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UK and Cambodia sign Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation on the Biodiverse Landscape Fund

On 15th June 2023, Mr. Marc Thayre, Chargé d’Affaires of the British Embassy Phnom Penh and His Excellency Chea Samang, Secretary of State of Ministry of Environment signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), formalizing cooperation on the UK's Biodiverse Landscapes Fund (BLF) in Cambodia.

The new fund aims to take ambitious action to tackle the triple crises of poverty, biodiversity loss and climate change at a local and cross border scale. The BLF is a programme developed by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra), which supports work on poverty reduction, biodiversity protection; and addressing the drivers and impacts of climate change across six biologically diverse landscapes worldwide. It will also support governments in meeting international commitments under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Lower Mekong landscape is an area of global importance due to its unique biodiversity. It includes the Annamites mountain range, spanning Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam. It is part of the Greater Mekong Subregion, which is one of the world’s top ten biodiversity hotspots and top five threatened areas . This landscape has therefore been selected on the basis of its global importance for biodiversity, potential to act as a carbon sink, and the economic and livelihood needs of the resident populations.

The BLF will invest up to £15 million between 2023 and 2029 in the Lower Mekong landscape, covering areas of Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam. The BLF programme in the Lower Mekong aims to reduce poverty and create sustainable economic opportunities for communities living in and dependent on environmentally critical landscapes, through delivering lasting landscape protection, sustainable management and restoration, safeguarding biodiversity and maintaining and improving ecosystem quality.

Marc Thayre, Chargé d’ Affaires of the British Embassy Phnom Penh said: “The impacts of climate change do not respect borders, and strong partnerships are essential to protecting the environment. I’m delighted therefore to agree this collaboration between the UK and Cambodia.

As we look forward to strengthening our partnership with Cambodia, the Biodiverse Landscapes Fund will be an important mechanism in supporting local communities to strengthen biodiversity conservation, reduce poverty and build resilience to climate change. This work will complement our existing Darwin Initiative and IWT Challenge Funds."

His Excellency Chea Samang, Secretary of State, Ministry of Environment said: ‘’ Improved livelihood of the local community is one of the top priorities of the Royal Government of Cambodia while sustaining biodiversity and natural resources for the generations to come in cooperation with the relevant partners. In this regard, the Ministry of Environment is pleased to have formal partnership with UK through DEFRA in implementation of BLF in Cambodia.

I am optimistic that BLF will support effective and sustainable management of biodiversity hotspots and enhanced community living conditions in the target areas through protected area land registration and zoning as well as green finance, capacity building and education.”

The Biodiverse Landscapes Fund will start implementation later this year, delivering activities through a consortium of delivery partners, and working in close collaboration with the Royal Government of Cambodia.

The Fund is classified as Official Development Assistance (ODA) and is part of United Kingdom’s commitment to international development.

Today’s announcement builds on a wider UK ambition to explore new ways of deepening partnerships in the region. Collaboration on protecting the environment is just one way the UK is demonstrating that it is committed to being a reliable long- term partner in the Indo-Pacific, as set out by in the recent Integrated Review Refresh

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