Swisscontact's Active Participation in Cambodia Climate Change Summit (CCCS23) Demonstrates Commitment to Cambodia's Sustainable Future 

Sustainable agriculture
The Ministry of Environment (MOE) and the Mekong Future Initiative (MFI) successfully concluded the third Cambodia Climate Change Summit (CCCS23) on November 2-3, 2023. The event brought together various stakeholders, including government officials, private sector representatives, development partners, and civil society organizations, to discuss progress and challenges in addressing climate change in Cambodia.

Ministry of Environment presented valuable insights on critical topics such as carbon markets, renewable energy, climate finance, sustainable development goals (SDGs), and environmental technological advancements across various industries, including agriculture, transportation, tourism, and commerce.

The CCCS23 featured the Sustainable Solutions EXPO, highlighting eco-friendly initiatives, products, and services from private companies and development partners. This platform provides opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration.

The summit highlighted the significant impacts of climate change on Cambodia's economy and food security, with projections indicating a 9% decline in gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050 and a 6% increase in poverty by 2040.

Although Cambodia accounts for little global emissions, climate change has direct consequences on the country's economy and food security. During the Cambodian Climate Change Summit 2023 (CCCS23), the World Bank emphasized that Cambodia will lose more than 9% of its gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050, from the negative effect of climate change, and lead to an increase of poverty by 6% by 2040.  Additionally, it is estimated that 42% of Cambodia’s agricultural land is medium-to-severely degraded (Ingalls et al. 2018), contributing to an estimated cost of USD 677 million, or 3% of Cambodia’s GDP in 2010 (UNCCD, 2018).

Swisscontact, under the Swiss pavilion banner, actively participated in CCCS23 by highlighting its contributions to climate change mitigation and adaptation in Cambodia. The organization's work focuses on unleashing the potential of private initiatives in developing and emerging countries. The prioritizing two areas of work include:

  • Private Sector Engagement: Swisscontact, through its private sector engagement initiatives, plays a vital role in addressing climate change by promoting sustainable business practices, supporting renewable energy projects, building climate resilience, fostering green innovation, encouraging carbon neutrality, and facilitating knowledge sharing within the business community.
  • Policy Support: Swisscontact's involvement in policy support related to climate change is multi-faceted. They work with governments, local communities, and businesses to develop, advocate for, and implement policies that promote climate change mitigation, enhance adaptation efforts, and foster sustainable practices.

Furthermore, Swisscontact's work in Cambodia toward addressing climate change focuses on three key focus areas: Technical and Vocational Education, Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, and Sustainable Agriculture (ISA). The projects that Swisscontact runs in these focus areas are the Skills Development Program (SDP), Enhancing Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and Investments (3EI) and Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture (ISA)

To contribute to environmental protection and mitigate the impacts of climate change, Green Education and Training have become a global trend and are high on the agenda of the Cambodian Government. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT) and the Skill Development Programme (SDP), a project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has been initiating the “Green TVET” at the Provincial Training Centres (PTCs) in 5 provinces (Kratie, Stung Treng, Preah Vihear, Rattanakiri and Mondulkiri). Green TVET aims to increase awareness of learners, trainers, and school management on environmental protection and support TVET schools and businesses to become eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable.

3Ei is a five-year initiative (2023 – 2027) implemented by Khmer Enterprise and Swisscontact and co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Ministry of Economy and Finance (Khmer Enterprise). Among other activities, 3Ei through the Enterprises Investment Support (EIS) supports, among other, enterprises promoting green activities/products, by providing Technical Assistance to companies.  

Swisscontact through the ISA project has been working closely with key partner Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD) to promote regenerative agriculture in Cambodia. The Government counterparts that the ISA works with are the Department of Agricultural Extension, Forestry and Fisheries (DEAFF), Department of Agriculture Engineering (DAENG), Department of Agriculture Land Resource Management (DALRM), Department of Rice Crop (DRC) and Department of Crop Sees (DCS). ISA, along with its partners, visualizes six systems that need to work in cohesion to effectively facilitate the uptake and adoption of agroecology. Agroecology describes farming practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle. These benefits result from the practice of minimum mechanical soil disturbance. (i.e., no tillage) through direct seed placement, implementing permanent soil organic cover with crop residues and/or cover crops and species diversification. ISA facilitates access to machinery, inputs, and extension services allowing for a sustainable intensification of agricultural production for at least 9,000 smallholder farmers (30% women). ISA is also involved, along with CIRAD, in an initiative Dei Meas in developing an incentive system that support farmers transition to sustainable agricultural practices.

The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has committed to several international agreements such as the National Determined Contribution (NDC), Long-Term Strategy for Climate Neutrality (LTS4CN) and Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) in which an agricultural transition toward more sustainable systems was proved necessary to reach their goals of neutrality regarding carbon emissions and land degradation. The RGC is also a member of the 4p1000 initiative, that promotes an annual increase of 0.4% of the soil carbon stocks in the first 40 cm of soil to significantly reduce the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere related to human activities.

Since 2018, CIRAD and Swisscontact have been working with Cambodian institutions to promote agroecology transition for smallholder farmers, supporting the creation and implementation of ambitious national initiatives such as CASIC or Metkasekor. Agroecology practices represent a great potential to restore degraded lands, optimize nutrient availability, and fight climate change while directly enhancing food security and farmers’ livelihoods.  

During CCCS23, several initiates and pilots on sustainable agriculture were presented through the booth exposition and through the panel discussions.  

  • The Dei Meas (Golden Soil) pilot initiate was presented by Pierre Vernet (Swisscontact) during the panel on “Carbon Market: Potential and prospects for Cambodia”, alongside KosherClimate and IFC (World Bank),
  • CASIC and Metkasekor were both presented by Dr. Ho Puthea (MAFF-GDA-CASIC) during the panel discussion on “Inclusive water governance and Agro-ecology for climate resilience”, alongside HEKS, FAO, NURTURE and Impact Hub.

This event was a great opportunity to highlight the joint work of CIRAD and Swisscontact in Cambodia and allowed numerous interactions and discussions with leading actors of the development, environment, and agriculture sectors, which shall support future exchanges and collaborations.

Swisscontact applies the Inclusive Systems Development Approach in all its work. The approach is underpinned by working with system actors to reach impact, scale, and sustainability.  

Swisscontact's active participation in CCCS23 underscores its commitment to supporting Cambodia's transition towards a more sustainable and resilient future in the face of climate change. The organization's initiatives provide concrete solutions to address climate change impacts and promote sustainable development in Cambodia.

Sustainable agriculture
Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture 
The project promotes appropriate technologies and extension services for a sustainable intensification of agricultural production leading to reduced negative impacts on the environment including an improved soil health that allows smallholder farmers to increase their productivity and income.