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ClientEarth Communications

2nd April 2020

EU China Environment Project
China

Consultation on research into greening China's Belt and Road Initiative

On 27 March, ClientEarth co-hosted the First Consultation Meeting of Joint Research on “Green Development Guidance for Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Projects”, also known as the “Green Light System”, with the Secretariat of BRI International Green Development Coalition (BRIGC) and the World Resources Institute (WRI).

Over the last few months, a baseline study has been conducted to provide guidance on the assessment and classification of BRI projects in order to best recognise and address environmental and ecological risks in overseas investment. The recent consultation was to discuss progress on the study and gather expert views and opinions on the study outcomes.

The background

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims to connect Asia with Africa and Europe, with infrastructure development and investments in more than 130 countries. The BRI International Green Development Coalition (BRIGC) is working together to ensure the BRI is sustainable and environmentally friendly.

In December, the BRIGC officially launched the Joint Research on "Green Development Guidance for BRI Projects", also known as the ‘Green Light System’. The consultation with key project stakeholders was a crucial next step.

The consultation

Dimitri de Boer, Chief Representative of ClientEarth in China chaired the consulting session, which had over 50 representatives from more than ten international and domestic agencies in attendance. Representative experts and research teams from WRI, WWF, and ACEE introduced the specific goals of the baseline study, current progress and suggestions. Attendees were then invited to give their expert views and opinions on the preliminary outcomes and provide guidance to further improve the research.

Ye Yanfei, Counsel (Director-General Level) of the Policy Research Bureau of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBRC) stated the need to clarify the responsibilities of all parties in the BRI projects, recommendations on the technical standards, project classification and implementation of the Green Light System.

Fang Li, Chief Representative of WRI's Beijing Representative Office also suggested that positive inventories should be developed and implemented for different recipient countries based on China's domestic practice experience.

Ma Jun, BRIGC Advisor, Director of Centre for Finance and Development at Tsinghua University, proposed specific suggestions on the implementation and coordination of the "Green Light" System across departments and industries.

There were also comments and suggestions on the potential environmental and social risks of BRI-financed projects, as well as the means to improve the baseline study and design an effective "Green Light" System from a number of other key stakeholders.

Their guidance will now help to improve and shape the research going forwards.

The impact of COVID-19

In his opening address, Li Yonghong, Deputy Director General of Foreign Environmental Cooperation Centre (FECO), highlighted that the economic stimulus packages during and after the COVID-19 pandemic marked challenges as well as opportunities for green development on the Belt and Road. The "Green Light" System research focuses on providing green solutions and offering reference for stakeholders such as government departments, financial institutions and enterprises in China and BRI participating countries.

Erik Solheim, Convener of the Advisory Committee of BRIGC, remarked on the importance of promoting the revitalisation of the global economy and further expediting the development of a green economy after the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the "Green Light" System will help China and other countries to improve their standards of green development and jointly facilitate the construction of a green Belt and Road.

What is the BRI International Green Development Coalition?

The BRI International Green Development Coalition (BRIGC) was established in response to the advocacy of China's President Xi Jinping at the First Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May 2017. It was inaugurated jointly by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China and domestic and international partners at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April 2019. It aims to integrate the idea of green development throughout the construction of the Belt and Road, build consensus on green development and facilitate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. So far, more than 140 organisations from China and the international community have become Partners of BRIGC, covering a network of 36 countries.

Attendees of the webinar included: Erik Solheim, Convener of the Advisory Committee of BRIGC, Advisor of WRI, Ye Yanfei, Counsel (Director-General Level) of the Policy Research Bureau of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBRC), Ma Jun, BRIGC Advisor, Director of Center for Finance and Development at Tsinghua University, Zhang Jianyu, International Liaison of the Advisory Committee of BRIGC, Vice President of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and Li Yonghong, Deputy Director General of the Foreign Environmental Cooperation Center (FECO).  

 Agencies in attendance included: the Belt and Road Construction Promotion Center of National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC), the Appraisal Centre for Environment and Engineering (ACEE) of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China (MEE), the Modern Finance Research Institute of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the Tsinghua University, the Central University of Finance and Economics, the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), the Environmental Defence Fund (EDF), the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI).

This article has been adapted from the original piece posted by BRIGC.

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