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Catholic institute wins environment award in Cambodia – UCA News


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St. Paul’s Institute was awarded for promoting environmentally friendly furniture

Catholic institute wins environment award in Cambodia

Cambodian Environment Minister Say Samal (left) hands over a certificate of honor to St. Paul’s Institute director Phon Sophan for promoting an innovative environmental project. (Photo: Catholic Social Communication)  

Published: April 14, 2022 06:46 AM GMT

Updated: April 14, 2022 07:06 AM GMT

A church-run school in southern Cambodia has won the final round of a national competition for promoting innovative ideas for protecting the environment.

St. Paul’s Institute in Takeo province near the Vietnam border was announced the winner of the Cambodia Green Future Project sponsored by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Cambodia’s Environment Ministry on April 6, reported Catholic Social Communication (CSC).

Environment Minister Say Samal presented a certificate of recognition to the institute’s director Phon Sophan.


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The school participated in the project that ran from September to December 2021 to encourage Cambodians to pursue creative, environmentally friendly ideas and to recognize “green champions.”

Many of the works have been selected for public distribution and a media campaign.  

St. Paul’s Institute promoted an innovative idea on how to switch to environmentally friendly furniture from luxury wood furniture.

“Changing attitudes and continuing to participate in promoting the value of natural resources start from each of us, especially young people and families”

“This program encouraged institutions and individuals to support environmental partnerships. As a higher education institute, St. Paul’s has always cared for the environment,” director Sophan said during the April 6 event.

He said that under the leadership of Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler, apostolic vicar of Phnom Penh and founded of the school, St. Paul’s Institute has been observing “green year” this year and students have been engaged in cleaning the environment and planting trees.

Environment Minister Say Samal said changing attitudes can prevent the destruction of natural resources.

“Changing attitudes and continuing to participate in promoting the value of natural resources start from each of us, especially young people and families. And the community is an important factor in contributing to the preservation of natural resources and the environment,” the minister said.

USAID country head for Cambodia Nancy J. Islick noted that St. Paul’s idea of environmentally friendly furniture provides a lifeline to save precious woods from deforestation.

“Demand for rosewood has increased significantly in both domestic and international markets, contributing to deforestation and the loss of valuable tree species in tropical forests,” Islick said.

“We hope that this youth-led campaign will provide useful information and options for Cambodians, especially young people considering the use of non-luxury wood furniture.” 

Christians in Cambodia are a small minority, making up about one percent of an estimated 17 million people in the Buddhist-majority nation

St. Paul’s Institute was founded 12 years ago by Bishop Schmitthaeusler, a member of the Paris Foreign Missions Society (MEP), when he worked in the province as a parish priest and social activist.

Bishop Schmitthaeusler was awarded Cambodia’s top National Order of Merit medal for his seminal efforts in social development in Cambodia since 1998.

Since its founding, St. Paul’s Institute has been educating undergraduate students in software, telecommunication and network engineering, English literature, tourism management, agriculture, agronomy, veterinary and social work among other subjects. 

Christians in Cambodia are a small minority, making up about one percent of an estimated 17 million people in the Buddhist-majority nation.

The Catholic Church in Cambodia has about 20,000 members in three jurisdictions — the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh, Apostolic Prefecture of Battambang and Apostolic Prefecture of Kompong-Cham. 

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