Context and challenges
Twenty-five years after the end of the civil war, Cambodia has undergone a profound social and economic transformation. In the last 20 years the economy has been among the fastest growing in the world, with an average growth rate of 8%. The momentum has resulted into a significant decrease of income poverty which fell from 48% in 2007 to 12.9% in 2018.
However, the country still faces many development challenges. Cambodia is at the bottom of the Human Development Index (HDI) in the East Asia Pacific, ranking 146th out of 189th worldwide. The above economic transformation of the country has also caused a strong pressure on resources, resulting in a dramatic depletion of the country’s natural capital. Cambodia has experienced one of the highest worldwide deforestation rates. From 2006 to 2014 the average annual deforestation was close to 3 percent annually and between 2010 and 2014 close to 5 percent annually.
While conversion of forests to agriculture or rubber plantations is a main driver, unsustainable and illegal fuelwood sourcing greatly contributes to deforestation and forest degradation. As of today, biomass (mainly charcoal and firewood) amounts to more than 60% in Cambodia’s primary energy mix.
Geres in Cambodia
Present in Cambodia since 1994, Geres started its work focusing on the dissemination of improved cookstoves. As the first NGO world-wide able to enter to the carbon finance market with a stove project, by 2014 Geres had distributed more than 3 million improved stoves in the country.
Geres continues to work on key challenges related to sustainable biomass energy sector. Geres has conducted studies and pilot experiments to deepen knowledge and develop evidence-based interventions in Cambodia. The strategy evolved from a focus on domestic cooking and technical solutions to include reinforcement of rural communities’ resilience, support to forest communities to manage wood-fuel sources and engagement with industrial biomass users.
Today the goal of Geres in Cambodia is to contribute to the development of a sustainable, legal and traceable wood-fuels value chain and promote cleaner production processes.
As the Khmer industrial sector’s biomass energy demand grows, along with its carbon footprint, a special attention is given to support a low carbon development by industries in Cambodia.
Our work focuses on the following:
- Climate resilient communities through capacity development to sub-national institutions to mainstream climate-energy approach into local planning
- Legal and sustainable biomass sourcing and production, working with community forests, community protected areas, charcoal producers and local authorities to ensure that wood-fuel is harvested from authorized community-managed areas and quality charcoal is produced with modern techniques that reduce the use of firewood
- Innovative charcoal business models that allow local actors along the supply chain to diversify their livelihoods and maximize their incomes. In this regard, “Kjuongo” as a digital platform that ensures charcoal traceable supply, efficient management and distribution is Geres’ flagship model.
- Improved cooking practices, including by reinforcing the institutional, technical and business capacities of stove producers
- Sustainable energy practices, with a focus on the garment industry where Geres provides advisory services, promotes appropriate technologies and sustainable energy sources. Geres has a particular focus on tackling the barriers towards a switch to sustainable biomass energy supply for thermal energy generation.
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