top of page

The ecofriendly city Phnom Penh in the future?

The Ecotopia 2121 Project details the futures of 100 cities across the globe as though they've somehow overcome all the grave environmental challenges our age and grown to become super-Green and super-ecofriendly. This month, we highlight the future of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.

One of the persistent challenges for the South East Asian cities on the Mekong River, like Phnom Penh, is flooding. These floods can be seasonal or episodic. In future Phnom Penh, as envisioned in the picture below, the agriculture moves from its rural setting and comes to the city as the era of urban agriculture dawns.

The importance of urban agriculture for developing nations like Cambodia is multifarious. By incorporating large-scale urban-based agriculture that works within the prevailing ecosystem, food security will be enhanced and the nutrition for of the urban poor will be improved. With food so close to its consumers, the costs of its production and transport will be lessened. It’s also likely less food will be lost through spillage and decay because the supply chain will have been shortened and simplified in terms of both distance and complexity. It’s doubtful that urban agriculture in Cambodia or elsewhere will ever completely replace the need for rural agriculture but it will complement it; and will allow for a general increase in the efficiency of the national food system as a whole.

Phnom Penh 2121 by Alan Marshall

The urban economy of the ecofriendly city of Phnom Penh will also be boosted since, apart from the farming, many allied activities and services will be opened-up (like, for instance, animal health services, book-keeping services, as well as low-tech and high-tech transportation services).

The technological background to this new ‘city of agriculture’ involves the use of condo-style residences placed on a set of twenty-five concrete stilts above the flood-prone areas of the Mekong River. The river is not engineered and controlled but allowed to flow in a natural way through and around the city. Between the sinuous channels and water-zones, the city residents have wet gardens to grow crops. During seasonal and episodic floods, Phnom Penh residents will stay dry and safe above the flood line. The main crop species of the city is likely to be flood-tolerant rice but also many other wet plant species and freshwater crustaceans can be farmed as well.

Another advantage of this flood tolerance is the positive impact it has on biodiversity. In the early 21st century, Cambodia's wetlands and mangrove communities are suffering at the hands of pollution and rapid development. Concrete channels, barriers and dams often do nothing but make this worse, especially for the aquatic fauna. Here in future Phnom Penh, however, the natural shape of the land and the use of an organic wetlands-based agriculture encourage the riverine fauna ecosystem to flourish so that sustainable harvesting of the fish is made possible as well.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
bottom of page