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CCAFS scenarios process informs Cambodia's climate action plans

Scenario-guided planning was used in the development of Cambodia's Climate Change Priorities Action Plan that strengthens farmers' agricultural resilience.

In Cambodia, agriculture plays an important role in employment, national development goals and the drive to reduce poverty. Around 56% of the labour force are engaged in agriculture.

According to the World Bank, farm wages have doubled over the last decade, and the success of Cambodian agriculture has helped pull almost four million people out of poverty. However, while poverty has declined, the number of vulnerable people has increased. Cambodia is ranked among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries most vulnerable to climate change, and the country’s agricultural sector is highly sensitive to its impacts: most people who have escaped poverty still remain poor, and the loss of only USD 0.70 per day would double Cambodia’s poverty rate back to 40%.

In order to address this vulnerability, in 2014 the Cambodian government launched its 2014-2018 Climate Change Priorities Action Plan (CCPAP). This plan aimed to convert financial resources and key practices into focused climate action, with a strong emphasis on climate-smart agriculture. In 2017, findings from the 2014 CCAFS regional Southeast Asia scenarios process were translated to the national level in order to identify priorities for the CCPAP. The scenarios approach created “safe spaces” for decision-makers to think about different possible futures under climate change, and let them test the robustness of key policy questions. Priorities identified during this national level process were then integrated into the CCPAP, marking another successful CCAFS policy outcome in the region.

From national to subnational level

Since then, the CCAFS Southeast Asia Regional Coordinator Dr. Rathana Peou has secured three years of funding from the Ministry of Agriculture to move on to the sub-national level, using scaled down scenarios to work directly with farmers to develop climate-smart agriculture.

Dr. Peou has also focused on assessing whether climate-related policies contained within the CCPAP have been given a legal framework by the parliament. She has discovered that upon closer inspection, several policy outcomes have yet to be translated into the legal framework. As she explains, “when you discuss the reasons for this with members of parliament, they say they are extremely busy due to the large number of different national action plans. Although they feel that the CCPAP is important, it is competing with other plans.”

To address this, Dr. Peou and CCAFS Southeast Asia have been asked to assist the Parliamentary Institute of Cambodia to build capacity in effectively understanding and acting upon climate change-related issues, so that planning processes are well understood and can achieve their desired impacts, allowing for the sustainable development of Cambodia and a secure agricultural sector that is robust in the face of climate change. They have also been connecting members of the Cambodian parliament with institutions such as the European Union to let those working on the budget see how climate policies can be financed at the national level and over longer periods of time.

What’s next?

Foresight processes such as scenarios are being increasingly used by a wide variety of actors all over the world to engage with possible futures under climate change. However, we are yet to understand the full range of factors leading to the effectiveness of scenarios as policy interventions, particularly in countries like Cambodia that are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Do scenarios processes happen at the right time vis-a-vis policy and decision-making? If recommendations from scenarios processes are integrated into national policy, is this translated into a legal framework? If so, how successfully are the resulting laws implemented?

The Re-imagining anticipatory climate governance in the world's vulnerable regions (RE-IMAGINE) project will build on the CCAFS Future Scenarios project to address such questions and investigate ways in which foresight approaches can play a role in appropriate and effective modes of anticipatory climate governance in the world’s most vulnerable regions. Made possible by the BNP Paribas Foundation’s ‘Climate Action Call’, the project is led by Utrecht University’s Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development with Wageningen University & Research, the University of Oxford and the CCAFS Future Scenarios Project as project partners.

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