His Excellency Sar Kheng
Deputy Prime Minister  Of the Royal Government of Cambodia 

at the
World Summit on Sustainable Development

Johannesburg, South Africa 
04 September 2002

Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
          It is indeed a great honor to be present in the World Summit on Sustainable Development. All of the progress that has been made to date would never have been possible without the commitments of the many great people, from grassroots organizations to governments and international agencies around the world and these efforts should serve to encourage us to provide real outcomes in this WSSD.

          Today, we are here to undertake a very crucial task, we are here to review the progress our planet has made towards sustainable development in the last 10 years. We are here to remind ourselves that the global commitments, which were echoed almost 10 years ago to ensure a holistic growth based on principles of sustainable development and environment governance, are as significant now, and even more urgent now, than they were a decade ago. We are here to forge together, our collective paths, based on wisdom and mutual experience to discuss and propose stronger initiatives to achieving the objectives that were set out by Agenda 21 for achieving sustainable growth. Much of efforts and time have been spent to prepare for this meeting. And in this final meeting we must reach a unified voice in accelerating implementation of the Agenda 21, we produced 10 years ago.

          In the decade since the Rio Earth Summit of 1992, we have learned much about "Sustainable Development" than at that time, but our action is not in accordance with that knowledge. We have the scientific and technological and economic resources to achieve sustainable development. But the real test then is in asking ourselves and more importantly, committing ourselves to policy and programme mechanisms that care for the health of our planet and also address the vulnerability, poverty reduction and income enhancement issues of the poor people, in particular in the least developed countries. There is still a greater need for placing environment issues at the top of national and international agenda and for linking environment more strongly with economic growth.

          We must use this opportunity to make this affirmation to the spirit of Sustainable Development. Never more, has it been more urgent to bring environment at the fore of the development agenda, as every day, more people are added to this planet, more resources such as water and forests dwindle and are degraded, and the culture of consumerism is expanded. In fact, the very health of our planet and future of our offsprings is at stake.

          Part of the reason, is that Governments from third world countries are confronted with what they believe to be bigger problems, such as financial/economic crises, low employment rates, food security, health and education issues, extreme poverty, rapid population growth, peace and order. There is a clear lack of recognition of the interconnectivity between environmental degradation and economic and social stresses, which are increasingly evident throughout the world. There is also inadequate commitment to resolving structural problems such as external debt, financial aid for development and environmental programmes,. green technology transfer, etc.

          At the country level, the Royal Government of Cambodia considers poverty reduction based on principles of holistic growth as a key priority for sustainable development. This means a growth, which is multi-sectoral, pro-poor, gender sensitive, broad-based to encourage participation, and environmentally sound decisions. Recognizing the strong complementarity between economic growth, social development and environmental governance, the Government has defined the 21St century as the environmental century.. The 23 protected areas established in 1993 with 18% of the country's surface area and the recent decision to create 6 new protected forest reserves increase the total protected areas to 24%. Among the new forest reserves is the Cardamon mountain, one of the largest and most intact wildernesses remaining in Southeast Asia. Our Government has a plan to maintain forest covers at a level of 40-50% of the country's total land area.

          The Royal Government of Cambodia has made substantial efforts in promoting energy efficiency and renewable and cleaner energy use as part of its efforts to protect local environment as well as to contribute to the global efforts to address climate change. In close cooperation with our neighbors, we have made significant efforts in promoting sustainable use and management of our water resources. High priority is also given to the rehabilitation and improvement of our education and health care systems, which were severely affected by the more than three-decade of civil war.

          The Royal Government is committed to implementing UN Declarations on the Rights of the child, the Millennium Goals for Education and the Dakar Education for All Declaration of 2001. We recognize that human capital formation is the most critical component of long-term sustainable social and economic development. We recognize that a well-educated population is the over-arching bridge between economic growth, social well being and democratization, including improving awareness of environmental concerns. The Government is committed to implementing 9 years of quality basic education for all by 2015. Our commitment is demonstrated by doubling of education spending in the last three years. Our reforms will be undertaken in cooperation with international community and regional organizations.

          We also clearly understand that political stability and peace are a necessary and fundamental prerequisite for the country's march towards democracy, poverty alleviation and sustainable development. The country is making intensive reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts to eradicate poverty and improve the people living standard. We are undertaking these tasks in an era in which the themes of "sustainable development" and "environmental security" have come to the forefront of the global consciousness.

          We strongly support the concept of building innovative partnership between government, private sector and civil society for financing development, which was achieved in Bali recently. Industrialized and developed countries must be more sympathetic towards the needs of the much poorer developing countries. Poor countries deserve better support from the wealthier countries to their efforts in achieving sustainable development. In addition to direct aid, enabling development environment and opportunity, fairer trade, equitable partnership, and good governance are key factors toward ownership, self-sustaining, and long-term development for these countries. We must seek a mechanism to ensure that they will not become a victim of the inescapable globalization.

          Cambodia is a strong proponent of multi-stakeholders partnerships involving governments, international agencies, civil society and the private sector - working together to reduce poverty and build community involvement. In this regard we have stressed the need for equality, mutual respect and shared responsibility between partners giving rise to concrete action on the ground. The recent very successful commune election in our country is a clear evidence of the government recognition of the role of grassroots level and local community in development.

          Such practical partnerships set within the framework of clear global program of action and priorities are what we must put in place if meaningful initiatives are to emerge out of World Summit. This program gives a practical example of how type 1 agreements need to link through type 2 initiatives to change the lives of people on the ground. This is in line with the guidelines, which state, so clearly, that "partnerships are to complement, not to substitute, the globally agreed outcomes, they are not intended to substitute commitments made by governments".

          At the regional level, the RGC is strongly committed with all ASEAN and Asia and the Pacific countries to implementing the "Regional Environmental Action Plan for 2001-2005' and the "Kitakyushu initiative for Clean Environment", which were endorsed by the ministerial meeting in Kitakyushu, Japan in late 2000.

          Cambodia would like to call upon the GEF to enhance its effectiveness by improving its operational procedures to be more responsive to the identified needs of developing countries. The international community should extend their support to developing countries who are parties and those who have yet to become parties to the multilateral environmental agreements to assist them to strengthen their legislative, institutional and administrative capability and capacity to mitigate and address the specific environmental problems. Our country is fully committed to work with other countries throughout the world to address sustainable development. As a clear evidence of this, Cambodia has just acceded to the Kyoto Protocol; in addition to the many international environmental conventions we are party to such as the Climate Change Convention, Biodiversity Convention, the Ramsar Convention, the Convention on Desertification, the Montreal Protocol, etc.

          We emphasize that the declarations and commitments such as those contained in the Millennium Declaration and the Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development are valid and should not be reshaped.

          Finally, I would like to congratulate the Government of South Africa on their exemplary hospitality and professional manner in which they have hosted this WSSD.

Thank you