Phnom Penh, Cambodia -ADB and the Royal government of Cambodia are strengthening their partnership in the effort to conserve the resources of Tonle Sap Great Lake while pursuing pro-poor development initiatives in the area, officials said after a recent forum.
“The forum helped build a stronger sense of ownership of the Initiative among a wide cross section of people involved in this important effort,” said Arjun Goswami, ADB Country director for Cambodia. “This is a vital step in the effort to restore the environment and improve the livelihood of communities in the Tonle Sap Great Lake.”
The Tonle Sap, located north of Cambodia’s capital, is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. The ecosystem around the lake is a direct and irreplaceable source of livelihood for more than 1 million people, and an area of environmental biodiversity of global significance.
The forum on the Tonle Sap Initiative, which ended on 6 March, brought together more than 200 people from ADB, the Royal government of Cambodia, other development partners, and members of communities living on and around the lake. vice President C. Lawrence Greenwood led ADB’s delegation.
Forum participants examined the challenges ahead to achieve equitable development of the Tonle Sap basin, and discussed the policies and legal framework that will be needed.
“There is a risk that some of the poor and marginalised could be increasingly left behind,” said Urooj Malik, director of the Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Division of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department. “It is vital to involve them more in the process of formulating policies designed to improve their conditions.”
A major need identified at the forum was for increased coordination of government policies, laws and regulations related to the Tonle Sap Basin, including harmonisation of those concerning natural resources management, zonation of land and water use, and infrastructure development, such as roads, water and sanitation, and irrigation.