Cambodia and the fourth Industrial Revolution workshop
08 December 2021
Remarks by the UN Resident Coordinator in Cambodia
H.E. Mr. Cham Prasidh, Senior Minister, MISTI
H.E. Vongsey Vissoth, Delegate Minister attached to Prime Minister and Permanent Secretary of State, MEF or H.E. Kong Mary, Under Secretary of State
Mr. Anthony Robert Gill, Acting Country Director, ADB
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It’s an honor to welcome you to the fourth Industrial Revolution workshop, which is taking place virtually.
Two years ago, we would not have been able to get all of us together on zoom for example. I still recall our initial discussions at the Raffles Hotel when we talked about IR4.0 almost in the abstract, a phenomenon that is yet to happen.
Suffice to say, the world is shifting from analog to digital faster than ever before. A technological revolution that fundamentally alters the way we live, work, and relate to one another.
While the digital era has brought society many incredible benefits, we also face many challenges such as growing digital divides, cyber threats, and human rights violations online. Half of humanity – in particular women and girls in developing countries and vulnerable populations – don’t have access to the Internet.
For a manufacturing country as Cambodia the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – with the changes envisaged in terms of automation, robotization, and digitalization – needs to be handled carefully.
The 4th Industrial Revolution can certainly yield benefits and positive change in terms of productivity and environmental impact, but could also affect the labor force, notably the weakest sectors of society.
The COVID-19 crisis and the related lockdown measures have affected production and social relationships worldwide, and Cambodia makes no exception.
The analyses conducted by both ADB and UNIDO have assessed the impact of the pandemic on the economy, and on specific key sectors, such as garment, highlighting how those measures have also spurred digital readiness in the country.
The Government is facilitating readiness through specific policy measures, notably through the Digital Economy and Society Policy Framework. This is a promising building block to address the key challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
The COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity for digital transformation.
Fully remote workforces;
New technologies in manufacturing;
Innovation to accelerate the SDGs… and more.
How can we ensure that the unfolding technological transformations in Cambodia are leveraged in ways that leave no one behind?
Will our society become more equal or less equal? Will we become more, or less, secure and safe? Will our dignity and rights be enhanced or diminished?
The answers to these questions depend on our ability to work together across disciplines and actors, across nations and political divides.
The impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution at large must be no doubt be harnessed, while at the same time further assessed, and the government’s efforts supported.
The UN system is already engaged with the Government on this transition. Drawing on expertise in the UN Country Team, through UNIDO as specialized agency, together with UN entities operating in the country, such as UNDP, FAO, WHO, UNESCO, ILO, UNICEF; and also leveraging UN expertise based outside of Cambodia such as the ITU and the UN Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries.
Last year, the UN Secretary General presented a Roadmap for Digital Cooperation to build a more open, free, diverse and safe digital future for all. A future that will empower individuals and accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
One of the 8 key areas is digital capacity building. One immediate field to be addressed in Cambodia is skills. It is clear that (re-) training a large number of workers will remain essential as we move forward. In this sense, the good examples, success stories and best practices implementing in other countries are a good building block for Cambodia’s MSMEs.
It is on this note that I close --
More than ever, technology brings people together.
Let us unlock its promise to shape a safer, more sustainable and inclusive world.