Cambodia’s Air Quality Improvement Program Kick-Off

Phnom Penh, Cambodia – 05 May 2023 – Cambodia launched the Air Quality Improvement Program. The event was presided by H.E. Pak Sokharavuth, Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Environment, and was joined by Mr. Emmanuel DOLLFUS, AFD Deputy Country Director, H.E. Chhoun Voun, Director General, Ministry of Public Works and Transport, H.E. Danh Serey, Director General of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Environment, and Dr. Frank Rijsberman, GGGI Director General.

The two-year project will develop an emission inventory, produce an air quality control air quality data system, which will be institutionalized into the Ministry of Environment system, and build a roadmap for a low-carbon transportation strategy for Siem Reap Municipality.

Mr. Emmanuel DOLLFUS, AFD Deputy Country Director, said, “Air pollution is both a local and a global phenomenon. It affects not only urban and peri-urban areas, but also rural areas, and unfortunately, it is the most vulnerable people who are usually most exposed to its effects. Aware of the importance of this topic in the region, AFD developed back in 2020 a Regional Program for Air Quality Improvement in Southeast Asia, which aimed to support partner countries and cities in their efforts to develop and implement policies and projects in order to improve air quality. AFD strongly believes that this regional program will contribute to the circular of the Prime Minister on measures to prevent and reduce the ambient air pollution by setting a common vision for air quality improvement at the national level and mainstreaming air quality improvement objectives at governmental and ministries levels.”

H.E. Pak Sokharavuth, in his opening remark, mentioned that tackling air pollution is one of the Government’s priorities. The Government, through the Ministry of Environment, has made great efforts to reduce air pollution, ranging from regulatory measures to action plans in different sectors – transportation, industry, residential, energy, and waste. The Clean Air Plan of Cambodia, developed in 2021, is a national strategic document, that signified the RGC’s recognition and a strong commitment. The Plan outlines concrete actions regarding air quality status, main air pollution sources, legal documents, a management program for emission by sectors, and mitigation measures. Other important regulatory measures such as Circular No.01 on Measures to Prevent and Reduce the Ambient Air Pollution, ambient air quality standards for PM10 and PM2.5, emission standards for vehicles, and a fuel quality standard.

The project was initiated under the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, and Agence Francaise de Development (AFD). AFD funds the program as part of its Regional Program for Air Quality Improvement in Southeast Asia to improve air quality in partner countries and cities, while Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) will lead the implementation and provide technical support to the ministries and participating municipality, Siem Reap.

H.E. Danh Serey, Director General of Environmental Protection, said that ‘I am very optimistic about the project and that it will be an important catalyst to improve air quality, enhance public health and protect the environment in order to achieve our 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The project will provide technical assistance to ensure the quality and accuracy of air quality data, data collection on air pollution emissions from the transport sector, and strengthening inventory activities, and so on’’.

Representing Ministry of Public Works and Transport at the launch, H.E. Chhoun Voun, Director General of the General Department of Land Transport, mentioned that the rapid growth in the transportation sector as the result of economic growth, in spite of that it creates some concerns on the negative impacts to environment, particularly in the area of air pollution. H.E. Chhoun Voun continued ‘’The Ministry of Public Works and Transport has put a lot of effort and resources into developing a sustainable (low-carbon)  transport sector, both public and private. We are currently focusing on introducing regulatory measures, resource mobilization for supporting infrastructures, and public awareness raising for electric vehicles and plan to promote public transportation, such as public bus, light rail transit, subway and so on’’.

At the launch event, Dr. Frank Rijsberman, said, “Air pollution is the greatest environmental threat to human health across Asian cities, and Phnom Penh is no exception. Improved Air Quality monitoring will improve knowledge – to take action to improve both air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” He continued: “For Cambodia the key contributors to poor air quality are biomass burning and transportation. The current revolution to change transportation from fossil fuel combustion to electric powered buses, cars and motorbikes is a great opportunity to address both air pollution and the climate crisis. I am very pleased that this new project will address both improved air quality monitoring and accelerating the adoption of e-mobility in Cambodia”.