Gender and development of Cambodia’s National REDD+ Strategy

Pheakkdey Nguon, Royal University of Phnom Penh and Delux Chhun, Forestry Administration, Cambodia

The Royal Government of Cambodia is launching its National REDD+ Strategy (NRS) at COP21 in Paris, France. The NRS has identified concrete policies and measures necessary to generate results in terms of reducing emissions or enhancing removals of greenhouse gases, as well as the costs of implementing the identified policies and measures. The process to develop the NRS officially commenced at the fourth meeting of the national REDD+ Taskforce organised in March 2014. Given that the NRS would be applicable for the entire nation of Cambodia, the REDD+ Taskforce decided that it was essential that all relevant stakeholders were given sufficient opportunity to review and provide their comments on the NRS working drafts. The goal was to ensure that their views would be adequately incorporated into the final version of the NRS and, most importantly, to foster their active participation in the NRS implementation.

In total, five working drafts were produced before the NRS was finalised. The initial draft was produced on January 2015. Following the decision from the REDD+ Taskforce, a series of consultations with more than 1,000 stakeholders were organised from January to November 2015. These stakeholders included representatives of local communities, Indigenous Peoples, women groups, academic institutions, development partners, government and non-government authorities at local, provincial and national level and the private sector. In this article, we reflect on the experience of women’s participation in the NRS development by examining the roles of the REDD+ Gender Group. The objective here is to comment on the extent to which gender related concerns have been integrated into Cambodia’s NRS.

Cambodia is one of the very few countries where a REDD+ Gender Group was officially established by the REDD+ Taskforce so as to: 1) build awareness on gender equality and women’s empowerment for relevant government and non-government stakeholders; 2) advise on gender in components of the NRS and subsequent implementation guidelines as they are prepared; and 3) monitor and evaluate REDD+ implementation to ensure that gender issues are incorporated and appropriately addressed. The Group was established in early 2014. Its members are delegates from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and Ministry of Environment.

Development of a NRS is both a process and product. The Gender Group to a significant extent had impacts on both aspects. In terms of process, the Group initially developed a REDD+ checklist for the proposed skeleton of the NRS to ensure that issues related to gender equality and women’s empowerment are promoted and addressed in the NRS various working drafts. When each NRS working draft was produced, the Group organised meetings among its members to discuss the NRS content. With logistical support from the Cambodia REDD+ Taskforce Secretariat, the Group’s comments on each of the working drafts were prepared and communicated to the NRS drafting team, who in turn provided responses. Detailed accounts of these interactions were documented in the NRS Background Document.  

In terms of the final NRS document, comments from the Gender Group had been incorporated in various sections. First, strategic analysis of the NRS included relevant insights from the Policy and Strategic Framework on Gender Mainstreaming in Agricultural Sector; the Gender and Climate Change Action Plan, and the Neary Ratanak Strategic Plan. Second, one of the main principles that will guide the NRS’s monitoring and evaluation framework is the extent to which issues related to gender equality, gender-sensitive performance in climate change mitigation actions and gender mainstreaming in climate change responses, particularly in the forestry sector, are addressed. Third and most importantly, the vision, mission and goals of the NRS were formulated based on the analysis of institutional capacity, experience of forest management, and gender-responsive strategies to address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.

In short, the Cambodia’s NRS as a document that truly embodies the notions of gender equality and women’s empowerment. The challenge however will be to ensure that these notions are implemented.


Pheakkdey Nguon is a lecturer at the Department of International Studies, Royal University of Phnom Penh

Delux Chhun is Head of the Office of Forest Carbon Credits and Climate Change, Forestry Administration, Cambodia


Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. REDD+ goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.