Environment

The Environment team concluded several major projects this year. With a focus on inclusive and adaptive governance, the three-year program on Water Governance and Climate Change in Cambodia conducted water security and vulnerability assessments in three Tonle Sap catchments. Key outcomes are academic training to develop technical and institutional capabilities, capacity building to improve local knowledge, and expansion of social networks to spread best adaptation practices. The Unit also released a book detailing the scientific findings of a series of mini-studies.

Titled Climate Change and Water Governance in Cambodia, the book provides reliable predictions about the potential impacts of climate change on water resources in Chinit, Chrey Bak and Pursat catchments, and, using a social-ecological systems approach, analyses adaptive governance and capacity to manage resilience. Outreach activities entailed national and regional dissemination workshops, while two study tours, one to Koh Kong and the other to Kratie, allowed subnational and local stakeholders in climate change initiatives to experience at first-hand the potential of adaptation measures.

Another landmark project is China Goes Global: A Comparative Study of Chinese Hydropower Dams in Africa and Asia. A first of its kind analysis, the study contributes significantly to a mutual understanding of the social, economic, environmental and political impacts of Chinese hydropower projects in recipient countries. The findings were well received at an international dissemination workshop in London attended by country research teams and Chinese dam developers. Two articles have been published in international journals and two more submitted for comment.

The team implemented two subprojects under the Sida-funded program Climate Change, Adaptation and Livelihoods for Inclusive Growth. Outputs include a working paper on Agricultural Technological Practices and Gaps for Climate Change Adaptation, which reviews the most common practices for the system of rice intensification, now gaining popularity under the banner of climate- smart farming. This study determines the factors influencing adoption of sustainable farm practices and stresses the importance of providing early and continuous technical and financial supports to close the gap between potential adaptations and actions; otherwise, farmers tend to adopt only a few practices that provide immediate and visible benefits. The second subproject focuses on how community-based natural resource management can make a substantial and cost-effective contribution to improved climate change adaptation, livelihood resilience and food security.

Two smaller though critical commissioned works involved a review of Community-based Disaster Management Planning in Rural Cambodia for the Japanese Institute on Irrigation and Drainage, and a follow-up study on Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices in relation to Climate Change in Cambodia for the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance. The first generated clear evidence of the need for ongoing support to sustain local institutional capacities and budgets for risk reduction, emergency preparedness and response. The results of the second show that despite improvements in awareness of climate change terms and understanding of its causes and effects, few people can take direct action to prepare themselves and develop community-level resilience. This calls for greater policy attention to agronomically meaningful and applicable adaptation options so that individuals and communities can better anticipate and respond to localised effects of climate change.

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