Nurturing A Green Economy

Key stakeholders came together for EuroCham's fifth Green Business Forum, aimed at accelerating the nation meeting its targets for a green economy
EuroCham's fifth Green Business Forum. Kiripost via EuroCham
EuroCham's fifth Green Business Forum. Kiripost via EuroCham

EuroCham Cambodia hosted its fifth Green Business Forum, aiming to accelerate the Kingdom’s progress towards meeting the important targets set by its various green-economy initiatives.

On June 9, EuroCham Cambodia hosted its fifth Green Business Forum under the theme “Green Business Forum on Pioneering Innovation for a sustainable future” by bringing together the relevant sector to identify and exchange examples of green value chains, responsible business practices, and concrete green financing solutions in Cambodia.

Tassilo Brinzer, Chairman of EuroCham, said that the economy cannot be expected to grow as predicted last year. However, in the long-term, Cambodia has one of the best opportunities for business. Additionally, there is a chance for the nation to compete with larger economies such as Indonesia and the Philippines, as well as other nearby fast-growing countries including Vietnam and Thailand.

“It has embarked on a road littered with fundamental economic reforms, which lies in the speedy expansion of the sustainable and green part of our economy for more and better tourism, higher quality production, accelerated skill development, more state revenues, improved lifestyles, and overall healthier growth throughout the country and society,” he said.

He added that the investment law with specific provisions for green investments will be important steps in fighting global impacts on the economy, building a progressive reputation for the country, and promoting it as a regional hub for logistics, manufacturing, and quality lifestyles.

Tin Ponlok, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Environment, said that business practices in Cambodia will not change overnight and the business people here are really pragmatic. “They believe in what they see, not my interiors,” he noted.

“This is why it is so important to demonstrate that sustainable business is not just the right thing to do for one respected. In fact, it is just good business and it comes with many environmental and social benefits."

He emphasized the significance of continuing to promote and make these best practices visible. In addition, the Ministry needs feedback to improve the regulatory framework in order to facilitate the adoption of sustainable business practices.

“Cambodia wants to become an attractive investment destination. We don't need attractive cities,” he said. “This means that the city is less vulnerable to extreme climate events, has low-carbon transportation and efficient waste management.”

Martin Brisson, EuroCham Executive Director, said that there’s more urgency than ever to tackle the sustainability issue as 2030, a crucial year for the UN's Sustainable Development Goals approaches.

“Everyone needs to be involved to find common solutions,” he said. “This forum shows how we need each other to make things better: we need policy, knowledge, and financing to accelerate green investment, green business practices, and the green transition we’re all working towards.”

Presentation: Sustainability Certification

Yaoprukchai Terachai, Sustainability Certification Manager at SGS, presented the green value chain and certification. He said that Cambodia has the potential for sustainability certification due to the government commitment, growing market demands, and supportive infrastructure.

Currently, there are 31 sustainability certifications in Cambodia, including the textiles industry, electrical industry, and leather products. Besides that, the potential sectors that should have sustainability certifications include tourism and hospitality, manufacturing and assembly, and renewable energy and green energy sectors.

He explained that sustainability certification in Cambodia is necessary because it facilitates market penetration, resource efficiency, and pollution prevention in the garment and textile industries.

While in manufacturing and assembly, it facilitates supply chain management, environmental risk, and environmental performance in manufacturing and assembly, and in tourism and hospitality, it promotes sustainability for future tourists, cost management, and people's mindset.

With the demand for organic and sustainably produced goods rising, Dilum Wijenayak, general manager of Control Union (Cambodia), said certifications will only continue to grow in importance. The number of USDA National Organic Program certified operators in Cambodia jumped from 34 in 2019 to 54 in 2021, with cassava and cashew nut farmers now represented.

Presentation: Government’s initiatives

Kith Chankrisna, Advisor to the Minister of Environment and National Project Director of Combating Marine Plastic Litter Project, presented on the government’s initiatives to curb plastic waste, including a pilot program in four Boreys that will test the use of plastic collecting, sorting, and recycling.

He said that there are about 50 recycling businesses in Cambodia, all small-or medium-sized enterprises that need additional financial support and oversight to scale up operations.

He added that the government will continue to promote a circular economy by drafting sub-decrees to better manage unnecessary single-use plastics, supporting green tech and investments, and promoting reduced use of plastics in hotels and schools.