On Thursday morning, June 3, 2021, the Cambodian-Swiss Governmental Consultation on the draft Swiss Mekong Region Cooperation Program 2022-2025 was virtually held via video conference. The Cambodian delegation was led by His Excellency Chhieng Yanara, Minister Attached to the Prime Minister, Secretary General of the Cambodian Rehabilitation and Development Board of the Council for Development of Cambodia (CRDB/CDC) along with the participation of senior, and technical officials from 20 ministries and agencies. The Swiss side led by Mr. Markus Buerli, Director of Cooperation of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and SDC’s officers approximately 60 participants in total.
The main purposes of the consultation were to discuss and gather input from concerned ministries/agencies on the draft Swiss Cooperation Program Mekong Region 2022-2025 (for Cambodia and Laos) mainly focus on the Cambodian-Swiss cooperation program for the next four years. In the meantime, the consultation also reviewed the progress made of the Swiss Cooperation in the framework of the Swiss Cooperation Strategy for Mekong Region 2018-2021, which focuses on three priority areas including 1) Agriculture and Food Security, 2) Governance and Citizen’s Participation, and 3) Skill Development and Employment.
The consultation was conducted successfully in the spirit of equal partnership and cooperation by having actively discussed and gathered key inputs and recommendations from the meeting, which are crucial for the preparation of the Swiss Mekong Region Cooperation Program 2022-2025 more comprehensive and well response to the national priorities of the Royal Government of Cambodia. As a result, both sides highly appreciated and valued the progress made of bilateral development cooperation and mutually agreed in principle on three priority areas for the next four-years period (2022-2025) including 1) Governance and Citizen Participation (support to Kantha Bopha Hospitals, decentralized service delivery, implementation of social accountability framework, and youth in accessing information and effective participation), 2) Inclusive Economic Development (support to an inclusive and demand oriented TVET system and decent work for youth), and 3) Climate Change and Natural Resources Management (support to horticulture value chains, demining for productive land use, community fisheries and forestry, climate-smart agriculture and inclusive water governance, and sustainable forest use).
Notably, according to the Cambodia ODA Database between 2002 and 2020, the Swiss Government provided grants up to USD 142 million to support the implementation of development projects in Cambodia. In the meantime, through the new Swiss Mekong Regional Cooperation Program 2022-2025, the Swiss Government has planned to provide up to CHF 133 million, equivalent to USD 148 million for four-years period by dividing into two level, country level (for Cambodia and Laos) and regional level. In this connection, the Swiss government has planned to provide up to CHF 52 million for four-years period 2022-2025 or USD 13 million per year, in grants to support the implementation of this new cooperation program in Cambodia.
At the end of the consultation, both sides firmly believed that bilateral relations and partnership in development cooperation will be further strengthened and expanded in coming years. In this occasion, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, His Excellency Chhieng Yanara, Minister Attached to the Prime Minister, Secretary General of the Cambodian Rehabilitation and Development Board of the Council for Development of Cambodia, expressed his sincere gratitude and thanks to the Swiss government and its citizens for the continued support and contributions to the sustainable and inclusive development of Cambodia.