

The current plan does not mention adaptive measures for the energy sector, which is vulnerable to climate change due its dependence on a centralized high voltage grid and foreign power supplies, he said. If, for example a power station in Vietnam’s coastal areas were to be hit by a typhoon, it could shut down the entire power grid of Cambodia, Lequan explained, adding that decentralized power supply would be a solution to this problem.

The government’s action plan also does not mention urban areas and fails to include measures to adapt agriculture in a manner that would help the sector develop in a sustainable way, he added.

Sam Chamroeun, director of the Environment Ministry’s planning department, said he had been assigned to work on the upcoming World Bank program, but added that thus far he had not met with Bank officials and therefore could not comment on it.

(Additional reporting by Rann Reuy)

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