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  • Government Will Start Chipping Away at Protected Areas

    05/29/2016

    Between 2009 and 2012, the Ministry of Environment went on nationwide leasing spree, signing over vast swaths of the country’s nominally protected areas to private companies for rubber plantations and other agribusiness ventures.

    In the name of jobs and development, the companies have cleared tens of thousands of hectares of forest in and around their economic land concessions (ELCs), giving Cambodia one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. As a show of his efforts to rein in the more wayward ELCs, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced in February that the government had taken back nearly 1 million hectares, a little less than half of the area leased out nationwide.

  • New EIA rules for mining

    05/23/2016

    The Ministry of Mines and Energy signed joint prakas with the Ministry of Environment to simplifying the environmental impact assessment (EIA) requirements for artisanal and small-scale mining practices. The law has set up a transitional regime for EIA compliance, based on the scale and scope of existing mining operations in attempt to formalise the sector […]

  • Mekong River in danger, but MRC is ‘weak’

    05/23/2016

    Dams and water diversion projects along the Mekong River threaten to overwhelm an ecosystem that supports 60 million people and thousands of species, according to a consensus of scientists, NGOs and governments. But amidst this pending crisis, the main mechanism set up to protect the river is becoming all but irrelevant.

    The Mekong now needs more protection than ever, experts say, but the Mekong River Commission (MRC) – an international body that manages Mekong development and water resource use – has been steadily losing power for years, say current and former employees who spoke on condition of anonymity.

  • World Bank to re-engage after five-year absence

    05/23/2016

    The World Bank has approved $130 million in developmental aid aimed at reducing poverty in Cambodia, signalling its first direct re-engagement with the Kingdom since it left in protest in 2011 after one of the largest forceful evictions led by the government displaced more than 3,000 families.

    The decision came last week when the World Bank’s executive directors voted on a new Country Engagement Note (CEN) that approved financing of four projects including infrastructure development, clean-water projects, agriculture production and access to health care.

  • Mekong Investment Underscores Japan’s Economic Clout in Southeast Asia

    05/23/2016

    Earlier this month, Japan announced a three-year, $7 billion investment deal with the countries of the lower Mekong River to boost development and improve infrastructure. In an email interview, Phuong Nguyen, an associate fellow with the Southeast Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, discussed Japan’s relations in Southeast Asia.

  • Harnessing Sesan River: Cambodia and its goal for electricity self-sufficiency

    05/18/2016

    For the past ten years, Cambodia’s economy has been growing by an average of 7 percent and the government has set the sight to upgrade the country to the status of middle-income country in 2030 by promoting investments especially garment industry and service sector. And this has spurred the increasing need of electricity.

    According to the Electricity Authority of Cambodia, Cambodia bought 40-50 percent of its energy need from neighbouring countries. The Southeast Asia Energy Outlookj 2015 report which was undertaken by the International Energy Agency predicted that energy need of the region would increase to three times of the current need in year 2040 and coal was designated by IEA as the main source of fuel for electricity generating.

  • Southeast Asia’s Rivers Run Dry

    05/16/2016

    The dry months before the monsoon rains arrive are often tough for Cambodian fishermen and farmers. But with rivers drying up and drinking water running out, conditions have rarely been as bad as they are now.

    The current drought is linked to El Niño, which has been disrupting weather patterns around the world. But the harsh conditions today might only be foreshadowing far worse to come, climate scientists say. Climate change is expected to continue to affect the Mekong Basin region, while future droughts are expected to be exacerbated by a string of major hydropower dam projects.

    Experts fear that the present crisis could become the new normal for Cambodia and its neighbors, which have also been hit hard by record temperatures and a long period of extremely dry weather.

  • Hun Sen Declares Major Forestry Shakeup

    05/13/2016

    In what he characterized as a shakeup aimed at curtailing the autocratic whims of the forestry and fisheries administrations, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Thursday that he was placing both bodies under the authority of provincial governments.

    The premier delivered a speech canvassing a wide range of environmental issues in which he also said those holding remaining forest concessions—which date back to the 1990s and were placed under moratorium in 2001—must hand them back or have them forcibly reclaimed by the state.

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