Report: Cambodia Proposal Development Training Workshop

5–8 October 2015, Siem Reap, Cambodia — A Proposal Development Training Workshop (PDTW) was held to capacitate young researchers and practitioners from Southeast Asia to develop competitive project proposals for submission to APN for funding. The workshop was jointly organised and supported by the Ministry of Environment of the Kingdom of Cambodia and APN and involved trainees from Lao PDR, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. The full report of the workshop is appended to this note and can be downloaded here: APN CAM-PDTW 2015 Report.

Report on Cambodia Proposal Development Training Workshop: Environmental Problems and Related Policy Issues, and Climate Change & Associated Socio-Economic Impacts

Siem Reap Cambodia 5-8 October 2015

Report Collage

One of APN’s 4 goals is improving the scientific and technical capabilities of nations in the region. It is vital that developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region have the capacity to conduct high-quality local, national and regional research that provides underpinning scientific support for policy-makers and policy-making processes. The APN believes that research must involve local scientists and they must be given the capacity to continue their research, analyse and utilise their research outcomes.  With this aim APN has been conducting Proposal Development Training Workshops in various parts of the region that brought together international participants.

The training workshop, which was jointly organised by the Ministry of Environment of the Kingdom of Cambodia and APN, aimed to enhance the capacity of Southeast Asia young researchers and practitioners to develop competitive project proposals for submission to APN for funding. The training workshop especially focused on Cambodian young researchers to increase their engagement in regional and international research and capacity development activities. Further, it provided opportunities for other Southeast Asian scientists from Lao PDR, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam (selected through an open and competitive process) who are interested in working with Cambodian scientists in their regional studies to join the workshop.

The objectives of the PDTW workshop were to: (a) Raise awareness of the APN among young/early career scientists in the Southeast sub-region of the Asia-Pacific; (b) Increase capacity of young/early career scientists to submit proposals to the APN and compete effectively in its competitive Annual Calls for Proposals (for research and capacity development) in key scientific areas for global change and sustainable development in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region as well; (c) Enhance the capacity of Cambodian young researchers to engage in regional and international research and capacity development activities; and (d) Create opportunities for young/early career scientists and practitioners to network and build lasting professional relationships with their peers across national boundaries who are working in the area of environments and global change for their future careers.

The workshop focussed on two broad thematic areas that encompassed the priority topics of (1) Environmental Problems and related Policy Issues; and (2) Climate Change and Associated Socio-Economic Impacts and each of the six peer groups formed identified scientific research topics for their respective proposals according to these themes.

During the Opening Session Welcome Remarks were given by Dr. SEM Sundara, Director of Environmental Education, Ministry of Environment, Cambodia and APN national Focal Point for Cambodia This was followed by Keynote Remarks from Dr. Linda Anne STEVENSON, Head, Communication & Scientific Affairs Division of APN Secretariat who introduced the APN and its activities and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Key opening Remarks were then provided by His Excellency SAY Samal, Minister of Environment who welcomed all participants and formally opened the international workshop.

In the morning session, Dr. Sem provided information to participants on the workshop objectives and structure.  Participants were then asked to form into six pre-selected groups of peers and mentors. All participants the provided a brief introduction. This was followed by a presentation by Dr. Stevenson who introduced the APN and provided key information on the APN’s annual Calls for Proposals. A presentation on Regional Research Development was then given by Dr. Subramanian MOTEN, Expert Member of the APN Scientific Planning Group (SPG), who provided his perspectives on developing regional research. In his talk, Dr. Moten covered issues including: difference between local and regional research; how regional research benefits individual countries; key elements to consider in regional research and why regional collaboration is important.

A Peer-Group discussion session ensued, which was designed for participants to have short discussions within their groups and share information on regional and national research interests as related to the topics of the workshop and identify specific research topics for proposal development. With their assigned mentorship, each group of trainees developed a research abstract (project summary) and identified the objectives of their respective proposed activities.

Chaired by Dr. Sem, the afternoon started with an expert session on proposal writing, which was kicked off by Dr. Stevenson with a presentation on developing and writing a competitive proposal for the APN and addressing criteria for submission. Prof. Kanayathu C. KOSHY, Centre for Global Sustainability Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia, and Expert Member of the APN Scientific Planning Group (SPG) then shared his thoughts and advice for proposal writing as a successful awardee of APN funds. Dr. Veasna KUM, APN’s SPG member for Cambodia then talked about the role of APN SPG Members in Reviewing Proposals submitted to APN.

Summary Proposal Writing Assignment: In their respective working groups, participants discussed their summary proposals as a product of their earlier session. With expert advice from assigned mentors, each group of trainees prepared their summary proposal based on the criteria provided by the APN.

The second day started with a presentation by H.E. Dr. Tin Ponlok, Secretary General, National Council for Sustainable Development, Ministry of Environment, Cambodia provided an overview of the Phase II of the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance (CCCA) and Trust Fund Process for research proposals. The objective of CCCA is to strengthen national systems and capacities to support the coordination and implementation of Cambodia’s climate change response, contributing to a greener, low carbon, climate-resilient, equitable, sustainable and knowledge-based society, specifically in the implementation of the Cambodia Climate Change Strategic Plan (CCCSP). In his presentation Dr Ponlok also stressed that international organisations could collaborate in proposals.

This was followed by a presentation on Global Environmental Change and Policy Processes in Southeast Asia by Dr. Lance Heath, Expert Member of the APN Scientific Planning Group, Climate Change Institute, ANU, Australia. Dr. Heath emphasised a number of issues in Southeast Asia stressing air pollution; water security; land degradation & deforestation; food security; ecological deterioration; increased urbanisation; and energy security as some of the most pressing environmental issues in the region.

A third presentation was given on Climate Change and their Socio-Economic Impacts in Cambodia by a Dr. Machan Sethea from the Department of Climate Change, Ministry of Environment, Cambodia. In his presentation, he highlighted that the impacts of climate change on annual growth by 2030 would be 1.5% loss annually of GDP growth. By 2050 he noted that the annual impact on GDP by sector would be:

  • Agriculture (more flood, droughts and dry spells): 1.42% GDP
  • Increased burden from climate sensitive diseases: 0.85% GDP
  • More rapid degradation of infrastructures: 0.71% GDP
  • Damage to people/property from storms and floods: 0.25% GDP
  • Energy sector: 0.07% GDP

In addition, he noted that extreme events would become more frequent and more intense and stressed that the 2013 floods alone led to 2% loss of GDP. While climate change is affecting Cambodia’s socio economic situation, he stressed that Cambodia has the means to limit climate change and build a more resilient society for a sustainable future.

On the third and final day, the proposal writing session continued with a discussion on Project Timeframe Development and Budgeting where Dr. Stevenson introduced important points for consideration in proposal writing strategies related to  project timeline development; resources and in-kind contributions; reporting pending support & letter of support; and budget & justification. Professor Kanayathu Koshy then presented on project management and evaluating project outputs providing crucial information on Logical Framework Analysis (LFA); evaluating project outcomes and identifying policy-relevant outcomes.

The writing component of the workshop continued and peer groups further developed their proposals taking into consideration the information they received from presenters. Peer Groups then prepared presentations and presented their proposals to their respective Peers. Following valuable feedback from peers and mentors, proposals were finalised and printed for a session on Peer Group review. This task followed a presentation by Dr. Heath on additional strategies for proposal writing and a presentation from Dr. Subramanian Moten on project evaluation and progress of APN projects.

With guidance from Dr. Stevenson on criteria for peer group proposal review peer groups reviewed 3 proposals and provided their results via oral presentation. This was an exciting part of the training workshop and provided valuable information to participants on their respective proposals. The six proposals’ titles were:

  1. Climate change adaptation through watershed management for improving community assets: cases in Cambodia and Philippines
  2. Development of rice varieties to adapt climate change in the lower Mekong region
  3. The impact of climate change to the coastal community’s livelihood and adaptation practice
  4. Examining mechanisms for effective organic waste management (case studies from three sea coastal cities)
  5. Impact assessment of giant mimosa on agricultural land along the Mekong river: case study in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Lao PDR
  6. Accessing the impacts of urban development in southeast Asia: biodiversity loss and invasive species

The winning proposal was proposal number five, which was followed closely by proposal number one. The first and second placed proposal team members each received APN’s book published by Springer and entitled Climate in Asia and the Pacific: Security, Society and Sustainability (2014). All participants received a certificate from the Ministry of the Environment and, at the same time, expressed their deep appreciation to the organisers and experts for implementing a very valuable workshop.