11 November 2020

Keynote Speech

At the 1st International Conference on Belt and Road Green Development

Beijing, 26 September 2020

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

1.                   I am pleased to be able to join this 1st International Conference on Belt and Road Green Development via video conference, amidst the terrible global disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I find the theme of promoting Green Cultural Exchange very appropriate as we reflect on ways to enhance our international cooperation under the Green “Belt and Road”, so that we can look forward for a promising post-pandemic socio-economic recovery. 

2.                   Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the organizers for their persistence to ensure that this important virtual meeting take place today, without which we would not have the platform to share our perspectives for future cooperation, at a times when the world is facing serious global health threat on top of the existing precarious state of environmental affairs.


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

3.                   The Belt and Road Initiative has come a long way since its soft launch in the autumn of 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping under its long name, the “Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road”. This multifaceted economic, diplomatic and geopolitical initiative has morphed through various iterations, from its long name to a shorter and shorter one, the “New Silk Road”, to the “One Belt, One Road”, and finally to the “Belt and Road Initiative” or shortly to the “BRI” as we all know so well today. President Xi’ signature foreign policy initiative has attracted considerable attention from the international community for its ambition to transpose the historical symbolism of the ancient Silk Road into the modern day sustainable development. The way I see it, today’s conference is reinforcing its Green development pillar of the BRI at its best.


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

4.                   Green development is not new in the BRI agenda and to contextualize it, I would like to refer it to what has been developing in the Mekong sub-region. We have to bear in mind that all 5 Mekong countries that comprise of my country Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, are an integral part of the ASEAN Community. For the last several years we have a vibrant Mekong-Lancang Cooperation, in which China has shown to be a strong supporter of ASEAN integration and the ASEAN Economic Community, through its “Connectivity” and “Production Capacity” linkages with the Mekong sub-region.

5.                   In that regards, just last month, during the Leaders’ Meeting of the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation, Premier Li Keqiang shared his vision on the future of the sub-region and supported four priority areas, namely: (1) connectivity through building the Mekong-Lancang Economic Development Belt and promoting synergy with the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor; (2) water resources cooperation; (3) sustainable development in agriculture and environment; and (4) public health by establishing Mekong-Lancang Public Health Community.

6.                   He praised the breakthrough in finding consensus in dealing with the most sensitive topic of transboundary water management with the successful convening of the 1st Ministerial Meeting of Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation last December in China. The Leaders have also expressed their commitment to speed up the realization of the Mekong-Lancang Economic Development Belt (MLEDB) as a new engine of growth for the Mekong-Lancang sub-region as well as to explore the possibility of developing a New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, which takes into account the national strategies, development visions and development plans of the respective Mekong-Lancang countries.


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

7.                   This leads me to the case of Cambodia. Allow me a short moment to give you a bit of background of my country.

8.                   Cambodia has made a remarkable achievement of sustaining a robust and inclusive economic growth of around 7.9% per annum over the last two decades. The rapid growth has substantially contributed to the acceleration of the living standard and the huge reduction of poverty from 53% in the 1990s to around 10% nowadays.

9.                   We have witnessed rapid urbanization with urban population now accounting for 21% of total population and the Government has set a long term vision to transform Cambodia into an Upper Middle-Income Country (UMIC) by 2030 and a High-Income Country (HIC) by 2050 by ways of transforming the country from a labor intensive to a skill-based economy.

10.                To realize this vision, the Government has implemented various policies and strategies to ensure a sustainable growth resilient to negative shocks, particularly in light of the country’s high vulnerability to climate change. Accordingly, much work has been undertaken to enhance the country’s institutional capability to analyze the specific effects of climate change, quantify its projected impact on socio-economic development, and to design strategies and policy options to minimize the negative impact on the national economy.


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

11.                Cambodia is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. As an agrarian country, Cambodia’s vulnerability to climate change is mainly due to its geography, high reliance on the agriculture sector, and its weak adaptive capacity, including limited financial, technical and human resources.

12.                The country’s most agricultural production system is dependent either on rainfall or on the annual flooding of the Tonle Sap Great Lake. The sector is therefore particularly sensitive to potential changes in local climate and monsoon regimes. The increasing occurrence and severity of floods exacerbated by climate change are resulting in high costs for the maintenance and upgrading of roads and irrigation infrastructure. This is particularly the case in urban areas where more and more assets and population are concentrated. These are only two examples I care to highlight, as my speaking time is running out.  

13.                Despite the many climate challenges, Cambodia, as an active contributor to the UNFCCC, has developed and implemented the Climate Change Strategic Plan 2014 – 2023 that illustrates not only the country’s priority adaptation needs, but also provides roadmaps for the de-carbonisation of key economic sectors and the enhancement of carbon sinks.

14.                Moreover, we have also developed a National Policy on Green Growth and a National Strategic Plan on Green Growth 2013-2030 to balance economic development with environment, society, culture, and sustainable use of national resources through integration, matching and adaption.

15.                In more concrete terms, our actions include the preparation of energy efficiency standards, the promotion of investment in renewable energy, like solar and hydropower, biodiversity management, and Green finance policy through the implementation of clean development mechanisms (CDMs).

16.                Under the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation, Cambodia has implemented a broad range of practical cooperation activities ranging from water resource management to carbon emission reduction (REDD+). 

17.                Going forward, adhering to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, the Government will continue to advance this sustainable development agenda and will work with all development partners, including through the Belt and Road Initiative, to fulfill its responsibility in promoting green development.


Thank you.