Colloque technique franco-cambodgien sur le thème de la ville durable (24/02/2017)
Excellency Mr. SAY Samal, Minister of Environment,
Excellency Mr. TRAC Thai Sieng, Vice-Governor of Phnom Penh,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mesdames et Messieurs,
It is my pleasure to welcome you at the French residence for this seminar on « Sustainable Cities » and I would like at the outset to thank their Excellencies the Minister of Environment and the vice-governor of Phnom Penh to grace us with their presence despite a heavy schedule.
As you can see, we meet here in a green, lush, quiet environment. But for anyone living in Phnom Penh or visiting the country, the relevance of today’s topic is more than obvious.
20 years of steady economic growth have indeed transformed Cambodia. Changes are very visible in the urban centers and especially here in Phnom Penh. With an urban population set to double by 2030, today’s challenges like pollution or traffic congestion will grow even bigger and we can already see the new needs for infrastructures and urban services in all sectors : housing, energy, public transport, water and waste treatment, among others. It is thus necessary to look at the best possible ways to counter the negative impacts of rapid urbanization and to think more broadly to the future in terms of quality of life in sustainable cities. We have noted with great interest Cambodia’s commitments in its INDC, submitted ahead of the Paris conference on climate change in December 2015 and we stand ready to assist the Kingdom to achieve its ambitions targets.
Actually, France and Cambodia already have a long-standing partnership in this area. As HE TRAC Thai Sieng is well aware, the cities of Paris and Phnom Penh have been cooperating for more than 25 years. Among the most visible results of our cooperation is the rehabilitation of the beautiful building of the central market and the improvement of production and distribution of clean water in Phnom Penh whose state-of-the-art water treatment infrastructures are quite unique in the region. We hope that this success story can be replicated in Siem Reap and other cities around the country.
At this stage, I would like to mention the important role played by the French Agency for Development (AFD) which has funded some of these milestone projects. In the years to come, considering the mandate given to the Agency by the French authorities, its actions in relation with the environment and climate change can only increase even further.
I am glad to see a good turnout for this seminar. Ever since I took up my position as French Ambassador two and a half years ago, I have noted a growing interest from our business community in anything relating to urban development. A number of French companies are already involved in developing sustainable solutions for cities in Cambodia and today’s seminar will be an excellent opportunity to discuss and exchange further on future opportunities. Today, by gathering both public and private decision-makers in sectors pertaining to sustainable cities, our hope is to broaden our cooperation to new areas including public transport, renewable energy, waste treatment, environmental protection and quality building among others.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Let me conclude by saying that this seminar takes place in the context of growing economic relations between our two countries. Our bilateral trade has reached one billion US dollars in 2016 and France has confirmed its position as the number one European investor in Cambodia. I extend a special welcome to a newcomer like BRED banking group due to open a branch here next week with a focus on financing small and medium size enterprises. This is yet another evidence of our commitment to contribute to Cambodia’s development.
Our leaders have consistently stated their strong will to further develop our economic relations, which, despite a rapid growth, are still below their potential. This was mentioned on several recent high level meetings, for instance when HE Mr. PRAK Sokhonn, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, met with his French counterpart in Paris last November and again two days ago when HE Mr. PAN Sorasak, Minister for Commerce, was received at the French Ministry of Foreign affairs for a working luncheon.
I thank all speakers who have agreed to share their experience with you today and I wish you a very fruitful seminar.