BRI expected to do more to put greening principles into practice to ensure sustainability: French expert

Updated: September 21, 2020 Source: Belt and Road Portal
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Dr. Sébastien Treyer

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which was proposed by China in 2013, is more than an instrument of connectivity and trade exchanges, but also a driver of the transformation of societies and economies in countries and regions along the route, said an expert with a French research institute.

Over the past seven years, the BRI has developed a series of commitments and principles related to the greening of the BRI, which is “important for crucial sustainability issues in our current times,” Sébastien Treyer, the executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, told the Belt and Road Portal in a recent interview.

The 2019 Belt and Road Forum was a “milestone” in terms of the formulation of the principles of greening the BRI, Treyer said.

During the forum, a series of cooperative documents was signed on joint efforts in green development, highlighting the BRI’s specific focus on sustainability, according to a report released by the Xinhua News Agency.

Academic reports published by institutions such as the Tsinghua Center for Finance and Development and the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development are “extremely positive signals” for developing policies and building capacity to promote the timely and precise implementation of the BRI greening principles, Treyer noted.

It is expected that more efforts will be made to conduct objective assessments of the implementation and monitoring of the BRI greening principles and evaluation of their successes, failures and limitations, he said, noting that this is to ensure “the cooperation between countries on these principles becomes a real learning process.”

The COVID-19 crisis showed that the resilience of the global economy relies not only on efficient connectivity, but also on diversified sourcing strategies to avoid depending on one supplier, Treyer said.

This is where “BRI projects could be an extremely useful case to be studied and discussed”, especially during the post pandemic period when countries will be driven to work together toward recovery, according to Treyer.

BRI can have a decisive impact on the development pathways of countries along the routes and on the norms and standards of the global financial sector, in the sense that countries are seeking to transform their economy to a mode that fits the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations (UN), he said.

According to the UN, Agenda 2030 represents “bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path.” It contains 17 sustainable development goals and 169 targets that will stimulate action over the 15 years after 2016, when the Agenda was put into place.

Treyer said that countries along the BRI routes, which are struggling to determine their transformation pathway toward the 2030 Agenda, can be benefited through their interactions with the Chinese financial and technical operators, who “play a key role” in formulating a reference case for countries across the world.

Zooming in on the cooperation between China and Europe during the post pandemic period, Treyer said that both Chinese and European “ public authorities have clearly announced that the reconstruction after the COVID crisis will be anchored in a vision of transition towards environmental sustainability.”

The two parts should invest in cooperation and joint innovation towards greening the economy, not only to benefit domestic economies, but also to foster coordinated and efficient green recovery in other countries along the BRI route, according to Treyer.

IDDRI is a Paris-based policy research institute focusing on sustainable development and a participant of the Belt and Road Studies network.

Treyer joined the institute in 2010 and has been executive director since 2019. He is also Chairman of the Scientific and Technical Committee of the French Global Environment Facility and was in charge of foresight studies at the French Ministry of the Environment.

Editor: 于慧宸