A new report launched at Davos last week proposes a framework of guiding principles and actions to ensure that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) delivers sustainable and resilient infrastructure investment.
The BRI is the world’s largest programme of investment in infrastructure, spanning more than 70 countries and two-thirds of the world’s population. Development on such a scale offers tremendous opportunities to build sustainable, resilient infrastructure systems, but to achieve sustainable outcomes, all parties will need act.
‘Greening the Belt and Road Initiative’ was prepared by WWF in partnership with HSBC and with academic input from the ECI’s Jim Hall, doctoral student Xi Hu and former doctoral student Julian Kirchherr. The report sets out the risks and opportunities associated with BRI, and offers a series of recommendations for sustainable investment.
The recommendations include: limiting investments to sustainable infrastructure which complies with environmental standards, best practice and regulations, and alongside stakeholder involvement, transparency and monitoring of impacts; to aim to invest in future-proofed environmentally friendly infrastructure; and to avoid development which would negatively impact natural habitats. The report also makes recommendations to the financial sector to integrate sustainability in decision making; scale up sustainable infrastructure and demonstrate the business opportunities from stustainable approaches.
The ECI are founders in the Oxford International Infrastructure Consortium (OXIIC), established to foster partnerships between international stakeholders on infrastructure. The OXIIC hosted two global meetings on Global infrastructure in 2015 and 2016. The latter conference addressed global integration of the Belt and Road initiative with leading thinkers across academia, international organisations, government, business and the investment industry.
"The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as the largest infrastructure initiative ever, provides a significant opportunity for greening many emerging economies around the world. Our report is a first attempt to outline principles and initiatives that may help to leverage the BRI as an opportunity"
Dr Julian Kirchherr, Project Lead, Former ECI student and Assistant Professor for Sustainable Business at Ultrecht University, the Netherlands.