Appendix 5: Sample Letter to a Chinese Dam Building Company
Mr Zhu Yongpeng
6-8 Fuchengmeng Bei Street,
Xicheng District, Beijing, 100034
People's Republic of China.
Re: China Guodian's Overseas Project Risks
Dear Mr Zhu,
International Rivers is an international civil society organization that works globally to protect rivers and to promote better solutions for meeting water, energy, and flood management needs. We write to express concern with the Stung Cheny Areng and Sambor Hydropower Projects that China Guodian may be pursuing in Cambodia. It may be prudent that Guodian addresses these concerns before it enters into contracts to develop these hydropower dams.
In recent years, Guodian has increasingly sought opportunities within the Greater Mekong Sub-region, especially investments in power generation projects and electricity trade. These overseas ventures create both major opportunities and challenges for Guodian. On the one hand, these investments diversify the company's revenue base, but at the same time these projects are accompanied by social and environmental impacts that may bring risks to the company's reputation. International hydropower projects are a new business area for Guodian. International institutions such as the World Bank and high-level expert bodies such as the World Commission on Dams have developed guidelines which help address the social and environmental impacts of hydropower projects.
The World Commission on Dams (WCD) was created in May 1998 by the World Bank and the International Union for the Conservation. The Commission's mandate was to review the development effectiveness of dams, and to develop standards and guidelines for future water and energy projects. The Commission consisted of twelve members from governments, industry, academia, and civil society, and carried out the most comprehensive evaluation of large dams ever done to date. To improve development outcomes of water and energy projects, the WCD in 2000 presented a new frame work for decision-making based on recognizing the rights and assessing the risks of all interested parties. This framework puts forward 26 recommendations, which are grouped under the following seven strategic priorities: Gaining Public Acceptance; Comprehensive Options Assessment; Addressing Existing Dams; Sustaining Rivers and Livelihoods; Recognizing Entitlements and Sharing Benefits; Ensuring Compliance; and Sharing Rivers for Peace, Development and Security. Annex 2 contains a more detailed summary of the WCD framework.
The International Finance Corporation's (IFC) Policy and Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability also sets an international standard. Revised in 2011, the IFC policy deScribes best practices and standards on land acquisition and involuntary resettlement, environment and biodiversity protection, indigenous communities, environmental and social impact assessments
Below are our key concerns regarding power generation projects Guodian is currently pursuing:
Sambor Hydropower Project, Cambodia: Located on the Mekong River mainstream, this project would hinder critical fish migrations, destroy fish haLocated on the Mekong River mainstream, this project would hinder critical fish migrations, destroy fish habitats, and interrupt the river's hydrological, sediment and nutrient cycles. The project will threaten the food security of many riparian communities in Cambodia and Lao, and damage commercial fishing activities. The project also threatens a number of endangered species, including the Irrawaddy Dolphin. There has been significant opposition raised across Lower Mekong countries to hydro-power dams on the Mekong mainstream.
Stung Cheny Areng Hydropower Project, Cambodia: The proposed project is located in a densely populated area. Its reservoir would flood nine villages and extend into the Central Cardamom Protected Forest. It would inundate the habitat of 31 endangered fauna species, including the world's most important breeding site for the endangered Siamese Crocodile.
We believe that the projects listed above do not comply with important policy documents of the People's Republic of China such as the State Council's "Nine Principles on Encouraging and Standardizing Foreign Investment", SASAC's "Guidelines on Fulfilling Social Responsibility by Central Enterprises", and the China Banking Regulatory Commission's Green Credit Policy.
We would be glad to diScuss with you how Guodian's environmental policy could be strengthened and project-specific concerns addressed either through further correspondence or in a personal meeting.
We look forward to your response.