Overview of policy and legal framework

Workshop on scenario-guided policy analysis for development, food security and environment in South East Asia. Photo by Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, taken on 22 October 2014. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

Workshop on scenario-guided policy analysis for development, food security and environment in South East Asia. Photo by Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, taken on 22 October 2014. Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Between 2014 and 2018, the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC)’s guiding strategy is the Rectangular Strategy Phase III. Under the strategy, environmental protection and conservation are given high priority.1

Cambodia’s National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) for 2014–2018 states the importance of protecting natural resources and sustainable development.2

National Forest Program 2010–2029 was formulated and adopted by the RGC in 2010.3 The policy established six programs:4 

  • forest demarcation, classification and registration
  • conservation and development of forest resources and biodiversity
  • forest law enforcement and governance
  • community forestry
  • capacity and research development
  • sustainable forest financing.

One of its aims was to achieve the relevant Millennium Development Goals, including one to maintain 60​ percent of forest cover by 2015. However, ODC’s 2014 forest cover update revealed the percentage of non-forest ground cover (48.4%) was larger than that of forest cover (47.7%)5, which supported the findings of other groups such as the University of Maryland (Hansen et al) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Therefore, the 60 percent goal by 2015 was not met. Maps based on the University of Maryland work are available at the Global Forest Watch website.

In 2011, the Strategic Planning Framework for Fisheries Sector 2010–2019 was released. Its main purpose is to support the achievement of CMDGs, the implementation of the NSDP, and compliance with the Law on Fisheries, to the benefit of the people of Cambodia. This policy aims for boosting fish production to serve domestic consumption and export markets by relying on three pillars:ref]Royal Government of Cambodia. Strategic Planning Framework for Fisheries Sector 2010-2019. Phnom Penh: 2011.[/ref]

  • freshwater and marine-based natural fisheries
  • freshwater and marine aquaculture
  • facilitating processing and trade.[

The National Policy and Strategic Plan for Green Growth 2013–2030 was approved by the Council of Ministers in March 2013. This national policy was compiled by the Ministry of Environment, aiming for balance between economic and social development, and the environment. It fosters the Cambodian green economy, particularly around enhancing green finance and green investment. In addition, the Kingdom has adopted several legal instruments for green growth implementation, including the National Green Growth Roadmap of December 2009.6

Cambodia’s key legal framework

Cambodia’s main legal framework for addressing environmental protection, management of natural resources and public consultation is the Law on Environmental Protection and Natural Resource Management (‘the Environment Law’), which was adopted in 1996.

The Environment Law, although brief, has as stated objectives:7

  • protect and upgrade environmental quality and reduce pollution
  • assess the impacts of proposed projects before approval
  • ensure rational and sustainable use of the Kingdom’s resources
  • encourage public participation in environmental protection and natural resource management
  • suppress acts that impact negatively on the environment.

In addition, according to the Environment Law’s Chapter IV concerning natural resources management, the law requires MoE to collaborate with relevant ministries. It will assess the environmental impacts on natural resources and provide recommendations to the ministries to ensure that the natural resources are used in a sustainable manner. However, the roles and responsibilities of the relevant ministries are not clearly defined in the Environment Law.8

Specific regulations and standards for environmental quality are contained in three sub-decrees:

The main legislation regarding forestry is the Forestry Law, which was adopted in 2002. The Forestry Law states that the management of forests is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), except for the management of flooded forests which is covered by a different law.

Specific regulations on forestry management are:

The fisheries resource is legislated under the Fisheries Law, which was adopted in 2006. More details can be found in the fishing policy and administration page.

Specific regulations on fisheries management are:

Last updated: 24 November 2018

Related to overview of policy and legal framework


  • 1. Royal Government of Cambodia. Rectangular Strategy Phases III. Phnom Penh: 2013.
  • 2. Royal Government of Cambodia. National Strategic Development Plan 2014-2018. Phnom Penh: 2013.
  • 3. Royal Government of Cambodia. National Forest Program 2010-2029. Phnom Penh: 2010.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. “Forest Cover.” Open Development Cambodia. 10 April 2015. Accessed 5 May 2015. http://www.opendevelopmentcambodia.net/briefing/forest-cover/.
  • 6. “Cambodia Launches Green Growth Plan 2013-2030.” Xinhua, 1 March 2013. Accessed 15 July 2015. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2013-03/01/c_132201617.htm
  • 7. Law on Environmental Protection and Natural Resource Management, 1996 (Article 1).
  • 8. Ibid. (Chapter IV, Article 9).
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