Single title

Soft Power and Environmental Diplomacy

by Chan Sam Art

The article is part of the book series Cambodia 2040, which is published by Future Forum and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Cambodia. Enjoy the read!

Climate change is widely agreed to be one of the major questions determining how the next two decades will play out across a myriad of topics. This rapid change is not only a source of worry but also of opportunity. There are clear, identifiable opportunities for Cambodia to increase its soft power through environmental diplomacy – specifically in relation to reforestation and sustainable logging.

Why should I read this chapter? ... because environmental diplomacy will enrich Cambodia's soft power. 

Mr. Chan Sam Art's vision for Cambodia's soft power and environmental diplomacy:

  • The primary aspects of Cambodia’s ideal scenario in this area include two aspects: (i) the development of Cambodia’s soft power through leading by example in environmental diplomacy and (ii) achievement of the goal of 60% forest cover and the institutionalization of fair, transparent, and effective carbon emissions trading. 

  • Over the next 20 years, Cambodia will become a green state  by engaging in sustainable policies that set the gold standard for environmental management. 

  • Cambodia will follow an agenda involving predominantly “low politics” topics in the international arena – specifically, climate change as the mainstay of the country’s foreign policy agenda. 

  • Cambodia will in 2040 act collectively with other states in diverse global and multilateral settings to achieve a global solution that will take the lead towards sustainable development via environmental politics. 

  • Cambodia would achieve 60 % of forest cover throughout the country over the next two decades. 

  • Cambodia would become a carbon neutral country and would push for a fair market for carbon trading. 

  • Cambodia will proactively cooperate, capture and catalyse the agenda of global tree reforestation.


Short Story: 

Oudom is an ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the United Nations. He is known for his persistent  and passionate commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation. Having worked closely with tens of thousands of official delegates, Oudom led a tree-planting activity with a view to creating solidarity among diplomats and supporting global reforestation, in commemoration of World Environment Day, on 3 June 2040.


To cope with the formidable challenge of climate change and environmental degradation, Oudom and high-level representatives of various states attend “The Future We Want’’ summit in order to promote sustainable development. During a five minute speech, Oudom shares Cambodia’s experiences in best practices in terms of reforestation and sustainable logging. Cambodia is a champion of forest management and a leading country in pushing carbon trading through utilizing drone and blockchain technologies as he sets out in his speech. He also mentions that the government has set a goal of creating a clean, healthy and green environment in the kingdom’s schools. At the end of the summit, most developed and least developed countries have voiced  support for what Cambodia has done so far on sustainable forest management, further enhancing the country’s soft power. 


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