i. Climate change context
Cambodia, a country in Southeast Asia with a population of approximately 16.5 million people, shares borders with Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. Cambodia is considered one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts, mainly floods and droughts. Cambodia depends largely on climate-sensitive sectors including agriculture, land, water resources, forestry, and fisheries. The World Bank reports Cambodia’s limitations in infrastructure and adaptive capacity. The National Council for Sustainable Development highlights challenges in food security, agriculture production, and national development.
The Global Carbon Atlas reports that Cambodia is a low-emitting country, with emissions of 0.9 t CO2 per person in 2020. Cambodia’s 2nd National Communication (2015) reports that the energy, agriculture, land-use change, forestry, and waste disposal sectors release the most greenhouse gases. The primary source of emissions from the energy sector is the residential sub-sector, which produces 31% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Cambodia is a Non-Annex I country and officially joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in March 1996. Cambodia ratified the Kyoto Protocol in August 2002, signed the Paris Agreement in April 2016, and ratified it in February 2017. Cambodia’s membership in the Doha Amendment was approved in September 2015.
On 30 December 2021, Cambodia submitted its Long-Term Strategy for Carbon Neutrality to the Secretariat of the UNFCCC. It is one of only 49 parties to the convention to have made this submission to date and one of two Least Developed Countries that submitted a strategy with a clear target for carbon neutrality by 2050.
ii. Relevant government agencies
The Ministry of Environment coordinated Cambodia’s Climate Change Strategic Plan 2014–2023 (2013). The Ministry houses the Secretariat of the National Council for Sustainable Development and implements the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance Programme. The Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) focal point for Cambodia sits within the Department of Climate Change, General Secretariat of the National Council for Sustainable Development, which is also the focal point for the UNFCCC.
The Cambodia Climate Change Alliance is involved in mainstreaming climate change into national and sub-national policies and programs by pooling resources. The Alliance was founded by the Government of Cambodia in 2010. The Alliance published the Guidelines for Integrating Climate Change Considerations into Commune Development Planning in 2014.
The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology was created in 1999 with the main objective to address scientific and political issues related to water resources, both domestic and international. The Ministry also houses the Department of Meteorology, which manages Cambodia’s meteorological stations and related matters.
The Ministry of Rural Development oversees rural infrastructure such as streets and bridges. The Ministry is responsible for social and economic development and aims to reduce poverty. It is also responsible for ethnic minorities in Cambodia. The Ministry trains and distributes knowledge for enhanced development.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries manages the agricultural, forestry, and fishery sectors. The Ministry’s roles are to develop policies and programs in the agricultural sector and to enact legislation and regulations on managing, maintaining, and protecting natural resources in the agricultural sector.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy manages the petroleum resources of Cambodia. The Ministry supports the development of a successful domestic oil and gas industry that will bring cheaper petroleum energy sources for both industrial and domestic uses, provide security of petroleum energy supply, and contribute to sustaining economic growth.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance works on budgeting, including climate change budgeting.
The National Council for Sustainable Development is essential in mainstreaming climate change into education in Cambodia. One project aims to “initiate basic climate change mitigation and adaptation practices in the education sector by establishing climate-smart Eco-Schools” (n.p). A General Secretariat of the National Council for Sustainable Development supports the operations of the Council and coordinates development of policies, strategic plans, action plans, and legal instruments for sustainable development, including the green economy, climate change, biodiversity conservation, biosafety, and science and technology.
A Climate Change Technical Working Group was established in 2017 to facilitate and provide technical support to the National Council for Sustainable Development in addressing climate change in Cambodia. The Working Group focuses on climate change, sustainable cities, sustainable energy, sustainable consumption and production, and biodiversity. The Working Group is composed of technical staff from 19 ministries and agencies, and chaired by the Council’s Deputy Secretary General. Technical Working Groups specialize in activities such as education, training, and dissemination of information. They are key to governance and to ensuring decision making and implementation by key ministries.
The Climate Change Technical Team encompasses the Climate Finance Subgroup, which is composed of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Planning, the Cambodia Rehabilitation and Development Board, and the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development Secretariat. The Technical Team was established as an inter-ministerial body that provides technical support to the National Climate Change Committee, which was established in 2006. The Climate Change Department, under the Ministry of Environment, is responsible for coordinating activities for the Technical Team.
The Ministry of Public Works and Transport is responsible for developing national policy for public works and transport. This Ministry establishes the relevant principles, laws, and regulations and cooperates with diverse organizations to develop Cambodia’s transport infrastructure. The Ministry’s responsibilities include building, maintaining, and managing all national and provincial roads, bridges, ports, railways, and waterways. The Ministry prepares a range of policies, plans, and procedures to respond to climate change.
Education and communication
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is responsible for promoting and facilitating education, youth, and sports development. It is involved in initiatives that encourage climate action in Cambodia. The Ministry provides access to climate change knowledge through training and other initiatives available to children and youth. It holds the responsibility for curriculum development, with the Department of Curriculum Development as the technical agency.
The Ministry of Information is responsible for disseminating information on a national level. The Ministry is involved in measures and initiatives to increase access to information related to climate change.
The Ministry of Women’s Affairs takes part in climate change initiatives and formed a Gender and Climate Change Committee. Cambodia’s Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) report that this committee “conducts studies on the impact of climate change on women and children and builds climate change capacity in the ministry’s departments” (p. 41). Cambodia’s Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) mention explicitly the importance of girls’ education when it says, “The linkages between more targeted education and an increase in school enrollment for children, in particular girls, are also key to ensure the impacts of climate change do not disproportionately affect girls in terms of access to, and the completion of, education.” (p. 44)
iii. Relevant laws, policies, and plans
In 2015, Cambodia passed the Law of Disaster Management, which focuses on Cambodia’s legal frameworks for disaster prevention, adaptation, mitigation, emergency response, and recovery. Article 10 of the Law states that measures will be implemented to strengthen public awareness of programs to prevent hazard risks, including climate change adaptation.
The Environment and Natural Resources Code (2017) guides Cambodia’s natural resources. This Code integrates a dimension on climate change.
The Ministry of Environment published the National Adaptation Programme of Action to Climate Change in 2006. The Programme presents priority projects that require attention for climate change adaptation in sectors of Cambodia. The Programme highlights climate change communication and education by establishing priority project activities in raising awareness and education on climate change issues.
The European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) collaborated with the Ministry of Environment to develop Cambodia’s Climate Change Strategic Plan 2014–2023 (2013). The Climate Change Technical Team and the National Climate Change Committee were also involved in developing the Strategic Plan. In 2021, the Government of Cambodia submitted this Plan as its National Adaptation Plan to the UNFCCC.
Fourteen government institutions and ministries formulated climate change action plans to further implementation of strategic objectives of Cambodia’s Climate Change Strategic Plan 2014–2023 (2013). The Ministry of Environment developed its Climate Change Action Plan 2016–2018, focusing on climate change intervention through environmental education, environmental protection, biodiversity conservation, and natural resources. A 2018 research paper reviewed implementation challenges faced by three climate change action plans of three ministries, including the Ministry of Environment. The paper noted that integrating climate change and environmental issues at all education levels under climate action projects led by the Ministry of Environment is ongoing and financed.
The Climate Change Action Plan for Transport Sector 2014–2018 (2014), developed by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, identified measures to be implemented in 2014–2018 that promoted both transport sector development and effective climate change response. Action plans are categorized under two main strategic priorities: 1) promote climate resilience in transport infrastructure and 2) promote low-carbon consumption for greenhouse gas reduction in the transport sector.
The 2014 Guidelines for Integrating Climate Change Considerations into Commune Development Planning are a working training manual and include a coastal adaptation and resilience planning component. The planning component focuses on increasing resilience of coastal communities to climate change through adaptation planning and providing practical learning. The Guidelines consider climate change in planning processes, to make integration of climate change projections easier in future decisions and investments.
The Government of Cambodia has worked since 2017 on a National Adaptation Plan process. The government aims to bring this Plan closer to implementation by accessing funding from the Green Climate Fund. The National Adaptation Plan process was launched under the Climate Finance Readiness Programme, in cooperation with the National Council for Sustainable Development, the German Agency for International Cooperation, and USAID. In 2019, under the Ministry of Environment, the Department of Climate Change developed a readiness proposal for the National Adaptation Plan and submitted it to the Green Climate Fund.
The Ministry of Environment led the formulation of the National Environment Strategy and Action Plan (2017), which is a “roadmap for helping the ministries, institutions and concerned stakeholders to formulate strategic plans and action plans for modernizing the management of the environment and natural resources in order to ensure environmental sustainability” (p. iv). The Plan lists activities designed to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. The Plan sets policy targets and outlines objectives and outcomes that further Plan implementation. Plan Objective 4.2 is to strengthen public awareness to enhance proper environmental decision making, through the activity of increasing public awareness of the environment and climate change through outreach programs. Plan Objective 4.1 is to develop and implement a succinct system program for environment and natural resource conservation and disaster management, through the activity of integrating sustainable development and natural resource objectives in the education curriculum.
The Rectangular Strategy Phase IV (2018) guides implementation of the national government agenda, selecting key elements from the Millennium Development Goals, the Cambodia Socio-Economic Development Program, the Cambodia National Poverty Reduction Strategy (2002), and various policies, strategies, plans, and reform programs. The Rectangular Strategy reports that climate change has had adverse effects on Cambodia’s ecosystem and socio-economic development. The Rectangular Strategy focuses on climate change in its pillar four, ‘Ensuring the environmental sustainability and pre-emptive response to the climate change.’
The Cambodia Sustainable Development Goals Framework 2016–2030 (2018) is pivotal in committing to sustainability and addressing climate change for Cambodia. Cambodia’s priorities are presented as goals, targets, and indicators, and ministries are identified to implement activities and achieve targets.
The National Strategic Development Plan (2019–2023) was promulgated by law and adopted in 2019. Its goals are to promote climate change resilience and mainstream a low-carbon society. In response to climate change, the Plan aims to develop a “roadmap for implementing the National Determined Contributions for the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change” (2019, p. 220).
The Rural Development Strategy Action Plan 2019–2023 (2018), developed by the Ministry of Rural Development, anticipates new challenges and developments in rural Cambodia, especially those related to resilience to climate change and to growing gender equality. The Plan stresses the importance of climate change education that “should not aim only to foster public understanding of climate change and literacy among students, but also to reorient the entire education system to achieve low emission and climate-resilient-development” (p. 16).
The National Strategic Development Plan 2019–2023 (2019) summarizes the key achievements and challenges during implementation of the National Strategic Development Plan 2014–2018 and lays out the macroeconomic framework for 2019–2023. The 2019 Plan outlines policies and priority actions for 2019–2023 to be carried out by relevant ministries and presents estimated values, including expenses, resources, and an expenditure program. The 2019 Plan also presents the framework for monitoring and evaluation in the 2019–2023 phase and shows extensive conclusions. The 2019 Plan reports that disseminating environmental information and “promoting the participation of environment-friendly activities to achieve better public participation in environmental protection, biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources” (p. 136) is the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment and the National Council for Sustainable Development.
The Climate Change Action Plan for Energy Sector 2021–2023 (2020), developed by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, is a comprehensive strategic plan that contributes to climate change response in the energy sector for the Ministry, agencies, development partners, private sectors, non-governmental organizations, and stakeholders. The Plan also outlines participation with the international community to address the impacts of climate change.
The Long-Term Strategy for Carbon Neutrality (2021) outlines priority mitigation actions for each sector to achieve Cambodia’s goal of a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. The Strategy largely builds on existing commitments of the government and proposes a trajectory consistent with the Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020). It takes into consideration the balance between emissions reductions, economic growth, social justice, and climate resilience.
Cambodia’s Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) outline a new clear goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to about 64.6 million t CO2 equivalent. The Contributions have a special focus on gender and youth. The Contributions identify 58 priority adaptation activities in nine sectors: agriculture; coastal areas; energy; human health; industry; infrastructure (roads, buildings, and urban land-use planning); livelihoods, poverty and biodiversity; tourism; and water resources. It prioritizes 29 diverse activities in areas including education, gender, information governance, and knowledge sharing, and related policies and action plans.
Specific issues related to climate change are linked to specific policy frameworks in Appendix 1 (p. 90) and Appendix 2 (p. 103) of the Updated National Determined Contributions (2020). The Cambodia Climate Change Alliance assisted in developing Cambodia’s Climate Change Strategic Plan 2014–2023 (2013). Currently, the Alliance is in the third phase of its program (2019–2024). It supports increasing awareness about climate change by serving as the foundation for 14 sectoral climate change action plans, including one for education. The National Adaptation Plan’s (2017) objectives build on those listed in the Strategic Plan. Climate change action plans are formulated for sectors such as the tourism sector, the rural development sector, and the transport sector. They are formulated on behalf of ministries such as the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
Education and communication
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports developed the Climate Change Strategic Plan for Education 2014–2023 (2013) as an instrument to create change-related content and integrate it into school curricula. To ensure Plan implementation, the Plan emphasizes the importance of embedding environmental issues and climate change within education and the aims of the Ministry. The Plan lists the immediate Ministry objective to provide access to “knowledge and skills for preventing and solving problems caused by climate change” (p. 12).
Cambodia’s Education Strategic Plan 2019–2023 (2019), developed by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is designed to implement education, youth, and sport reforms and establish a robust base for education to 2030 and beyond. However, the Plan does not include references to climate change or environment.
The Climate Change Action Plan for Education 2014–2018 (2014) was implemented to achieve the aims and strategies outlined in the Climate Change Strategic Plan for Education 2014–2023 (2013). The Action Plan focuses on building capacity for climate change adaptation and mitigation for teachers, students, and education officers through pathways such as research, curriculum development, policy development, and training.
The sub-strategy to implement education policies listed in the Education Strategic Plan 2019–2023 (2019) includes improvement of teaching methods by combining classroom teaching with the “surrounding environment and understanding the goals of sustainable development” (p. 95). However, climate change is not included.
The National Curriculum Framework (2015) lists goals to develop life-long learning skills to broaden knowledge on aspects of Cambodia that contribute to sustainable development. The environment is included within the subject of Earth-Environmental Science, with attitudes that the curriculum aims to develop. Climate change is not referenced in the curriculum.
Under the Strategic Program for Climate Resilience, the Cambodia Development Resource Institute, in collaboration with the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance, published the Policy Recommendations: Impact of Climate Change Programs in Cambodia: Vulnerability, Poverty, and Gender in 2022. The Five-Year Mekong River Island Connectivity Project (2016–2020) recommends potential actions to address climate change impacts in the provinces of Kampong Cham and Tboung Khmum. An action relevant to children and students is providing scholarship programs that cover education and study materials for learning about climate change.
Cambodia’s Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) set out clearly the role of education for both mitigation and adaptation actions for climate change and for raising awareness. Among the enabling actions to be led by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the Contributions mention 1) upgrading curriculum and training methodologies, including libraries, to include climate change subjects in primary school education; 2) upgrading curricula to include climate change for non-formal education; 3) building centers of excellence for delivering climate change courses and research among universities; and 4) conducting training for education officials on climate change as a required component of teacher training.
iv. Terminology used for Climate Change Education and Communication
The Climate Change Strategic Plan for Education 2014–2023 (2013) focuses on ‘building capacities’ in climate change ‘adaptation’ and ‘response.’ The vision of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is to “develop quality climate change education for sustainable development.” (p. 6). The Plan states that “environmental awareness is the main principle for our future green education” (p. 6) and outlines how it paves the way to environmental decision making. In this sense, environmental awareness can improve knowledge and skills of schools and economic sectors in addressing climate change. The Plan states that Cambodian higher education focuses on climate change themes by studying risks and impacts and developing “active social awareness” (p. 1). Improvement of environmental education is also included as a theme in higher education.
The Climate Change Strategic Plan 2014–2023 (2013) emphasizes ‘public awareness’ and ‘participation’ in climate change response actions as goals to fulfill the Plan’s mission. The mission prioritizes stakeholder engagement in supporting a national climate change response and sustainable development framework.
The Climate Change Action Plan for Education 2014–2018 (2014) emphasizes ‘awareness about climate change and its impacts’ for teachers and students to head toward a ‘resilient society.’
The Climate Change Action Plan for Education 2014–2018 (2014) uses ‘sustainability education’ as a core principle that includes:
- Each individual is a part of local and global systems.
- Everyone can acquire the knowledge and tools to have a positive impact on natural and human environments.
- Sustainability requires a respect for all cultures and recognition of the interdependence of all people in the global community.
- Indigenous peoples have a long history of sustainability through their traditional ecological knowledge.
- Sustainability lessons learned at school transfer to the home and community.
- Non-Governmental Organizations and community groups provide enhanced opportunities for sustainability education programs and resources.
- Leadership by example means integrating elements of sustainability into all decisions and actions.
- Sustainability, climate change, energy consumption and waste awareness are issues of environmental and socio-economic concern.
- Environmental sustainability issues should be addressed in as many subject areas as possible, in age-appropriate context using a range of educational methods, including systems and futures thinking, inquiry, discovery, active learning and problem-solving.
- Classroom learning and school facilities/operations should work together towards common sustainability goals, including greenhouse gas reductions.
- Sustainability principles apply to the design, construction and renewal of school buildings. This may include transportation, procurement and resource use such as energy, water and waste management.
- School structures and natural outdoor spaces can be used to teach about sustainability. (p. 15–16)
The National Curriculum Framework (2015) references ‘environment’ in subjects such as Earth-Environmental Science and Social Studies. The ‘surrounding environment’ is directly referenced, and the prioritized action is to ‘love and value’ the environment under learning outcomes for each school level. The Framework advocates for development of life-long learning skills in domains such as history, cultural identity, and the “environment of the nation” (p. 3). However, it does not reference or cover climate change.
The Climate Change Lexicon Book in Khmer was developed by the Department of Climate Change and approved by the National Council of Khmer Language in 2017 to ensure consistency and accuracy in the use of climate change terminology. The Lexicon includes terminology from agriculture to pollution. It offers translations for the most frequently used terms in English, including organizations, to Khmer.
v. Budget for climate change education and communication
The National Council for Sustainable Development mentions that the government uses around 1% of Cambodia’s gross domestic product for public spending on climate change. The Council launched the Climate Change Financing Framework in 2015. The Framework identifies how climate change can impact Cambodia’s economy and provides steps to mobilize climate finance from both domestic and international sources. It proposes the establishment of a National Climate Funding Facility to mainstream climate financing in all government structures. The Director of the Department of Climate Change delivered a presentation at the Regional National Adaptation Plan Expo for Asia in 2017 on Cambodia’s Experience in Managing Climate Finance at National Level. The Funding Facility is proposed for a smooth transition of climate finance management by key institutions such as the Secretariat of the National Council of Sustainable Development, the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and other ministries associated with climate change response.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance released the Cambodia Climate Public Expenditure Review 2020 in 2022. The Review provides an update on climate finance trends, including data up to fiscal year 2020, to monitor the extent to which Cambodia and its development partners are effectively supporting national climate change priorities. In 2020, climate change expenditure was 2.2% of gross domestic product (up from 2% in 2019).
The Government of Cambodia started a process for a National Adaptation Plan (2017) and submitted it for funding to the Green Climate Fund. The Plan process prioritizes climate financing and mobilization of funds. Based on the 2015 Climate Public Expenditures Review, the national budget allocated over US$ 52.7 million (CR 211 billion) toward climate expenditure. Within the National Adaptation Plan, almost 25% of the government’s public spending is focused on climate-related aspects. Between 2009 and 2014, climate-related spending rose by 1.3%. Climate-related costs include sector funding such as for agriculture, rural development, and disaster risk reduction to enhance climate change resilience. However, climate change communication and education are not referenced within the budget.
To execute the National Adaptation Plan process, the National Adaptation Plan Financing Framework and Implementation Plan was developed in 2017. The Framework reports that climate expenditure from domestic resources was estimated to be US$ 52 million in 2014. External financing contributes the majority of funding to climate expenditure, estimated to be US$ 159 million in 2014.
The Cambodia Climate Change Alliance addresses climate change in Cambodia. It strengthens the National Council for Sustainable Development in fulfilling its mandate to prioritize climate change action. The Alliance is supported by the Council and the Ministry of Environment and is funded by the UNDP, the European Union, and Sweden to develop climate change action plans and projects. The budget for the third phase of the program (2019–2024) is estimated to be US$ 11.9 million.
The Climate Change Strategic Plan for Education 2014–2023 (2013) states that finances for the Plan goals will come primarily from paid programs and from a national trust fund.
Cambodia’s Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) lists funding requirements for adaptation actions and for implementation of enabling actions that cover climate change communication and education. The cost is estimated to be US$ 21 million of the total US$ 2 billion required for adaptation actions for sectors such as infrastructure, water, and agriculture.
i. Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education
Climate change and environmental education are on the path to broader recognition in Cambodia. The European Union, Sweden, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have pushed for better climate and environmental education in Cambodia to promote science and technology within education. Climate Change Education has been integrated into an expanded Earth Science curriculum accessible to higher secondary school students. Vulnerability to climate change, factors that drive climate change, and how to reduce greenhouse emissions, are said to be some of the topics that students in Grades 10 and 12 will study under this curriculum. However, information on the curriculum’s implementation and status was not available at the time of this review.
Cambodia’s Climate Change Strategic Plan 2014–2023 (2013) reiterates the importance of mainstreaming climate change knowledge and information in education. The Plan states that mainstreaming climate change-based education in formal and non-formal settings is the “key principle to sustaining climate change awareness for a green, equitable and climate-resilient society” (p. 12). The Plan also states that an enabling environment is vital for developing climate change awareness and education, made possible by focusing on communication structures and systems. The Plan’s Strategic Objective 5 states that “capacities, knowledge and awareness for climate change responses” need to be improved, and respective strategies entail integrating climate change into curricula for all levels of education (p. 16).
The Climate Change Strategic Plan for Education 2014–2023 (2013) highlights strategic objectives that prioritize the integration of climate change in the curriculum. For instance, curriculum training and teacher training will include climate change and environmental education and raise awareness about the importance of climate change in education. The Plan reports that a working group assembled within the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, under the Department of Curriculum Development and other departments, has launched a national curriculum covering environment and health education, a life skills program, and vocational education. Environmental education and climate change awareness are addressed within each of these areas. The life skills program comprises modules on fundamental environmental issues that are accessible for specific audiences and school-level science subject curricula. They include “Biodiversity Conservation, Climate Change and Sustainable Lifestyle, Energy Efficiency and Conservation, and Renewable Energy, Waste Management, Water Conservation” (p. 5). Vocational education covers environmental awareness along with building climate change capacity, specifically in the agricultural sector. The Plan highlights the need for curricula to reflect climate change by studying topics such as global warming, ozone depletion, and fossil use. Overall, the Plan highlights Cambodia’s long-term goal to ensure that young students and people will learn to mitigate climate change. Priority activities that strengthen access to quality climate change education are highlighted by guaranteeing access to a curriculum that reflects an integration of climate change and environmental protection.
The Climate Change Action Plan for Education 2014–2018 (2014) outlines four strategic areas that prioritize improving climate change capacity within the education sector, related to education and awareness raising:
- Improving education policy and planning on climate change issues;
- Improving education quality on climate change for formal education;
- Promoting awareness and mainstreaming climate change in non-formal education;
- Promoting green concepts and climate-proofing schools, universities, and education facilities (p. 15).
The National Curriculum Framework (2015) reiterates that kindergarten, primary school, lower secondary school, and upper secondary school students should learn to “love and value the environment, science and technology” (p. 24) and imbibe them as ‘attitudes.’ However, the Framework does not reference climate change. The Framework did not initially reflect the inclusion of climate change adaptation and mitigation until various climate change-centric policies were published based on education.
Cambodia stresses project implementation with the collaboration of international and domestic entities. The project entitled Mainstreaming Climate Change Education (2018), is supported by the European Union-funded Global Climate Change Alliance and the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance. The project aims to improve knowledge of climate change in secondary schools by introducing a climate change subject into the national education curriculum. Eco-schools have been supported through this initiative, established by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Environment. Students are involved as project committee members and provide funding. They participate in activities that are environmentally sound and friendly, such as growing trees. The project is being implemented in four provinces of Cambodia, and the beneficiaries are education decision makers, teachers, and secondary students.
Climate change booklets and other resources for lower and higher secondary schools were developed by the Ministry of Environment in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. The lower secondary school booklet on climate change was developed and approved in 2019 and designated as additional learning and teaching materials. The climate change textbook for upper secondary level was developed in 2018. It is nationwide use and has been a good innovation and reference for both students and the public. Many other communication and knowledge products have been developed and are under development, such as a video documentary on climate change, short clips, case studies, and leaflets to improve student understanding and awareness.
The Department of Climate Change, with the support of the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance – Phase 3, is working closely with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to mainstream climate change education in formal and non-formal education. For instance, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is implementing a project titled Mainstreaming Climate Change and Increasing Resilience in the Education Sector. The project aims to develop learning and teaching materials on climate change education for primary school, testing tools, and training for primary teachers, and to foster the implementation of the Eco-school program in Cambodia.
The Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) report prioritizing the integration of climate change in curricula as ‘enabling action,’ and that Ministries are responsible for implementing it. This action will be overseen by the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports.
ii. Climate change in teacher training and teaching resources
The Climate Change Strategic Plan for Education 2014–2023 (2013) states that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports has a vision to “develop quality climate change education for sustainable development in Cambodia” (p. 10). To achieve this, the Ministry established modules for teachers on developing climate change adaptation and reduction. The modules are designed to help teachers integrate environmental topics such as climate change in formal and non-formal curricula. Topics include the atmosphere and the Earth’s energy, climate change, and weather and climate. Educators and students (formal and non-formal education) can also access the Training-of-Trainer Climate Change module, which advocates for education for sustainable development and its practical implications, with reference to climate change issues. The module’s four segment are: 1) Education for sustainable development: A worldwide priority; 2) How to implement education for sustainable development; 3) We all have a role; and 4) Challenges (p. 11).
In 2013, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports published a lesson plan and principles for trainers and teachers-in-training called Content of Environmental Life Skills for Teacher Training Centres, covering topics related to climate change and the environment. The lessons are designed to strengthen building of awareness, lead to greater understanding of environmental issues and climate change, and provide opportunities for behavior and attitude change by students in primary education. The aim is to increase awareness of topics related to environmental issues, life skills development, and better teacher learning processes for better outcomes. The lessons provide briefing notes for teachers and trainers enrolled in teacher training centers and at primary schools for developing environmental life skills through teaching.
The 2nd National Communication (2015) indicates a need for more development in teaching about climate change across academic institutions in Cambodia. However, the Communication does not reference teacher training in the context of climate change.
The Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) list many ‘enabling actions’ in education that will be overseen by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. These include emphasis on training for education officials on climate change, which will be a mandated component of teacher training (p. 39). The Ministry also highlights the significance of integrating climate change into the teacher training curriculum. The Contributions view teacher training as an action that needs implementation to improve climate change adaptation within Cambodia.
iii. Climate change in higher education
The inclusion of climate change topics in higher education in Cambodia focuses on the cognitive learning and action-oriented behavior change dimensions. According to the Climate Change Strategic Plan for Education 2014–2023 (2013), climate change in higher education is included in two main themes:
- To improve the quality of education of the students and communities by educating on climate change impact, disaster risk, adaptation and resilience to climate change, encouraging teachers, students and communities involve with CCE activity, protecting deforestation, air pollution and water resource and an active social awareness, rather than these people always relying on central government or aid agencies to help them out. In fact, encouraging and achieving a more independent attitude to solving some of their own problems lead to getting personal satisfaction from making progress themselves.
- To encourage and assist the teacher, student and community to participate more directly in improving environment education (CCE). The successful development of these aims would make a significant contribution by strengthening the knowledge on environment education (CCE). (p. 1–2)
The Royal University of Phnom Penh hosted a seminar in 2015 called Advancing Climate Change Education in Cambodia, introducing a countrywide curriculum inclusive of climate change. The seminar was co-organized by the Royal University of Agriculture, the United States Agency for International Development Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests (USAID LEAF) program, the USAID Cambodia’s Supporting Forests and Biodiversity project, and Asian university partners. The curriculum has four modules that all universities in Cambodia are expected to introduce: basic knowledge on climate change, environmental issues interconnected with social aspects, low emissions land-use planning, and carbon monitoring. In 2020, it was reported that six other universities in Cambodia have incorporated climate change in curricula and boosted climate-related research through scholarships and potential partnerships with international academic institutions. The universities that introduced the curriculum include Prek Leap National School of Agriculture, University of Battambang, Mean Chey University, Svay Rieng University, Chea Sim University of Kamchaymear, and Kampong Cham National School of Agriculture.
Higher education in Cambodia reflects the participation of multiple organizations to further the integration of climate change in formal curricula. The 2nd National Communication (2015) notes limited inclusion of climate change in higher education institutions. However, many universities are involved in initiatives that further climate change education.
The Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) state that building centers of excellence to provide climate change courses and related research in universities is considered an ‘enabling action’ for climate action under education. One such organization is housed within the Royal University of Agriculture of Cambodia. The Centre of Excellence supports agricultural research and education and provides training to agricultural workers. However, this Centre does not include climate change material in its curriculum.
iv. Climate change in training and adult learning
Cambodia’s Climate Change Strategic Plan 2014–2023 (2013) includes a section on creating training opportunities for stakeholders, including farmers and people working with water, and aims to “provide educational training on information dissemination, transfer and sharing” (p. 37).
Mekong WET: Building Resilience of Wetlands in the Lower Mekong Region is funded by international development entities to build climate resilience by benefiting from the wetlands in Cambodia and neighboring countries in specific regional focal sites. In 2019, 30 community members and wetland managers from Mekong WET focal sites attended a citizen journalism training workshop in Koh Kong City. The workshop helped participants produce reports of ecosystem services and learn about climate change impacts on wetlands and local livelihoods. It was organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in collaboration with Apsara TV, a national media outlet.
REACT (Strengthening climate change REsearch And innovation CapactiTies in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam), a 3-year Erasmus+ project to build capacity, is co-financed by the European Commission and supports higher education institutions in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. REACT held its second Training of Trainers module in Cambodia in 2018. The module objectives for trainees include increasing knowledge and understanding of climate change and international climate change frameworks and their respective actions. The module also covered developing solutions for climate risk management, adaptation, and mitigation through case studies and analysis and management of risks.
Academic institutions also further skills related to climate change. A 2018 training workshop entitled Climate Change Vulnerability, Impact and Adaptation Assessment was organized by the Department of Climate Change in collaboration with the Royal University of Agriculture. It was funded by the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance. Participants included the Climate Change Technical Working Group of the National Council for Sustainable Development, other relevant ministries, academics, and students.
The 2nd National Communication (2015) reports that over 80 training sessions, capacity building workshops, and public awareness activities related to climate change have been conducted in Cambodia since 2000.
In June 2022, knowledge sharing events were organized and presided over by the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Environment, to capitalize on knowledge gained through implementation of climate change projects that the Ministry is leading for university partnerships. The aim was to foster dissemination of lessons learned from work being conducted by a wide range of practitioners in Cambodia.
In June 2022, the Department of Climate Change, in alignment with its mandate and with the support of the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance, organized training workshops for specific communities of Cambodia to enhance public awareness on climate change. The Department also enhances understanding of youth and their involvement in climate change-related issues.
The Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) report that various Ministries have enabling roles in implementing actions within policy. For example, the Ministry of Information is active in “training and enhancing human capacity on climate change in the information sector” (p. 39) as an enabling action for climate change adaptation.
i. Climate change and public awareness
The Government of Cambodia has prioritized climate change communication in many national climate change strategies and policies. The Climate Change Strategic Plan 2014–2023 (2013) includes “strengthening existing channels for promoting awareness on climate change through government service providers, teachers, journalists, extension services, religious leaders and community elders” (p. 16). This is a sub-strategy to Strategic Objective 5, which aims to improve capacities, knowledge, and awareness for climate change responses. Promotion of climate change awareness is a goal under the vision of implementing the Plan. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport has the responsibility to raise awareness of how climate change is caused by rising greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.
The National Council for Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Environment collaborated to produce Understanding Public Perceptions of Climate Change in Cambodia: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices in 2020, the third study in a series. The studies are conducted every 5 years with the aim of designing future efforts to raise awareness raising and interventions to engage different groups of Cambodia’s society to effectively respond to climate change. The study states that more than the 70% of men and women in Cambodia are aware of the term ‘climate change.’ People with higher education levels, especially university education, are more likely to understand the term ‘climate change’ in depth. Increasing public awareness is one of the main goals of the study.
The National Environment Strategy and Action Plan 2016–2023 (2017) outlines an objective to mainstream public awareness and informed environmental decision making. A sub-objective is to increase public awareness of climate change and environmental issues through public outreach programs. The Plan is closely linked to impact indicators and to monitoring effects on indicators for Sustainable Development Goals.
The 2nd National Communication (2015) refers to a 2009 project in Cambodia called the Climate Change Strengthening and Awareness Raising Programme. The Programme was supported by Danida and Oxfam America and was included as an adaptation activity under the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (2010). The Programme prioritized climate change awareness and used modalities such as newspaper articles, TV and radio debates, media campaigns, student art contests, and climate change material development to enhance climate change awareness.
The Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) highlight several sectoral objectives that emphasize public awareness of climate change-related aspects. For instance, under detailed mitigation measures, the Contributions list raising public awareness of climate change innovation and outline details such as leadership by government ministries and allocated financing.
ii. Climate change and public access to information
Facilitation of public access to information about climate change is encouraged by policies in Cambodia. Under the objective of improving climate change response, the Climate Change Strategic Plan 2014–2023 (2013) proposes establishing a knowledge management center for people to access up-to-date information for climate change response. Under the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance Programme, the knowledge management center is thriving. The Final Evaluation of Cambodia Climate Change Alliance - Phase II Programme was published and completed in 2019. The Programme Phase II prioritized development of the knowledge management center. The Evaluation confirmed that the knowledge management framework for climate change response and its action plan were finalized in 2016. A data portal as a part of the broader website under the National Council for Sustainable Development was launched in 2019. The knowledge management system has an important role “to provide significant improvements in access to relevant information, data and tools for awareness, learning and research on climate change” (Evaluation, p. 26). The data portal includes vulnerability to climate change measured in assessments, climate finance, institutional readiness, and greenhouse gas emissions. The Strategic Plan aims to strengthen public access to information through channels such as radio, television, newspapers, mobile technologies, and websites.
The 2nd National Communication (2015) notes that the Department of Climate Change has a significant role in coordinating climate change information and networking. In 2001, the Department hosted and launched the Climate Change website, which is reportedly up to date with climate change-related information. However, the website was not accessible at the time of this review.
The Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) list enhancing broadcast quality and expanding coverage capacity to raise climate change awareness nationwide as an adaptation action. Public access to information is advocated within this action, and the Ministry of Information will be designated as the lead responsible for this action.
iii. Climate change and public participation
The Climate Change Strategic Plan 2014–2023 (2013) lists an aim to promote public participation in climate change response. Strategic Objective 6 is to “Promote adaptive social protection and participatory approaches in reducing loss and damage due to climate change,” (p. 17). That Objective proposes promotion of participatory approaches to climate change response with “public engagement, participation, and consultations as primary entry points for adaptation planning, promoting the involvement of multiple stakeholders including NGOs, community-based organizations, youths, Indigenous communities, and the private sector” (p. 17).
The Strategic Program for Climate Resilience (2011–2023) aims to increase involvement of women, vulnerable groups, civil society organizations, and the private sector in decisions that affect climate resilience at local, provincial, and national levels.
The Ministry of Environment and the National Council for Sustainable Development collaborated on the National Environmental Strategy and Action Plan (2017), which was followed by extensive review at national, regional, and community levels. Multiple consultative meetings gathered input from diverse stakeholders so that the “document reflects the real situation of the environment and natural resources sectors responds to the actual needs of the society, is comprehensive, is acceptable and applicable when it is approved and officially launched” (p. V).
The National Adaptation Programme of Action to Climate Change (2006) was developed from stakeholder consultations and interviews, from the grassroots level to policy makers. Rural communities were also surveyed.
Stakeholder engagement in the development of climate change-related plans is reflected in the Updated Nationally Determined Contributions (2020). The engagement process involved contributions from many development partner experts and stakeholders from different sectors, local communities, and Indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples and local communities engaged in the Contributions update process through a private sector event.
i. Country monitoring
Monitoring and evaluation frameworks for education have a strong foundation in Cambodia. The Cambodia National Adaptation Plan Process (2017) reports that the Government of Cambodia has an aim to “integrate the national M&E (Monitoring and Evaluation) system for climate change responses into this framework” (p. 16). The Department of Climate Change within the National Council for Sustainable Development intends to strengthen the capacity for monitoring and evaluation frameworks. The Department will establish a monitoring and evaluation team and provide support to sectors for developing sectoral monitoring and evaluation frameworks, to strengthen the capacity of such frameworks. However, climate change communication and education are not explicitly addressed. The report produced by the National Council, Understanding Public Perceptions of Climate Change in Cambodia: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (2020) notes that the public’s awareness on climate change is growing.
The Cambodia Sustainable Development Goals Framework 2016–2030 (2018) summarizes Cambodia’s goals and targets and sets indicators for developing a resilient economy. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13.3 is to raise climate change awareness and institutional capacity. Cambodia’s Framework provides a responsible ministry, the National Council for Sustainable Development, and indicators and timeframes for implementation. For instance, an indicator for SD G 13.3 is preparing climate change response by measuring the percentage of institutional capacities that mainstream components of climate change. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is responsible for monitoring activities relating to participating in workshops and training on climate change. Cambodia’s Framework does not reference SDG 4.7 on access to education for sustainable development and learning and skills.
The National Strategic Development Plan 2019–2023 (2019) presents the priorities of government ministries and the monitoring and evaluation framework. However, the Plan does not directly discuss climate change communication and education except for environmental education.
Cambodia took part in the Programme for International Student Assessment-D (PISA-D) in 2016, a “one-off pilot project that aims to make the assessment more accessible and relevant to a wider range of countries” (p. 1). Assessments were done widely for Grade 10 students. Cambodia did not take part in the 2018 Global Competence but will participate in PISA 2021. However, information on whether the PISA will assess climate change education is not available at the time of this review.
The Voluntary National Review for Cambodia (2019) reports that the National Council for Sustainable Development coordinates the implementation of Cambodia’s SDG 13 (climate action). The Review notes that this SDG has progressed by having a Climate Change Technical Working Group assigned that includes all concerned ministries, agencies, and provincial bodies.
The Department of Climate Change inside the National Council for Sustainable Development launched the online Updated Nationally Determined Contributions Monitoring System for Implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This Monitoring System is an integral part of the transparency framework under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and is key to reporting. The System features a public summary page of updated Nationally Determined Contributions reports and a management system for reporting on the progress of activities and commitments by relevant ministries and institutions, to be updated annually.
ii. MECCE Project Monitoring
The Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project examined Cambodia’s National Curriculum Framework (2015) and Education Strategic Plan 2019–2023 (2019) for keywords related to ‘climate change,’ ‘environment,’ ‘sustainability,’ and ‘biodiversity.’
Neither document uses the terms ‘climate change’, or ‘biodiversity.’
This section will be updated as the MECCE Project develops.
This profile was reviewed by Phon Sophat and SEM Savuth (Knowledge Management Officer, Cambodia Climate Change Alliance - Phase 3).