Cambodia is a rapidly developing country. In 2018, its economy grew by 7.5% in 2018 according to the World Bank’s economic outlook released in May 2019. Tourism and garment manufacturing are the two largest industries for Cambodia along with an increasing number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) driven by innovation and entrepreneurship mindset. Still, agriculture remains the main source of income for rural population in the country. Thus, investing in village development to empower the rural population is critical to reduce poverty in Cambodia.
Under the Republic of Korea (RoK) and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) Facility/Programme for Capacity Development for Poverty Reduction through South-South and Triangular Cooperation in Science and Technology (RoK-UNOSSC Facility) – Phase 2, Korean institutions have been carrying out cross sectoral development activities in Cambodia since 2017.
On 24 December 2019, the General Secretariat of the National Science and Technology Council (GS-NSTC), Ministry of Planning in Cambodia and UNOSSC co-organized a Consultative Workshop on 2020 Workplan Formulation in Cambodia under the RoK-UNOSSC Facility (Phase 2) in Phnom Penh Cambodia.
More than 60 participants including government officials and experts from the Ministries of Planning, Education, Health, Labor and Vocational Training, One Village One Product National Committee, Srey Santhor local government agencies, academia and civil society, attended the meeting. In addition, the Government of Indonesia delegation from the Ministry of National Development and Planning (Bappenas) and Ministry of Villages, Development of Disadvantaged Regions, and Transmigration (MoV) joined the consultation for purposes of South-South cooperation. Indonesia is another country where the Facility is under implementation. Nine RoK institutions also took part in the event.
During the meeting participants reviewed progress, achievements and challenges of project implementation in Cambodia; exchanged experiences and lessons learned among all engaged stakeholders and discussed exit strategies and future plans.
“UNOSSC is very grateful for the unwavering leadership of the Government of Cambodia in support of effective implementation of the RoK-UNOSSC Facility in Cambodia and facilitating South-South and triangular cooperation,” said Ms. Grace Wang, Deputy Director, UNOSSC during her opening remarks by video. “The Korean Facility is a concrete and pragmatic example of how South-South cooperation is at work in the field directly benefiting livelihoods of the people, and directly utilising science and technology for poverty eradication,” she added while underscoring the importance of completing the project well by 2020.
“The Government of Cambodia recognizes that Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) serves as a catalyst in promoting advanced and integrated development of Cambodia in alignment with 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the RoK-UNOSSC Facility for strengthening national and local capacities to leverage adequate knowledge and skills. In fact, GoC will launch the new STI policy at the end of the year to create an enabling environment for greater socio-economic impact,” said H.E. Mr. Has Bunton, the Secretary General of GS-NSTC in his welcoming remarks.
“The Government of Indonesia (GoI) is proud of this strategic South-South and triangular cooperation through the RoK-UNOSSC Facility and appreciates transfer of knowledge and technology by RoK institutions in village index harmonization and integrated village development in Sukabumi, West Java,” said Mr. Ivanovich Agusta, Head of Data and Information Centre, MoV. “With significant village development in Indonesia, the GoI is planning to expand its international cooperation on innovative village development especially with Southern countries including Cambodia through its centre of excellence in Sukabumi,” he added.
After presentations on the progress of the Facility by UNOSSC and RoK institutions, the GoI representative shared experiences and best practices in multi-stakeholder coordination and national village development under the RoK-UNOSSC Facility Phase 2.
In closing the workshop, Mr. Denis Nkala, UNOSSC Regional Coordinator and Representative for Asia-Pacific, emphasized the need for all stakeholders to take the ownership in ensuring the sustainability and continuity of the projects in Cambodia. To that end, a “priority work plan” for 2020 had to include carrying out remaining activities and exploring feasibility of current project to other national, local and international initiatives. “For example, school development projects can reach out to other South-South initiatives like the UN-India Development Partnership Fund for further resource mobilization, infrastructure and technology support” he concluded.
The Facility/Programme for Capacity Development for Poverty Reduction through South-South and Triangular Cooperation in Science and Technology (RoK-UNOSSC Facility) – Phase 2 is composed of three components; namely, the Knowledge Platform; the Consortium and the Scaled-up Project. The main objective of Phase 2 of the RoK-UNOSSC Facility is to ensure that the work done by the RoK Institutions is sustainable and scalable. This requires that the Facility be implemented within the framework of the partner countries’ planning frameworks so that the work can be extended and scaled up using national resources. In this way the Facility could have a real impact in helping partner countries achieve their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Platform component is conducted by the following institutions: Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI), UNITAR Cifal Jeju and the Seoul National University’s Technology Management, Economics and Policy Program (TEMEP). Consortium component is led by six institutions namely: the Asia-Pacific Women’s Information Network Centre (APWINC) at Sookmyung Women’s University, Canaan Global Leadership Centre (CGLC), Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), Institute of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Handong Global University (HGU), Institute for Health and Society at Hanyang University (HYU), and Seoul National University, Asian Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability (SNU AIEES).
In Cambodia, the Platform group concentrates on mainstreaming advanced and innovative technologies into community-based entrepreneurship. After a series of technical consultations and workshops to increase business opportunity and investment in on-the-job training, the Technology Business Incubator (TBI) was launched at the General Secretariat of the National Science and Technology Council (GS-NSTC), Ministry of Planning, Government of Cambodia (GoC) in February 2019. The TBI is intended to support technology-based startups in Cambodia primarily related to the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) ecosystem; to serve as a support platform for startup communities; and connect, collaborate, partner, and mobilize possible and available resources to benefit startups and startup communities in the country. In parallel, the Consortium group conducts a multidisciplinary and integrated pilot project on sustainable and inclusive village development in Srey Santhor district in Kampong Cham province.