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  • Writer's pictureChannara Thea

Cambodian Youth Involvement in Green Initiatives


Youths are the most important part of population to tackle climate challenges.

Similar to other countries in the world, there are many critical environmental challenges that have remained in Cambodia, for decades now. Starting from deforestation, over air, and water pollution,  due to illegal logging, to growing urbanization, a lack of capacity in waste management, etc.

 

To tackle these worldwide problems, Cambodia has been committed to green initiatives through many related priorities. One example can be found in The National Strategic Plan on Green Growth 2013-2030. This national policy aims to enhance Cambodia’s economic status while efficiently using natural resources.

 

In alignment with this commitment, in 2021 Cambodia submitted its Long-term Strategy for Carbon Neutrality (LTS4CN) to the UNFCCC. As a member of Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), in November 2023, Cambodia was the first country endorsing the ‘Blue Skies & Net Zero 2050’ campaign in the region. Along with this priority, in 2023, the circular strategy on environment for 2023-2028 was launched with a focus on clean, green and sustainable development.


Cambodia is home of plenty of sustainable youth initiatives.

Apart from the Cambodian government, to combat climate change activities, the involvement of non-governmental organizations, the private sector and especially, the new generation of Cambodian youth, is essential.


With more than 50% of youth under the age of 30 , they are the driving force for Cambodia reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, particularly issues related to the environment.


The existing strategic plans, policies, campaigns of government and the engagement of different stakeholders in the field that include non-governmental and private organizations create the opportunity for youths to involve and potentially play their roles fighting the problem.


Many youth-engaged green initiatives are ongoing within the country. For instance, the 5-year project named Cambodia Green Future Activity funded by USAID from 2019-2024 focusing on environmental conservation and sustainable natural resource management. The project targeted youths by providing knowledge to promote biodiversity protection.


One of the project implementation activities is forming environmental enthusiasts from high schools and colleges to advocate on environmental concerns, called Green Group. Today, the group has reached 800 youth across the country and estimated thousands on social media.


Another significant youth-environmental engagement event took place last year. The Cambodia Youth Climate Change Conference (CYCC) was conducted for the very first time in Cambodia with 116 people from high schools, universities, and other organizations in related fields joining. Here, current national climate issues were discussed intensively.


Projects like SokFarm serve as proof that youth-led eco-business can work.

Such happenings not only create the opportunity for youths within the country to come and meet up, but some organizations also particularly try to bring Cambodian youths from different regions together, for having insightful site visits and exchanges. For instance, Impact Hub Phnom Penh successfully completed the “Project Green Job” last year.


With 15 youths from across the ASEAN region joining, the project took place at the Cambodian northwestern province of Battambang. As a result, ASEAN youths were provided with the opportunity to learn about sustainable entrepreneurship, opportunity exchange, and pitching their innovative ideas in sustainability initiatives.


On the other hand, some youths seriously take climate problems into their accounts by working in a small team or as an individual to promote environmental issue awareness and effectively influence others through their innovative startups and media platforms.


As one proof, JUNLEN started its business operations in 2023. The young female Cambodian owner brought up her sustainable innovative idea of transforming kitchen waste into valuable natural fertilizer to the market. That created a transformative inspiring story.


Another great example to learn from is Dai Khmer, a company for organic beauty and toiletry products, which was founded by a young Cambodian woman whose visions are to promoting eco-friendly lifestyles while empowering Cambodian women through the product operation.


Furthermore, with the rapid growth of Cambodian populations using social media to communicate, network, running businesses, etc., a young Cambodian female who is enthusiastic in environmental issues, has mastered the technology to educate masses. The founder of Zerow cleverly uses this platform to promote her passion of a sustainable lifestyle, thereby being a role model for many Cambodian youths to practice a zero-waste living.


Rolemodels like Aok Sochenda encourage fellow young people to get active as well.

The youth-led green projects and sustainable startups keep rising as the number of youths fully aware of the problem is growing. However, the demand for more environmental enthusiast hasn’t reached its limits yet. This country-wide, pressing issue requires more young people to commit and take actions to save their communities, their country, and their planet as a whole.




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