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ClientEarth Communications

22nd December 2021


Green finance and environmental management in the Belt and Road

ClientEarth co-organised a workshop for key financial institutions and enterprises involved in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on December 21-22.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the world’s largest infrastructure development programme, covering over 60 countries and including projects worth an estimated 448 billion USD between 2014 and 2018.

While the BRI provides opportunities for many developing countries to build infrastructure, there are concerns about the potential environmental impact.

These concerns have been acknowledged by the Chinese authorities, and efforts are now being made to create safeguards and environmental standards for Chinese investments abroad. Chinese president Xi Jinping’s announcement in September 2021 that China would stop funding coal plants and ramp up investment in renewables, was a significant step towards greening Chinese overseas investments.

The two-day workshop included two distinct events. The first event was a training session aiming to facilitate knowledge-sharing among Chinese financial institutions and enterprises investing in overseas projects in the BRI countries.

The second event was a seminar on the alignment of the two main frameworks for greening the BRI: the government-led Green Development Guidance (or traffic light system), for BRI projects, and the sector-led Green Investment Principles.

ClientEarth has contributed to the development of the traffic light system, in cooperation with the BRI International Green Development Coalition (BRIGC), since its inception in 2019. The seminar discussed ways to further strengthen implementation through both voluntary and top-down measures.

At the opening of the online event, head of ClientEarth in China Dimitri de Boer emphasised that the event is very timely: “Following President Xi's pledge to stop building coal, the focus is now on rapidly stepping up renewable energy deployment. China's financial institutions are actively making this transition now.”

The workshop was attended by representatives from some of China’s largest financial institutions, including China Development Bank, China Exim Bank, China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure), Silk Road Fund, Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and China International Capital Corporation, as well as institutions including China International Contractors’ Association, the China Renewable Energy Engineering Institute, and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

The list of speakers included Guo Jing, President of the BRI International Green Development Coalition, Ma Jun, Chairman of the China Green Finance Committee, Erik Solheim, former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Violante di Canossa, head of policy and research team of UNDP China, Prof. Ferhat Karaca, national construction expert & Associate Professor of Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan, Boldoo Magvan, Acting CEO of Mongolian Sustainable Finance Association (MSFA), and Christoph Nedopil Wang, Director of Green Finance & Development Center and Associate Professor at Fudan University.

The workshop was the last in a series of events held over the course of 2021 as part of the “Harmonisation and Capacity Building for Green Finance in Belt and Road Investments” project. ClientEarth is an implementing partner in this project, alongside the Beijing Institute of Finance and Sustainability and the BRIGC. The project is funded by the UK Partnership for Accelerated Carbon Transition (UK PACT), a capacity-building programme funded by the UK Government, supporting countries around the world to accelerate their climate change mitigation efforts.