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Cambodia is one of the top ten countries most vulnerable to climate change. Despite a bid by the national government to enhance the country’s capacities to implement effective adaptation measures, there is still a need to improve these capacities at the sub-national level. To help advance climate adaptation in Cambodia’s secondary cities, CDIA recently completed a study on Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment (CVAA), wherein it recommended a capacity development roadmap to reinforce its proposed adaptation options for Battambang, Kampot, Kratie and Chhlong.
The CVAA, in partnership with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT) and with support from Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the European Union assessed the climate vulnerability of the four cities and identified corresponding adaptation measures that will be further examined in AFD’s Feasibility Study for the “Sustainable Cities Programme: Resilient Intermediate Cities in Cambodia”. The accompanying capacity development roadmap identified short-, medium-, and long-term activities to help strengthen the institutional and human resource capacities to ensure the sustainability of the ensuing investments.
Review of Institutional Challenges and Assessment of Training Needs
After stakeholder consultations, meetings and field missions, CDIA was able to comprehensively review the institutional gaps and challenges that limit effective climate change adaptation at the sub-national level.
It found out that many of the challenges stem from the fact that climate change policies are mainly developed by the central government, and other stakeholders, including communities are insufficiently involved or excluded. This, along with lack of technical capacity and adequate financing and the absence of functional implementation structures hamper climate change adaptation efforts at the local level.
In parallel, CDIA conducted a training needs assessment (TNA) that examined the capacity of staff of relevant agencies planning, implementing and managing adaptation strategies and actions in the four cities.
Based on answers from 44 survey respondents, CDIA found a substantial demand for capacity development on disaster risk management, climate change adaptation and urban planning at both the city and provincial levels. While there is sufficient staff involved in climate change adaptation initiatives, they may not be adequately skilled for the tasks they are responsible for.
Overall, these capacity gaps in these four cities call for a more systematic and holistic approach to capacity development.
“It is apparent that the challenges with climate change adaptation in relation with urban planning in provincial towns in Cambodia cannot be solved with ‘technical fixes’ such as infrastructure investments combined with intensive training packages only, but need much broader institutional changes related to autonomy, clarity on responsibilities of provincial entities and financial management, transparency and 100% cost recovery for operation and maintenance of the climate change adaptation investments,” the CVAA Final Report states.
Roadmap for Institutional Development on Climate Change Adaptation
CDIA considered the findings of these assessments and proposed a capacity development roadmap that seeks to develop the institutional and human resource capacities of these four cities so they can adequately implement climate adaptation measures. The roadmap is segmented into short-, medium- and long-term activities, which have been discussed and agreed with the MPWT for further coordination and implementation with other relevant agencies up to 2024.
Suggested short-term activities include: (i) contribution and alignment with annual sub-national capacity development and training programs; (ii) support for provision of oversight of capacity development activities related to climate change; (iii) emergency training on flood impact mitigation and public awareness campaigning; (iv) alignment with donors on urban development in Cambodia; (v) increased capacity development (on the job training); and (vi) development of a detailed medium-term capacity development program on climate change and urban planning.
Suggested medium-term activities include: capacity development related to climate change, such as vulnerability assessment, data management, disaster risk management, urban drainage and flood management; (ii) adaptation solutions suitable for Cambodia; (iii) community engagement, gender equity and public awareness; (iv) sustainable urban planning through action area planning, heritage conservation, sustainable tourism and social development of vulnerable communities; (v) general capacity development on decentralized urban management, administration management, good governance; and (vi) English language and IT capabilities.
Suggested medium-/long-term activities include: (i) capacity building to ensure sufficient qualified staff and other required resources are available; (ii) establishment of an enabling environment for NGOs and private support sector to support coordination and information sharing in urban planning and climate change adaptation; and (iii) developing a coordinated approach to planning development efforts, including climate change adaptation, and with stricter controls to secure sustainable urban development adopted by the Government.
The Way Forward
MPWT and its partners will hold more discussions to align the proposed roadmap to the capacity development programs of the national government. Also, as part of the CVAA, the roadmap will be taken forward for further consideration in MPWT and AFD’s Feasibility Study.
While the roadmap has provided MPWT and its partners a reference point for building capacities in the four secondary cities, CDIA emphasized in the CVAA report the importance of having the right mindset for capacity development in order to yield positive results.
“It will be critically important to ensure that the involved ministries, the provincial government and municipalities targeted for capacity development must themselves welcome improved capacity and be prepared to change,” the CVAA Final Report states.