Climate change becomes strategic challenge

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Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Tuesday that climate change has now become a strategic challenge to development that requires urgent and joint attention.

"Climate change is no longer a remote case, but is affecting all of us in the present and become one of the grave challenges that must be addressed in the 21st century," the premier said at the opening of the 3rd National Forum on Climate Change.

"This requires us to urgently create an appropriate climate policy that responds to local, regional and global levels."

He said the management of environment and climate change was a new challenge to sustainable economic growth and social development, especially the skyrocketing greenhouse gas emissions caused by the population growth, urbanization, agricultural extension and intensification, as well as development of transport, power and other sectors.

The premier said the Asia Pacific region has experienced more frequent and severe flooding, drought and disasters relating to climate change, especially during the last decade.

"Moreover, Asia will be more vulnerable to flooding, and by 2025, more than 410 million people that account for 85 percent of the global economy will be vulnerable to flooding disasters along coastal area caused by cyclone and in lowland area caused by typhoon," Hun Sen said.

"Recent flooding in Cambodia which claimed many human lives, destroyed farmer crops and infrastructure, and hindered daily life of the people add new evidence to show the severity of climate change and it is now a matter of great urgency," he said.

Cambodia has just got out of Mekong River flash floods that had hit the country since August, killing 168 people and affecting more than 1.8 million people, Nhim Vanda, 1st vice-president of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said.

The destruction caused by the flooding was estimated to top one billion U.S. dollars due to damages to rice paddies and roads, he said.

Environment Minister Say Sam Al said the 3rd National Forum on Climate Change was attended by environmentalists, policy makers, scientists, development partners and other actors in order to circulate latest findings to help counter climate change.

"The 3-day forum will enable us to review our progress since the 2nd Forum in 2011 and contribute our views to identify priorities for fighting climate change in the next 5 to 10 years," he said.

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