Australia Awards – Cambodia

HE Ken Serey Rotha Deputy Director General, MOE
Updated: September 2015

Another Australian National University (ANU) graduate working in a senior position in the Ministry of Environment has managed to blend his commitment to a better environment with his love of, and studies in Economics.

His Excellency (HE), Ken Serey Rotha, currently Deputy Director General in the Ministry, originally wanted to be an Economist, but ended up studying Hydro Engineering at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia. At the time of his studies, the Institute was named the “Cambodia-Russian Friendship Higher Technical Institute”.

HE completed his Australia Award Doctoral studies over two years 2012-2104, in Canberra. His Australian scholarship was his second such honour; his first scholarship course was also completed at ANU, but in that case his Master’s studies were funded by the WWF.

As soon as he returned from his WWF scholarship in 2007, he applied to do more studies – this time through an Australia Award.

“This was my dream”, he explained “… and I am pleased to say that I made it happen.”

“I always wanted to combine Agriculture and Economics in my career, and to help people understand just how important the study and use of Environmental Economics really is.”

Not only does his role in the Ministry mean that His Excellency helps decision makers to make choices about the environment, but he also sees his broader goal as ensuring that future generations “will benefit from the actions and decisions we make now”.

And lecturing to young people on the topic of Environmental Economics provides a further opportunity for him to spread his message… “I like to share my ideas with my younger colleagues, and much of that knowledge comes from my studies in Australia, and from other experiences.”

HE identified positive changes in people’s perceptions of the environment in Cambodia.

“If you’d asked me about the future of environmental management in our country two years ago, my response would have been very different’, he said.

“But now I think that communities and the government are aware of the need for sustainable economic growth and development.”

HE Ken Serey Rotha believes that one of the keys to Cambodia’s continuing development, especially when it requires foreign investment, is reliable sources of power.

“Cambodia is now at the stage where it has to make a decision about investments in hydro power; we need to accept greater industrialisation to progress the country, and this requires us to be realistic.”

And at a personal level, what does the future hold for this important and busy senior expert?

“Perhaps more studies if my family let me”, he laughed.

“I’m a workaholic”, he said. “My parents often say to me that they haven’t seen me for six months… I must be a terrible son”, he joked.