China’s ambitious vision for the Belt and the Road initiative (BRI) marks a global milestone for economic and political cooperation across Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. With more than 100 member countries accounting for around one-third of the world trade, BRI’s geographical scope is unmatched. Despite China’s vision for “green” development, BRI’s trillion-dollar infrastructure and energy projects introduce immense environmental risks. Carbon-intensive investments and recipient countries’ asymmetry in addressing environmental issues pose challenges in sustaining green development and meeting the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. Our research investigates China’s vision for green investments by gauging BRI countries’ potential to support environmentally sustainable projects. The study assesses the environmental sustainability potential (ESP) for each country’s performance on climate and energy across the “Five Connectivity Framework,” identified by the Chinese government as the BRI cooperation priority across policy, trade, finance, facilities, and people-to-people connections. The ESP index scores BRI countries across these five connectivities using key environmental indicators. The analysis also presents a case study of BRI countries along the three Asian economic corridors to provide specific recommendations and guidelines for environmental, social and governance safeguards.
- Belt Road Initiative at Duke