Cambodia ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 18 December 1995. The Convention entered into force for Cambodia on 17 March 1996.
The country began it's first climate change related project in 1999, tittled, Cambodia's Climate Change Enabling Activity Project (CCEAP). This project was implemented by the Cambodian Ministry of Environment (MoE) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The objective of this three-year project was to prepare the Initial National Communication of Cambodia to the UNFCCC. This was seen as the first step taken by the Government in implementing the UNFCCC in Cambodia. The project has assisted the country in building its climate change technical and institutional capacity and helped raise climate change awareness among institutions and individuals from the grass-root level to the high political level.
The project was then expanded into Phase 2 for an additional one year period in 2002. Phase 2 helped Cambodia expand and strengthen its climate change capacity by focusing on improving activity data and emission factors in land use change and forestry and agriculture sectors. These activities were selected due to the importance of these sectors in terms of economic development and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission/removal.
In August 2002, the Minister of Environment assumed the UNFCCC National Focal Point position. This was the only international environmental convention that has ministerial level focal point in Cambodia, highlighting the Government's recognition of the importance of and commitment to addressing climate change issues.
In June 2003, the Ministry of Environment established a separate office called "Cambodia Climate Change Office (CCCO)" as cited in its declaration No.195 dated on 23 June 2003. This office is responsible for all activities related to climate change.
In December 2002, MoE and UNEP Risoe Centre on Energy, Climate and Sustainable Development (URC) signed an agreement on Phase 1 implementation of a project called "Capacity Development for the Clean Development Mechanism (CD4CDM)", which was successfully completed in April 2003. The project is financially supported by the Netherlands' Ministry of Foreign Affairs via the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Subsequently, CCCO started implementation of CD4CDM Phase 2 in July 2003. Phase 2 was expected to be completed in December 2005. The overall development objective of this program is to generate, in selected developing countries, a broad understanding and develop institutional capacity and human capacity to "fully participate as equal partners with developed countries in the formulation and implementation of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)". The program is implemented for UNEP by URC, which is responsible for collaboration with the national institutions involved.
Under this project Cambodia has identified 5 immediate objectives:
- Objective1: Establish procedural and infrastructural elements forming a prerequisite for successful implementation of project activities;
- Objective2: Conduct information campaigns and awareness raising on the benefits of the CDM for relevant target groups and generate support of the government for participating in the CDM;
- Objective3: Assist the Government in establishing the Designated National Authority;
- Objective4: Facilitate capacity development for public and private sector players to identify, formulate and secure financing for CDM project on as needs basis; and
- Objective5: Create a pipeline of CDM-eligibles projects.
In August 2003, CCCO started implementation of a new project called "National Adaptation Program of Action to Climate Change (NAPA)" with financial support from GEF through UNDP. This project aims to develop a realistically achievable country-driven program of action and priority activities addressing the urgent and immediate needs and concerns of Cambodia for adaptation to climate change.
In October 2003, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) of Japan started implementation of a capacity building programme for CDM in a number of Asian countries, including Cambodia, called "Integrated Capacity Strengthening for CDM (ICS-CDM). The goal of ICS-CDM is to enable developing countries in Asia and investors from Japan to fully participate in CDM projects that contribute to sustainable development of host countries. The ICS-CDM project is sponsored by the Ministry of Environment of Japan (MoE-Japan).
In October 2009, the CCCO was promoted to the Climate Change Department (CCD) by the government sub-decree No. 175, dated 14 October 2009. It is an arm of the Directorate General of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection (GDANCP) of the Ministry of Environment with a mission to contribute to sustainable development under climate change conditions and in accordance with the policy of the Royal Government of Cambodia.
In May 2015, responding to the MoE’s structural reform, Department of Climate Change (DCC) substituted for CCD has been moved under the National Council for Sustainable Development-General Secretariat (GSSD) mandatory to promote sustainable development aimed at ensuring economic, environmental, social and cultural balance within the Kingdom of Cambodia.