Cambodia to climb climate change readiness ladder

Although many attempts are being made to track impacts of different climate change actions at a project level, mapping these effects at the national level will be much more complex. Cambodia is one of several countries that are developing monitoring and evaluation frameworks that can track multiple layers of information at the national, sub-national and sectoral levels.
03 April 2014
Cambodia's farmers face an uncertain future as the climate changes (Photo: Lorena Pajares via Creative Commons

Cambodia's farmers face an uncertain future as the climate changes (Photo: Lorena Pajares via Creative Commons)

Cambodia is one of the least developed countries, and is among the most vulnerable to climate change, particularly to floods, droughts and tropical storms. Most Cambodians depend on agriculture but lack the infrastructure and information they need to cope with extreme events.

To overcome these challenges, the government is investing in ways to adapt diverse sectors to the changing climate. In recent years it has mobilised US$200 million with support from development partners and multilateral banks to improve roads and irrigation, and build flood resilient infrastructure.

But like all countries, Cambodia needs to know which investments perform best. It needs to know what the investments have achieved before making decisions to scale up projects and secure long term financing. Donors and banks also want to know the effects of their large investments.

Understanding what works best goes beyond looking at the efficiency of projects. Cambodia needs to assess how affective adaptation actions are in reducing vulnerability AND improving development overall impacts.

It is therefore crucial that Cambodia tracks and monitors its climate change responses to ensure efforts are effective in the long term, as proposed in the Climate Change Strategic Plan it launched in November 2013.

Adaptation AND development

To do this, the Climate Change Department of the Ministry of Environment is developing a national monitoring and evaluation framework, with support from the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance, which is financed by Sweden, Denmark, the European Union and UNDP.

To ensure that adaptation and development work hand in hand it has partnered with IIED to use the Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development (TAMD) approach. This will allow Cambodia to assess, on one hand, the extent to which climate risk management is integrated into national and sub-national development plans, processes, actions and institutions. On the other hand, it will assess development impacts of adaptation actions. But how will this work in practice?

At the heart of this approach are five cross-cutting indicators that will enable Cambodia to understand the institutional readiness of the country. At a national workshop held in December 2013 to test and finalise the indicators, Ministry of Environment staff and partners developed scorecards of baseline data to understand the current status of climate risk management and set the direction of future actions. These scorecards use an innovative 'readiness ladder' approach to show how progress towards milestones in policy and institutional development.

To measure the development impacts of adaptation actions, both nationally and in key sectors, Cambodia will track — and hope to see a reduction in:

  • Vulnerability
  • Loss and damage
  • Mortality from climate change
  • Greenhouse gas emissions.

As the country progresses towards its strategic vision, its efforts to monitor and evaluate adaptation and development will better inform future investments. By taking these steps Cambodia is pioneering an approach that can serve as an important example to many other developing countries as they develop national system for monitoring and evaluating climate change actions.

Ma Chansethea is Deputy Director of Climate Change Department, Ministry of Environment, Cambodia. Neth Baroda is a staff of Climate Change Department, Ministry of Environment. Neha Rai is a researcher in IIED's Climate Change Group ( and Emanuele Cuccillato is a consultant with Cambodia Climate Change Alliance (CCCA).