The Cardamom Conundrum: Reconciling Development and Conservation in the Kingdom of Cambodia


By Timothy J. Killeen

A "conundrum" is a puzzle whose solution also involves resolving a paradox. In this instance, the paradox arises from two widely held and conflicting assumptions: that the pathway to a modern economy requires exploiting and monetizing a country's natural resources, and that the long-term prosperity of a nation depends on the conservation of those very same resources. This book consciously seeks to avoid the mentality of "trade-offs", in which pro-development advocates view conservation efforts as impediments, and conservationists are convinced that development inevitably leads to a loss for nature.

The still pristine forests of the Cardamom Mountains and surrounding landscapes encapsulate the dilemma faced by development planners. Resolving the Cardamom Conundrum requires an economic model that not only provides robust economic growth but also alleviates poverty over the short term and eradicates it over the medium term - any other solution is morally unacceptable and impractical. In this book, Timothy Killeen identifies innovative options linked to climate finance and low carbon development strategies that span the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. He argues that wise management of renewable natural resources can promote sound economic growth without harmful "trade-offs", and that wise management of a nation's renewable natural resources will facilitate economic growth.

"The Cardamom Conundrum, then, is also useful for many Cambodians and non-Cambodians to understand how conservation and development in the context of climate change provide Cambodia with an opportunity to achieve a green economy. It is a comprehensive resource book that could provide readers with new knowledge on this subject." - Mak Sithirith

Timothy J. Killeen is Senior Research Scientist with Conservation International (CI).

Publication Year: 2012
352 pages, 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-614-6, Paperback

NUS Press