Human Development Report

Sustaining Natural Resources for All

Cambodia 2019

“People are the real wealth of a nation. The basic objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives.”

Executive Summary

As Cambodia continues its transition to a higher level of development, it faces a historic opportunity to manage its natural resources for the benefit of both people and the environment. Cambodia can mitigate mounting pressure on forests and other essential natural resources by diversifying patterns of access and use, while building the foundation for an economy that continues to be strong and fair, and, crucially, more sustainable.

Cambodia has made great strides over the last three decades, transitioning to peace, transforming livelihoods and realizing striking gains in socioeconomic development. Accompanying economic growth, however, there have been growing pressures on land, water and forest ecosystems. These pressures are beginning to challenge the long-term viability of Cambodia’s development model and its ability to achieve the objectives set out in Vision 2050 and the Cambodian Sustainable Development Goals. The goods and services as well as intangible benefits that accrue from Cambodia’s natural resource base are fundamental to the well-being of millions of people. Prospects for sustainable and inclusive development greatly depend on improved ecosystem management.  Read more

[object Object]

Park rangers patrolling the forest

Park rangers patrolling the forest

Human Development in Cambodia today

Cambodia has made major human development gains since the foundation of the modern Khmer nation in the early 1990s, after a long period of conflict. The economy has changed dramatically with sustained growth of over 7 percent per year and the emergence of higher value added industrial and service sectors. Social changes, including through urbanization, migration and evolving lifestyles, have accompanied and supported a shared prosperity. Read more

Sustainable Timber Production

Cambodia’s forests are extensive, yet under serious pressure. In 1975, forests stretched over 73 percent of the country, but by 2018, they had shrunk to 46.84 percent. As the forests disappear, so do essential resources that many people need for energy, food, medicine and livelihoods. Read more

Photo Credit: GERES

Photo Credit: GERES

Sustainable consumption and production of woodfuel

In Cambodia, wood-fuel such as fuelwood and charcoal play major roles in meeting energy needs, and generating income for many rural communities. Currently, around 80 percent of households still rely on wood-fuel as the main fuel for cooking. Read more

Upgrading value chains for non-timber forest products

Beyond timber and wood-fuel, Cambodia's forest provide a wealth of other resources including plants and wildlife. Properly managed and regulated harvesting and marketing of these non-timber products can deliver significant contributions both to forest and people in rural communities. Read more

Communities and natural resource management

Community-based natural resource management was originally developed to support the Government in proposing a new measure of collaborative management under an environment and natural resources code. Initial draft background papers were reviewed by the working group on collaborative management under the environmental code in 2016 and 2017. Read more

Payments for ecosystem services

Payments for ecosystem services was developed as a part of policy and research support for the Government in operationalizing conservation financing, based on two feasibility studies on Kulen Mountain in Siem Reap province and Kbal Chay in Sihanoukville. Key findings and recommended actions were presented and discussed in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville in March 2018. Read more

Spatial planning as a tool for integrated natural resource management

Spatial planning as a tool for natural resources management was developed to summarize experiences and analyses facilitated under the ecosystem mapping initiative led by the Department of Geographic Information Services of the Ministry of Environment The initial idea of ecosystem mapping was presented in October 2016; the final analyses of decision support systems were shared in August 2017. Read more

Voices from Communities

A local woman’s drive for “development that includes villagers”

Yerm Roeung, 32, remembers feeling reluctant in 2016 when her community elected her as deputy chief of a committee managing a community protected area in Popel Village, Khnong Phnom Commune. “If we can keep the forest, we can earn a lot from natural resources, such as non-timber forest products. More importantly, we can attract tourists when they visit our commune or village and earn money through that as well,” she says. 

“At first, I didn’t want to have a leadership position in the community, but I didn’t want to lose the remaining forest in my community. I wanted to preserve it for the next generation,” she says. Read more

[object Object]


Dr. Moeko Saito Jensen
Environmental Policy Specialist

Dr. Richard Colin Marshall
Country Economist

Mr. Samruol Im
Communications Analyst