Hydropower planning in informal institutional settings: Chinese institutions and the failure of environmental and social regulation in Cambodia

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Abstract

This study considers Chinese hydropower investment in Cambodia, examining the degree to which Chinese companies adhere to international or national environmental and social standards and analysing the roles played by and the interactions between Chinese and Cambodian actors in the building of hydropower capacity in Cambodia. The example used is the Kamchay Dam, built by Sinohydro and financed by the China Export Import Bank (China Exim Bank). An analysis of the distribution of responsibilities enables us to take a close look at interactions, processes and conflicts between the two sides in the planning and implementation of hydroelectric dams. It also enables us to identify weak points in the environmental and social regulations and to direct criticism more precisely, thus avoiding general accusations against either the Cambodian government or Chinese companies. The legal and political situation in Cambodia is made difficult by a number of factors: a neo-patrimonial, authoritarian polity in combination with elite economic interests produces a legally problematic situation in which personal interests and perceptions outweigh abstract administrative processes. This explains the failure of environmental and social regulation in Cambodia.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEvolution of Dam Policies: evidence from the big hydropower states
EditorsWaltina Scheumann, Oliver Hensengerth
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherSpringer
Pages273-306
Number of pages400
ISBN (Print)9783642234026
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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