Is foreign investment truly a force for good?

by Zafirah Mohamed Zein

Foreign direct investment has been heralded as a tool for fueling economic growth in developing countries like Cambodia. But its impact on local livelihoods and ecosystems leaves us questioning whether it is all that it’s made out to be. 


What is FDI?
Why is FDI important to Cambodia?
What makes Cambodia ripe for foreign investment?
Caught in the clutches of its biggest investor
Scroll to explore
Driven from the coast

A sign bars visitors from the beach unless they are guests at Independence Hotel at Sihanoukville’s Independence Beach on November 30, 2020. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)

Shop owner Yang sells her wares from under a bridge after workers kicked her out from a spot along the road above, she said on December 1, 2020 in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nob district. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)

Loss of traditional livelihoods

A fisherman drives his boat past the Kampong Samaki community fishery, with members saying he was carrying illegal nets, in Kampot’s Kounsat commune on August 25, 2021. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)

Truck tracks and sand cut through a strip of mangrove forest near the IGB (Cambodia) sandfilling site, in Kampot’s Toek Chhou district on August 26, 2021. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)

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Large developments inevitably devastate the environment
Are foreign investors just exporting their dirty deeds?
So, can FDI-driven development be sustainable?
Disclaimer: Our stories have been researched and fact-checked to the best of our abilities. Should you spot mistakes, inaccuracies, or have queries about our sources, please drop us an e-mail at
In collaboration with
Open Development Cambodia / Partnership

Open Development Cambodia (ODC) is an ‘open data’ website, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. It does not promote any particular perspective, agenda, or bias other than providing objective information about Cambodia and its development. ODC makes complete and reliable data and information publicly available for everyone and presents it in user-friendly and understandable formats. The ODC hopes that the site and the data will facilitate research and communication between the public, private companies, civil society, and governments.

Cover illustration / Munirah Mansoor
Map visualisation / Bianchi Dy
Data / Open Development Cambodia
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