September 30, 2023
Kampong Chhnang Province, Cambodia: A significant milestone has been reached in Cambodia’s nationwide effort to combat the use of plastic bags, with over 1 million students from more than 9,000 educational institutions in 20 provinces joining the initiative. The campaign, with the theme “Today I do not use plastic bags,” was officially launched in Kampong Chhnang Province.
H.E. the Governor of Kampong Chhnang Province expressed interest and endorsement of the campaign, emphasizing the urgent need for collective engagement across all sectors of society. This is in response to the growing concerns over adverse environmental impacts caused by the population growth and economic activities. The governor stressed the importance of restoring ecological balance, enhancing urban aesthetics, protecting public health, and promoting social well-being.
Lok Chumteav Men Neary Sopheak, the First Deputy Secretary-General of the Cambodian Red Cross, highlighted the determination of both the Royal Government and Cambodian citizens to combat plastic pollution. She emphasized the alarming fact that it takes a plastic bottle 450 years to biodegrade naturally, leading to long-lasting toxins in the environment. She called for collaborative efforts to raise environmental awareness and collectively reduce plastic waste.
In support of the campaign, H.E. Dr. Eang Sophalleth, the Minister of Environment, pledged unwavering dedication. He believes that participants, especially students, will become advocates for the campaign’s objectives among their peers and families, encouraging a reduction in the use of plastic bags. This effort aligns with the goals of promoting clean living, nurturing a green environment, advancing sustainable development, and striving for carbon neutrality. It is consistent with the comprehensive strategy of the Royal Government of Cambodia, emphasizing social, economic, and climate resilience.
To achieve these objectives, Minister Eang Sophalleth actively promotes the expansion of the campaign across educational institutions nationwide. The initiative aims to include over 30,000 schools, impacting more than 3.7 million students. The primary goal is to raise public awareness and encourage greater community involvement, ultimately transforming the attitudes and lifestyles of the Khmer people. The vision is to cultivate a society that thrives in a clean, green environment, aligning with the principles of carbon neutrality. The commitment to refrain from using plastic bags for at least one day every week fuels this transformation.
H.E. Ouk Rabun, Senior Minister in Charge of Special Mission and Chairman of the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development, voiced his support for the initiative. Playing a pivotal role, he officiated the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Environment, the Cambodian Red Cross, Kampong Chhnang Provincial Administration, Pursat Provincial Administration, and Kandal Provincial Administration. He called for the involvement of the Capital and Provincial Administrations, along with other relevant institutions, emphasizing the collective commitment to cleanliness and dignified living encapsulated in the slogan “Clean Cambodia starts with each of us”.
The campaign was first implemented in eight schools across Kampong Chhnang, Rolea Bier, Kampong Tralach, Samaki Meanchey, Teuk Phos, Boribo, Kampong Leng, and the Choul Kiri district. Prominent figures including H.E. Lok Chumteav, Chairman of the Third Committee of the Senate, the Governor of the Provincial Board of Governors, representatives from the Armed Forces, and 3,845 educators attended the event. Notably, more than ten thousand students actively participated and pledged their commitment to forsake the use of plastic bags, showcasing their dedication with the slogan “bye bye plastic bags”.
This milestone achieved in the campaign to reduce plastic bag use marks a significant step forward for Cambodia’s environmental sustainability efforts. The collaboration between various stakeholders, including governmental bodies and educational institutions, sets a great example for other countries to follow in their fight against plastic pollution. With continued dedication and engagement, Cambodia is on the path to a cleaner, greener future.