China has made significant progress in greening the Belt and Road Initiative, experts said on October 26 at the Roundtable on BRI Green Development and the BRI International Green Development Coalition Policy Studies Release 2021.
"I see three milestones," said Lawrence MacDonald, vice-president for communications at World Resources Institute, listing achievements made as China forges ahead to make the initiative green.
As the latest milestone, the first part of the COP 15 United Nations Biodiversity Conference, which was held in Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan province, earlier this month "made solid progress in mainstreaming biodiversity in investment and financing", he said.
While addressing the leaders' summit of COP 15 via video link in Beijing on October 12, President Xi Jinping announced China will invest 1.5 billion yuan ($233 million) to establish the Kunming Biodiversity Fund. The fund will be used to support developing countries in biodiversity protection.
MacDonald said the announcement of China to stop building new coal-fired power plants abroad and Chinese authorities' publication of the Green Development Guidelines for Overseas Investment and Cooperation earlier this year both marked significant progress.
"These (guidelines) encourage Chinese enterprises to adopt international or Chinese green standards where these are stronger in the host country standards," he said. "The green development guidelines are enabling China to make rapid progress in improving the environmental performance of overseas projects."
He also discussed the progress of the coalition's study on the Green Development Guidance for BRI Projects.
The first phase of the research last year suggested introducing a "green light system" to evaluate BRI investments and classifying BRI projects into three categories — red, yellow and green — in accordance with their environmental performance. It also suggested establishing an incentive and punishment mechanism to guide financial institutions in accordance with environmental risks and impacts.
MacDonald said the second phase of the study suggests making it compulsory for financial institutions to establish a list of types of excluded projects. It also suggests financial institutions offer preferential financing for green projects and establish a clear grievance mechanism for people impacted by a proposed project.
Proposed by President Xi during his speech at the opening of the First Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May 2017, the BRI International Green Development Coalition was launched in April 2019.
With 150 partners from more than 40 countries, it aims to support the building of a green Belt and Road and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by promoting policy dialogue, information sharing, technology transfer and capacity building.