Cambodia has made major strides liberalizing its economy and attracting foreign investment, joining ASEAN in 1999 and the WTO in 2004. Unfortunately, economic development has been accompanied by life-threatening environmental and social impacts including massive deforestation, water and food security issues, land tenure insecurity and widening inequality. Lack of transparency in land conversion and industrial development endangers Cambodia’s poor, hampering advocacy and resource stewardship. To increase transparency EWMI created the Open Development Cambodia Initiative (http://www.opendevelopmentcambodia.net/home/), which unites disparate data collection efforts by individual groups advocating for social and environmental justice and allows them to share it. Too often, core data is perceived as biased, and subsequently undermined, solely based on the particular advocacy group presenting it as fact. For this reason, EWMI designed the Open Development Cambodia Network network to be secure and to make inaccessible data public in a politically neutral way. It provides the necessary content, training and infrastructure to foster a culture of credibility based on objective information presented by a recognized unbiased source and following international "Open Data" standards of transparency.
In this way, Open Development Cambodia addresses urgent areas of concern including: deforestation, land grabbing, water/food security, access to information, and freedom of expression. It directly challenges critical, debilitating threats to data transparency. It aggregates a database of maps, reports, latest news and innovative visuals to objectively reveal the interrelated environmental and social implications of economic development in Cambodia. Its ultimate objective is responsible stewardship and fairer allocation of these resources. The network of entities engaged in advocacy and analysis add to and share from it, creating a holistic, and compelling view of the social, environmental and economic impacts of resource decisions. The objective data and site neutrality is intended to encourage business and government interested in resource allocation to volunteer their data too. The next phase of this project is developing simililar initiatative in other countries functioning as a network.