The Environmental and Natural Resources Code (the “Environmental Code”) was adopted on 29 June 2023 by Royal Kram № NS/RKM/0623/007.
- The Royal Government of Cambodia initiated the environmental governance reform and embarked on a significant revision of many of the existing environmental and natural resources laws prior to the adoption of the Environmental Code.
- The Environmental Code creates an enabling legal and policy environment that will make it possible to achieve environmental protection while supporting sustainable economic development in Cambodia.
- The Environmental Code decisively includes significant provisions to strengthen the conservation of natural resources and wildlife, build climate resilience, promote the use of renewable energy, and build sustainable urban environments with the capacity to effectively deal with waste management and pollution.
- The rule of the environmental economy, finance, fee, and management of social and environmental fund helps reinforce the sustainability of the environment, natural resources, society, and culture.
- The Environmental Code sets out intense penalties for any violations including monetary fines and imprisonment.
The Environmental Code strengthens, modernizes, and generally bolsters the management of environmental protection through the conservation and restoration of natural resources, biodiversity, and ecosystems.
The Environmental Code consists of 12 books and 865 articles. We have identified some key elements of the Environmental Code.
Book 1 of the Environmental Codes contains the following main points:
- general provisions and objectives;
- scope of the Environmental Code;
- roles and responsibilities of ministries relevant to the environment and natural resources; and
- legal policy development.
Book 2 has 11 contents including:
- the provisions related to environmental management and sustainability mechanism;
- natural disaster risk management and reduction;
- climate changes;
- biodiversity resources management for sustainable development and biosafety; and
- the provisions related to land use planning in which environmental consideration is required and sustainable city and green building together with general provisions and responsible institutions for these related matters.
The land use planning refers to the rules of land management, land use activity, urban planning, and construction that must set out on the environmental consideration to achieve environmentally friendly and sustainable city in the country (Article 104). Moreover, green building has the purpose to organize mechanism of green building operation and evaluation system management to ensure the effectiveness, transparency, and social equity to divert and reduce the negative impact on environment, economy, and society (Article 116).
In addition, this second book mentions the responsible electrical energy including the general provisions and responsible institutions for the responsible electrical energy strategy planning, type of energy, and electrical energy framework. Interestingly, the eleventh content of this book also describes the responsible extractive industries, which refers to oil, gas, mine, and other metal industries with the general provisions and responsible institutions.
According to Article 121 of the Environmental Code, the use of environmentally friendly technology including renewable energy and civil nuclear energy are empowered for providing electrical services. All materials that are being used for the installation of renewable energy are encouraged through tax exemptions in accordance with the provisions of the investment (Article 131). However, civil nuclear energy must be established under the ownership and management of the government to ensure that the management and operation comply with the international standard of health protection, safety, security, and environment (Article 136).
Book 3 focuses on the environmental protection restricted by its general principles. This book provides details on the following matters:
- inspection of hazardous substance emission;
- solid waste management;
- hazardous waste management;
- liquid waste management;
- air noise and vibration disturbance/pollution management; and
- management of substance which impacts ozone layer, cooling substance, other products made of substance or containing substance that impacts ozone layer.
Book 4 emphasizes the management of natural protective zone and management of beach, coastal areas, and sea.
Book 5 includes the Environmental Assessment Strategy and Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) with following main provisions:
- general provisions;
- responsible institutions;
- EIA principles;
- EIA process;
- Additional EIA;
- public participation for EIA;
- environmental protection plan and project monitoring;
- environmental audit; and
- rights to access to information and national environmental list.
Book 6 and Book 7 determine the provisions related to the liability for the impact on the environment and natural resources by the project owner and the environmental education and awareness.
Book 8 provides the rule of the environmental economy, finance, fee, and management of social and environmental fund, which also determines the following fees:
- environmental fee, or premium;
- payment and management of social and environmental fund;
- establishment and management of environmental trust; and
- financial grant or environmental management plan.
The environmental trust under the Environmental Code refers to the management and organizing trust that is provided by a trustor for the environmental benefits to the beneficiary, subject to a trust license or any applicable regulations.
Book 9 provides the mechanism and procedures for dispute resolution if there is any dispute related to environmental and natural resources dispute.
Book 10 sets out penalties that are related to any violations to environmental and natural resources, environmental management, environmental protection, natural resource management and environmental assessment. The book specifies serious monetary fines on certain cases from minimum of KHR 10,000,000 (approximately USD 2,500) to maximum of KHR 2,000,000,000 (approximately USD 500,000), and imprisonment on certain cases from minimum of 1 (one) month to maximum of 30 (thirty) years.
Book 11 and Book 12 only cover the transition provisions and the ending provisions of the Environmental Code.
Although the Environmental Code was adopted, it will be implemented in one year after its effective date. Once the Environmental Code is implemented, this code will end the effect of related existing laws including Law on Environmental Protection and Natural Resource Management dated 24 December 1996, Law on Natural Protection Area dated 15 February 2008, and Law on Biosafety dated 15 February 2008.
The information provided here is for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Legal advice should be obtained from qualified legal counsel for all specific situations.