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Cambodian monks create environmental association

February 3 2005:

The objectives of ABE include representing the Buddhist Sangha and lay community in fostering a cleaner and healthier environment - in forests, rivers, seas and fields.

The first official assembly of a new association of Cambodian monks dedicated to environmental conservation will be held in Pnomh Penh in March 2005.

It is a direct follow-up to the major Buddhism and Environment event hosted by ARC and the World Bank in May 2004, during which Buddhist clergy from all over Cambodia agreed to work together to manage the use of natural resources, encourage wildlife protection and improve the livelihood of local communities.

The association will be known as the Association of Buddhism for the Environment (ABE) or, in Khmer: "Samakorm Budsasna Dembei Barekthan"(Sor Bor Bor).

A "Monk Watch" programme is planned which will involve two monks collecting information from their 23 provincial counterparts in ABE, about illegal logging, land rights, abuse of forest land, wrongful action by government or forestry administrators, wildlife abuse etc. These reports will be re-directed to the appropriate bodies in Phnom Penh, and the complaints will be logged to increase transparency and accountability within the system.
The assembly will see between 70 and 80 monks from Cambodia's 22 provinces congregating to vote on the statutes by which their association will be governed. There are currently no nuns in the association.

Objectives include:

* Representing the Buddhist Sangha and lay community in promoting and influencing the policies and programs of the Cambodian Government and other appropriate organisations to foster a cleaner and healthier environment.

* Promoting and influencing policies and programmes to preserve Cambodia's forests wildlife and aquatic resources.

* Protecting the rights of monks, nuns and lay people trying to protect or improve their environment.

* Improving the livelihood of the Buddhist Sangha and lay people through the equitable and sustainable use of natural resources.

* Promoting environmental education for all Cambodians.

* Establishing an information network and an administration centre for the furthering of the objectives of ABE.

* Supporting, coordinating and initiating community-based programs that promote a healthier and cleaner environment, the preservation of forests, wildlife and aquatic resources, and the equitable and sustainable use of these natural resources.

* Disseminating information through print, internet or other media to improve the awareness and understanding of the community on the purpose and objectives of ABE and of its views on environmental policies, issues and programs.

* Establishing a library.

Partners invited

The assembly will be mainly for monks and nuns from around Cambodia, although we would like to invite any organisations wishing to collaborate or offer training to come forward with suggestions for presentations, offers of material or for meetings around this time. The date of the meeting has been set for March 9th 2005, but the elected board of nine members will have a further meeting on the 10th March to decide on the Director and Treasurer for ABE.

Please send in any recommendations by email to or telephone Sarou in Phnom Penh on 012 – 985 640.

Sangha Network website planned

ARC and Mlup Baitong are working on the Sangha Network website which will be launched later this year, and aims to map conservation work taking place in Buddhist communities within the southeast Asian region.

The website will also have downloadable material for project proposals, report writing templates, information on NGO's and organisations who could provide possible trainings or funds for projects in and around the pagoda involving.

If anyone is interested in being listed on the site or has any information on monks working in environmental conservation in the region, please inform Tara Lewis, email:

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