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Vietnam and Cambodia: Leveraging Support to Enhance Climate Ambition

Say Samal, Minister of Environment, Cambodia
Trần Hồng Hà, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam

WASHINGTON DC, Nov 19 2020 (IPS) - The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every facet of our lives and delayed what was slated to be a landmark Conference of the Parties (COP26). This pivotal year marks the first due date for countries to submit revised national climate plans per the five-year cycle required by the Paris Agreement. Remarkably, countries are still moving forward with renewed urgency. And many countries are integrating green recovery into their COVID-19 responses, further contributing to climate action. While many countries have positive stories to tell, both of our nations, Vietnam and Cambodia, are sterling examples of nations taking strong, decisive action, particularly with support through the NDC Partnership. Just last month, the people of Vietnam submitted their updated national climate plan and, in short order, the people of Cambodia will do likewise.

Our success is a testament to our deep national commitment to climate action, which has been bolstered by support through the NDC Partnership and its Climate Action Enhancement Package (CAEP). CAEP is an enabling initiative that has helped to quickly match our climate ambitions to much needed support, at an especially difficult time for all countries and the global climate agenda. CAEP builds on and complements support from other development partners by delivering targeted, fast-track support to our countries, which enables us to enhance the quality, increase the ambition, and more effectively implement our nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Much like the current pandemic, CAEP’s strength is underpinned by its collaborative spirit and the need for multilateral cooperation. Through the technical and financial support of 46 partners, CAEP is currently supporting both our nations—and 61 others—to enhance NDCs in the lead up to COP26.

While this support came at a critical time, we’re mindful of the need for even greater support to effectively act on our robust climate commitments. Both our nations, like many others, live with climate impacts on a daily basis. The real and projected impacts on our populations and economies underpins the urgency with which we have acted and continue to act.


Vietnam’s potential climate hazards are expected to increase significantly under the impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise and saltwater intrusion. In fact, the Mekong Delta is one of the most vulnerable to sea level rise among the world’s deltas. In addition, agriculture, natural ecosystems, biodiversity, water resources, public health, and infrastructure are all at-risk sectors. The most vulnerable groups of people are the poor, ethnic minorities, the elderly, women, children, and people with disabilities. All these factors make addressing climate change a priority of critical national importance.

To meet our current and future challenges, Vietnam’s updated NDC identifies economy-wide mitigation measures for the period 2021-2030, spanning the energy, agriculture, waste, land use, land use change and forestry, and industrial sectors. The plan is distinct because it tackles greenhouse gas emissions by optimizing industrial processes and increasing our unconditional emission reduction target to nine percent below by 2030, combined with a change in baseline, this results in a 34 percent drop in emissions compared to our previous target. Moreover, Vietnam’s conditional emissions reduction target is now 27 percent (250.8 million tCO2e)—52.6 million tons of CO2e more than the emissions target in our first NDC submitted in 2015.

Vietnam’s updated NDC also includes robust adaptation components, directly linking to the National Adaptation Plan, and issues such as loss and damage, health, gender equality, and child protection. Alongside these strengthened mitigation and adaptation components, the updated NDC features new elements and significantly improves the means of implementation. As a people deeply committed to climate action, Vietnam is working to mainstream its national climate plan with socioeconomic development plans and strategies and draws overarching and discrete linkages with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Our climate achievements to-date were also strengthened by longstanding partners such as the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), primarily on mitigation and adaptation, respectively. Although the updated NDC takes effect next year, it is already informing our actions. By leveraging support through the NDC Partnership’s CAEP, delivered by the World Bank, the World Resources Institute (WRI), and the SNV Dutch Development Organisation, Vietnam is translating its NDC at provincial levels by mainstreaming targets in socioeconomic development plans. As part of these efforts, SNV is developing model approaches and a gender-sensitive framework for mainstreaming NDC targets and actions in these provincial plans.

This broad support is welcomed, and we’re banking on the support of all our government agencies, the private sector, and Vietnamese across communities to deliver on our commitments. This includes our 2021 target for incorporating the long-term, low greenhouse gas (GHG) emission requirements encouraged under Article 4 of the Paris Agreement.


Like Vietnam, its neighbor to the east, Cambodia is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Our most affected sectors are agriculture, infrastructure, forestry, human health, and coastal zones. Rising temperatures are leading to increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events in an already fragile socioeconomic context.

While registering only a very small fraction of global GHG emissions, Cambodia’s emissions have been trending upwards in tandem with its development progress. At the same time, the impacts of climate change are expected to reduce Cambodia’s average GDP growth by 2.5 percent in 2030 and by 9.8% in 2050.

Cambodia is responding to this challenge. We have committed to lowering emissions and our updated NDC will reflect improved mitigation targets and adaptation actions. Our commitments will focus on a wide array of sectors, including agriculture, forestry and other land uses, transport and health, among others. Cross-cutting issues such as gender, youth engagement, and private sector involvement will be hallmarks of our strategy. Finally, an analysis on how the NDC can impact SDG achievement is also being undertaken.

CAEP support delivered through the Partnership by UNDP and the World Bank has ensured that Cambodia’s NDC update is robust and consistent with prevailing commitments. Our climate plan is now informed by progress made on current NDC targets, and reflect commitments made in national and sectoral strategies adopted since the approval of our initial NDC in 2015. We will also conduct additional analyses, including with the latest emissions data, and prepare cost estimates for proposed sectoral NDC targets and actions.

This truly Cambodian approach will also strengthen technical capacity for the Ministry of Environment, the National Council for Sustainable Development and other relevant ministries. This will provide critical support throughout the NDC updating process and help improve ministries’ understanding of how climate change can be better integrated into their work over the longer term.

The Cambodian people and government are proud to own this process, which helps secure our development goals. We will strengthen measurement, reporting, and verification arrangements to improve monitoring and reporting on NDC implementation, including by establishing an online portal. The online NDC tracking system spotlights information on mitigation, adaptation, GHG inventory, support received and needed, as well as baselines, targets, and indicators received from ministries. A similar online NDC portal is being set up by our neighbors, Vietnam.

As a unique country-driven initiative, the NDC Partnership’s work empowers countries like ours to meet our climate ambitions, which drives forward collective action. CAEP is one of our strongest sources of support to achieve our climate and development goals, and as we are seeing in both Vietnam and Cambodia, the program is producing strong impacts in helping our societies enhance climate ambition, going further than would otherwise be possible.


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