grantees » Kanal Khiev

Kanal Khiev, Cambodia

Kanal is an intelligent and lively young legal practitioner dedicated to promoting social and environmental justice throughout Cambodia. He is a student at Chulalonkorn University completing a master’s program in Southeast Asian Studies, specializing in environmental issues within the Mekong region and the cross-border impacts of development projects. Outside of school, Kanal also has extensive real world experience. He has worked for Samreth Law Group in Phnom Penh, where he assisted lawyers in collecting evidence on human rights cases, conducted field investigations and interviewed clients.  He also has experience working for Legal Aid of Cambodia and the Cambodian Defender Project, where he helped bring justice to children in conflict with the law.

With his JWH Initiative grant, Kanal conducted in-depth research to gain more understanding of public participation in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes in Cambodia. Considering the current lack of human resources in this field, this thesis research project enabled Kanal to develop the skills necessary to establish himself as an expert in this sector. Kanal focused specifically on interviews with local populations of the Kampenh commune, where a power plant is being constructed, to evaluate how the community is affected and if project developers are adhering to environmental codes.Kanal interviewed local NGOs, the Ministry of Environment, and EIA consultants involved in this project, then compiled the results into a master’s thesis on The Gap Between Policy and Practice of Public Participation in Cambodia: A Case Study of The Stung Hav Coal Fired Power Plant in Sihanoukville Province. His main findings confirmed that projects such as this in Cambodia do not meet international standards of legal best practice, and could benefit greatly from increased participation from the public and key stakeholders in the region. Kanal said his proudest moment of the project was when local community members asked him, ‘when will you come back again?’ Kanal says, “From my point of view, the reaction really inspired me to continue my work with this community. I hope to try my best to advocate against this [power plant] project by working with this community as well as policymakers”.

After graduating from the Masters program at Chulalongkorn University, Kanal plans to use his experience working at a public law firm in Cambodia on EIA projects, and hopes to start a PhD program sometime in the near future. With his big aspirations and background in the fields of law and the environment, Kanal will make a significant contribution to the development of stronger legal protection for vulnerable communities and their environments in Cambodia and the greater Mekong region. To other aspiring environmental leaders, Kanal advocates “saying yes” to failure. “No one is born a leader, but we can all learn to be leaders”, he says, and encourages all of us to learn from our mistakes as we continue on our individual paths towards making a difference in the world.  



Jerry Kanal


Skype: jerrycnx2010

Nominated by

Sabrina Gyorvary:  Mekong School - EarthRights International:  Thailand.