Remarks by Polly Dunford, Mission Director, USAID Cambodia, at the National Environmental Pupil-Drawing Award Competition

Friday, November 18, 2016
Remarks by Polly Dunford, Mission Director, USAID Cambodia, at the National Environmental Pupil-Drawing Award Competition
Remarks by Polly Dunford, Mission Director, USAID Cambodia, at the National Environmental Pupil-Drawing Award Competition

(as prepared for delivery)


  • Your excellency Phay Bun Chhoeun, Secretary of State, Ministry of Environment
  • Her excellency Rachana Khun, Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports
  • Your excellency Dr. Pheav Sovuthy, Director-General of General Directorate of Environmental Knowledge and Information
  • Students, ladies, and gentlemen

We are here today to celebrate two things that Cambodia can count among its riches: beautiful art and abundant natural resources like its forests and rivers. Even in my short time in Cambodia, I’m truly impressed by the wealth of traditional art as well as the country’s natural beauty. These are very special gifts and it is up to all of us to make sure that they are nurtured and protected. 

Helping the country’s young people appreciate these important gifts is something that we are glad to support. With more than 30 percent of Cambodia’s population under 15 years of age, helping teachers and students understand environmental issues is important so that all of you can play a part in conserving Cambodia’s beautiful natural resources. Art can play an important role in helping us achieve this.

Recently, USAID’s Supporting Forests and Biodiversity project launched “Five Masterpieces.” This event featured several Khmer traditional art forms, including Ayai, Chapey Dang Veng, painting, music videos, films and creative dance. We used Cambodia’s beautiful traditional art forms to raise awareness about the country’s natural resources and their importance to its cultural traditions. Earlier this year, the project supported a “Youth Debate Forum for Prey Lang Protection” among 260 university students from 33 universities. That event inspired Cambodian youth to help protect their forests and all of the animals and beautiful plants living inside of it.

Through environmental education campaigns in rural communities, we have raised the awareness of thousands of students, and mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles who are also your teachers, monks, community forestry members, patrol teams, and government officials. All of you working together can protect your forests and wildlife. We are proud of these activities and we are equally appreciative of the collaboration of our government counterparts.

In partnership with the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports - we supported the launch and implementation of the Eco School Program in the Eastern Plains and Prey Lang. This program empowers teachers and students to promote sustainable environmental protection among their communities and families. 

That is why we are proud to join you today as we celebrate young Cambodian artists. Encouraging youth to embrace art and the environment is our goal. We are proud to have supported the General Directorate of Environmental Knowledge and Information in this competition. We will continue to support communication strategies that inspire youth to share messages about environmental protection and responsible use of those resources.

In closing I would like to thank their excellencies the Ministers of Environment and Education for the priority that they have placed upon the education of youth on raising the importance of Cambodia’s natural resources. My thanks, also, to our colleagues from Winrock International for their great work in the management of the Supporting Forests and Biodiversity project. 

Most importantly, I want to thank our young artists who are here with us today. Congratulations on your wonderful artwork. Don’t stop sharing lessons through your drawings!

Thank you.

Phnom Penh
Issuing Country