The Cambodian Government is undertaking a programme to protect the environment of the World Cultural Heritage site of Angkor that will include implementation of the ISO 14001 environmental management system standard.
Angkor, listed by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as a world heritage site, is inundated by up to half a million domestic and foreign tourists per year. The historic temples of Angkor Wat and Bayon are symbols of Cambodia and the pride of Cambodians. However, with a dramatic increase in tourism, it is becoming increasingly important to protect the environment around these sites, so they can be preserved for future generations.
"Following a similar increase in road and hotel construction and in garbage and waste water from daily living, we at the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA Authority) realized that something had to be done to address the problem of the environmental deterioration of Angkor," writes Bun Narith, President-Executive Director of APSARA, in an article on the Angkor environmental programme in the latest issue of the ISO magazine ISO Management Systems.
He reports that ASPSARA was introduced to the concept of environmental management systems (EMS) and to ISO 14001 by Professor Yoshiaki Ishizawa, of Sophia University, Japan, who is highly respected by Cambodians and Japanese alike for his untiring efforts to protect the Angkor heritage site.
"We became convinced of the need to implement an EMS to protect the site," says Bun Narith in his article. "The decision has received tremendous support from Prime Minister Hun Sen and other leaders of the Cambodian Government, including translation of ISO 14001 into the Khmer language."
His Excellency Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, is quoted in the ISO Management Systems article. He comments: "I was very much impressed by the proposal that APSARA Authority made to me last year for the introduction of the EMS based upon the International Standard ISO 14001. The plan represents a landmark effort to conserve the environment surrounding Angkor, one of the World Heritage Sites, and I would like them to succeed in this challenge to achieve the goal of implementing the EMS by all means."
Bun Narith writes, "In view of our rather limited EMS knowledge, we are spending some three years familiarizing ourselves with the system, developing human resources, providing practical training using an easy-to-understand model, and training local school children and residents, instead of rushing into the implementation programme."
ISO Secretary-General Alan Bryden comments: "ISO's portfolio of 14 600 International Standards constitutes a complete offering for all three dimensions of sustainable development - social, economic and environmental. It is very exciting and gratifying for ISO that ISO 14001 will be one of the tools used to ensure the sustainability of such a prestigious example of the world's cultural heritage as Angkor."
The Angkor environmental programme is being supported by Japanese institutions. Environmental education, EMS guidance, EMS training support and technical assistance for environmental surveys has been provided by the Sophia Asia Centre for Research and Human Development, the Quality Assurance Institute Inc. (JQAI), the Japan Quality Assurance Organization (JQA) and the International Standards Research Institute, Inc. (ISRI).