Remarks by Ms. Veena Reddy, Mission Director, USAID/Cambodia, Launch of Legal Network

Friday, August 9, 2019
Remarks by Ms. Veena Reddy, Mission Director, USAID/Cambodia, Launch of Legal Network

(as prepared for delivery)

  • Your Excellency, Sao Sopheap
  • Mr. Nick Beresford, United Nations Development Programme
  • Distinguished ladies and gentlemen

Choom Reap Sue. It is my pleasure and honor to be here with you today. I am happy to see so many people here today who share the same interest in protecting Cambodia’s environment and natural resources for future generations. It is vitally important to have a common understanding of how to uphold Cambodia’s environmental laws, especially as new laws and regulations are passed, and cases that set legal precedents move into the courts. I hope today will be the first of many opportunities to share knowledge and expertise and learn from each other about the practice of environmental law.

I would like to thank UNDP for their support to establish and launch this legal network. I would also like to thank the Royal Academy for Judicial Professions, Asian Judges Network on Environment, and the Bar Association of Cambodia for their support. My thanks, too, for the efforts of the volunteers who helped bring together this network and develop the website and tools that allow legal professionals to access resources on Cambodian environmental law.

Cambodia’s economic security depends upon the sustainable management of natural resources and preserving a heathy environment. This is vital to the country’s continued economic growth. For the past three years, USAID and UNDP supported legal reforms to protect Cambodia’s environment, including amendments to the Protected Area law and the Forestry law. We also helped with the draft of the Environmental and Natural Resource Management Code of Cambodia. These amendments to the laws and the future enactment of the Environment Code establish a solid legal framework for the protection of natural resources.

Leading experts across many U.S. government agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service have all provided significant technical assistance to draft the Environment Code for Cambodia. However, establishing that legal framework is only one aspect of environmental protection and advancing Cambodia’s sustainable development. To make the Environment Code work, a large number of regulations need to be drafted. This requires expertise in environmental protection and environmental law. Experts from the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are providing training to 30 Ministry and NCSD staff on environmental laws and regulations. This training will help participants interpret the laws and draft clear regulations to protect natural resources.

To complement these efforts, we are excited to support the establishment of the first professional network for environmental legal experts in Cambodia. This is a specialized group of legal experts brought together by the shared desire to protect Cambodia’s environment. This network will also be a center for research and dissemination of information on Cambodian environmental law and regulations. We welcome the active engagement of practicing lawyers, student lawyers, student-notaries, and law professors. This environmental legal network is also supported by the Royal Academy for Judicial Professions, the Asian Judges Network on Environment, and the Bar Association of Cambodia.

It is important for legal practitioners, judges, lawyers, and lawmakers to have a common understanding and interpretation of environmental protection laws and regulations. This is why it is encouraging to see you all here today. Together you can help establish this network of legal professionals with a common understanding by sharing your knowledge and experience. To this end, we are also supporting the development of a legislative search tool which we hope will become an important instrument for those practicing environmental law in Cambodia. All of these activities will strengthen the implementation and the fair, transparent enforcement of environmental laws and regulations.

This environmental legal network would not have been established if not for the young volunteers who have dedicated their time and energy to forming and maintaining the network. Their dedication and passion for protecting Cambodia’s environment and natural resources is admirable. I would also like to thank all of the active members of this network for supporting this initiative. This is a step towards fair and transparent enforcement of Cambodia’s environmental protection laws and Cambodia’s sustainable economic development.

Thank you.

Issuing Country 

Last updated: December 02, 2019

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