The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organisation with a presence both in China (surprisingly!) and Cambodia, organised a week-long environmental impact assessment training program for Cambodian Ministry of Environment officials and NGOs in September. The training was conducted by Chinese Appraisal Center for Environment and Engineering (ACEE), which “operates under China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) and provides training, drafts laws, and provides advisory reports on environmental issues.”
The training’s idea was clearly to generate trust between Chinese and Cambodian “stakeholders” involved in the investment projects, most of them highly controversial hydropower and mining investments, to suggest a way in which better practices could come from Chinese actors rather than from Western pressure, which has yielded little so far, but also to introduce Chinese planners to local perspectives:
Hearing from Cambodians about their lack of capacity in impact assessment, the sheer number of destructive projects being implemented, and about China’s role as the number one investor in the country, the Chinese trainers gained a sense of ownership in the project.
The popular Canton newspaper Southern Weekend ran a feature on the training with the headline Chinese Trainers, Cambodian Students on October 7, 2010.