BIOFIN Cambodia begun in 2019 as the 31st member country funded the Government of Norway. UNDP Cambodia implements the BIOFIN in partnership with the Cambodian Department of Biodiversity, the Secretarial General of the National Council for Sustainable Development, Ministry of Environment.
Cambodia is one of the BIOFIN methodology countries, developing its biodiversity financing plan, and transiting to implementing the selected finance solutions in the next phase. In the analyses of developing Cambodia’s biodiversity finance plan, the project works collaboratively with key local environmental and economic experts, NGOs, academia, line government agencies and private sector.
Situated within the tropics, Cambodia is a hub of biodiversity with a diverse range of plants, mammals, birds, fish and reptile species. The recent inventory indicates that Cambodia has a diversity of 163 mammal species, 647 bird species with 7 on the new global Evolutionally Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) list, 1,357 fish species across both fresh and salt water systems, 183 reptile species, 74 amphibian species, 671 invertebrates, and 3,113 plant species. Cambodia’s forests are home to many endemic fauna and flora, ecosystems as well as to several endangered species, accounting for 1.6% of all globally endangered species on the IUCN Red List. Biodiversity is not only a source of food and livelihoods for the people of Cambodia, it also represents significant social and cultural values deeply imbedded in their way of life and traditions.
The Government of Cambodia recognises the social, economic and environmental value of biodiversity and ecosystems, and has undertaken a significant step in important environmental policy reforms for sustainable natural resource management. This resulted in a dramatic increase in Cambodia’s Protected Areas territory from 18 % to 41 % of the total land area, representing the country as one of the highest countries in the global biodiversity target; however, habitat loss and deforestation remain important challenges.
In 2019, BIOFIN Cambodia has completed key assessments listed in methodology country. Those include 1) Policy and Intuitional Review, 2) Biodiversity Expenditure Review (BER), 3) the Finance Need Assessment (FNA), the Biodiversity Finance Plan (BFP) and Finance Proposals for the prioritized finance solutions. Under BFP, there are nine finance solutions that generate revenues, three are solutions that avoid future biodiversity expenditures and two are solutions that avoid future biodiversity expenditures.
1. Developing sustainable eco-tourism (including community-based ecotourism)
Ecotourism in Cambodia is one of the Government priority actions in support of green socio-economic recovery and nature protection. Ecotourism is recognized as a subset of tourism and the term is used to cover tourism activities related to nature-based tourism, such as birdwatching, fishing, camping in natural areas, hiking, kayaking, zip-lining, and adventure tourism in protected areas. This finance solution is aimed to develop community-based ecotourism through encouraging participation of local communities by developing regulatory frameworks, and revenue management and benefit sharing mechanisms for biodiversity benefits.
2. Promoting payment for ecosystem services (PES)
The concept of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) is not entirely new to Cambodia. This solution is to stipulate direct payment for biodiversity conservation to individual villagers or communities living in and around areas targeted for conservation purposes. PES is aimed to explore sustainable financing options for effective protected area management which generates co-benefits for lobal livelihoods and biodiversity outcomes.
3. Enhancing REDD+ impact for biodiversity conservation
This is aimed to promote the sale of the carbon credits issued under all the REDD+ project to support forest and biodiversity conservation while the country is working toward the result-based payment through the national REDD+ program. This solution is aimed to pilot small scale carbon credit projects to generate revenues for biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement of the local communities and will study the potential for blue carbon project development in the coastal areas.
4. Promoting Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to avoid harm on biodiversity and ecosystem
Continued overuse of harmful chemicals has caused severe damage to biodiversity and ecosystems. GAP is aimed to provide multiple benefits to the environment, biodiversity and humans. The safety of both producers and consumers will be enhanced as they cut down on usage or consumption of chemicals. Reduction or elimination of chemicals in agriculture will avoid harm on biodiversity. Promoting GAP will avoid future expenditure that causes irreversible damages on biodiversity.
5. Build lasting national capacity to review biodiversity expenditure
During the Biodiversity Expenditure Review (BER), 12 line-ministries and over 20 development partners involved in the biodiversity sector. Increased capacity to review and tag relevant budget for biodiversity and ecosystems is important to deliver biodiversity outcomes better. This solution aims to coordinate the other government institutions and donors for their better engagement in the biodiversity sector. At the national level, natural capital accounting system is also suggested to be taken into consideration by the Cambodian government.