Welcome Remarks by Oxfam, 8th Extractive Industries Governance Forum
Welcome Remarks by Ms. Priscilla Ngero, Interim Country Director, Oxfam in Cambodia in The 8th Extractive Industries Governance Forum on
“Toward Responsible Mineral Development in Cambodia”
Cambodiana Hotel Phnom Penh
His Excellency Suy Sem, Minister, Ministry of Mines and Energy
His excellencies, honorable quests, ladies and gentlemen,
Let me first express my appreciation to the Ministry of Mines and Energy, companies and NGOs partners that have demonstrated strong interest and collaboration to make this Extractive Industries Governance Forum (EIGF) possible. In this regard, I would like to warmly welcome you to the 8th Extractive Industries Governance Forum.
Together, we have come this far, because we care about the Cambodia’s extractive industry sector. In our Journey together, we would like to see this sector developing towards responsible outcomes that contribute to poverty reduction and equitable development in Cambodia.
In this regard, being new to Cambodia, I am honored to speak and share with you few thoughts and questions we ought to ask to achieve the goal of responsible mining development.
Be environmentally responsible: In the country like Cambodia where environment and natural resources are important to its culture, national pride, social and economic development, and community’s livelihoods, we should respond to a question, how we can develop the extractive sector that can minimize negative impacts and restore possible environmental damage especially water, rivers and ecosystems?
Be inclusive and socially responsible: Mining is considered as important to social and economic development. If it is done well, it can also benefit local communities in terms of job creation, local infrastructure development and community livelihood development. However, we see in other countries that mining can cause negative impacts to community’s welfare and livelihoods. While Ministry of Mines and Energy and companies open for inclusion of local community in discussions and dialogue in some forums, let us continue to engage local communities in meaningful discussions and feedback throughout the mining investment cycle. Mining projects should understand and respond to the needs of vulnerable local communities including indigenous communities and women. They are vulnerable because they often lack information to inform the choice of their livelihood options . A question that needs to be answered is how Cambodia can use “Free, Prior Informed and Consent” as a tool to prevent or minimize conflicts between mining companies and communities living in and adjacent to mining site? If this Free, Prior Informed and consent tool is used correctly, it will enhance the dialogues with communities in order to achieve sustainable mining operations?
Be transparent and institutionally responsible: Institutions and government are the backbone of the development of the sector. The Ministry of Mines and Energy has adapted the slogan “Wealth for All”. In order to achieve the overall goal to ensure wealth for all, transparency in the mining sector is a necessity. What does this look like, this would entail sharing Information including but not limited to data, reports and contracts with the public in a simple and yet concise way that can be understood by all. Cambodia could adapt some of the principles and approaches of international standards and guidelines related to transparency and best practices tried and tested in other countries. Cambodia needs to continue to develop its institutions that allow check and balance, critical discussion and dialogues; and meaningful participation of all relevant stakeholders. Wealth for all is a foundation for active citizenship therefore, before investment decisions can be made, the question, how much revenue will be allocated to social sectors such as education, health, agriculture, skilled vocational trainings for youths; and women economic empowerment at local or national levels should always be answered.
As I close, in order to ensure that mining sector is developed in a responsible manner for Cambodia it is important that we continue to discuss, we continue to ask the questions and continue to find the answers that will benefit the communities affected by these investments.
For Oxfam, we have a global Extractive Industry Program working in more than 30 countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. We develop tools, guidelines and reports to promote responsible mining operations. We support Civil society partners and local communities engaged in the sector to enhance social responsibility of extractive industries operations. We can facilitate knowledge, experiences and tools sharing between Cambodia and other countries. We also value knowledge and experiences of our partners, government ministries and the private sector. Thus we hope we can continue to work together to contribute to this agenda “Toward Responsible Mineral Development in Cambodia”.
I would like to end my welcome remarks by thanking you all for taking the time to be available to participate in this forum. I wish for this forum to be a success, insightful and productive.
Thank you for your attention.