The actions of China’s ‘project of the century’, said to span 67 countries and be worth between eight and nine trillion dollars, will be critical to whether climate change goals and the SDG 2030 deadline – now just ten years away – are to be met. A new IDS Bulletin ‘The Belt and Road Initiative and the SDGs: Towards Equitable, Sustainable Development’, examines the impact of BRI on environmental and social standards and how it can act as a critical link to delivering the 2030 Agenda.
The new IDS Bulletin is co-edited by Professor Melissa Leach, Director of the Institute of Development Studies, Dr Jing Gu, Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies and Director of the IDS Centre for Rising Powers and Global Development, and Gong Sen, Executive Vice President of the Centre for International Knowledge on Development. It brings together eight academic articles including country case studies of the BRI and sustainable development in Myanmar, Kenya, Pakistan and Greece, and an article on the issues surrounding the so-called digital silk road.
Arguments made in the Bulletin issue include the need for communities and civil society groups directly affected by China’s BRI to have a much greater say on investment priorities and for countries in Africa and Asia to be supported to manage and prioritise China’s investment to align with their own national SDG targets.
Professor Melissa Leach, Director of the Institute of Development Studies and co-editor of the IDS Bulletin issue, says: “There are many opportunities and challenges that China’s BRI presents in relation to meeting the sustainable development goals. Critical to making sure that the BRI contributes to meeting the SDGs by 2030 is making sure that local communities and civil society – those directly affected by the Chinese BRI investments – have a greater say. Their voices need to be heard.
“International aid donors, multilateral agencies and development banks should also help build the capacity of Belt and Road affected countries in Asia and Africa to manage and prioritise Chinese investment to align with their own national sustainable development goals.”
Jing Gu, IDS Research Fellow and editor of the IDS Bulletin issue, says: “China’s Belt and Road Initiative is staggering in its global scale and ambition at a time when other countries such as the US and UK currently appear to be retreating to a more nationalist position.
“BRI has its critics but it is happening and internationally we need to engage with the reality of it and take the opportunities it presents to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and combat climate change.”
Further reading on China and sustainable development: