Interview of Manish Bapna, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, WRI.
Originally posted on Xinhua News.
China's commitment to make the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) a green cause advancing sustainable development is admirable and far-sighted, said the deputy chief of a global research organization.
"Following through on this commitment will be good for China, for the partner countries, and for the rest of the world," Manish Bapna, executive vice president and managing director of World Resources Institute (WRI), said in a recent interview. "We see signs that China is taking this commitment seriously."
On Thursday, at a thematic forum of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF), China officially launched the International Coalition for Green Development on the Belt and Road to facilitate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through a green construction of the Belt and Road.
Under the coalition Chinese and foreign leading agencies will work closely together to conduct research and make policy recommendations on key issues as well as facilitate international dialogues.
"In the near future, the establishment of this coalition could raise the visibility and importance of green infrastructure and facilitate deeper cooperation between BRI partners," said Bapna, whose nonprofit organization was invited to the forum.
"In the long run, the world expects this coalition to become an international platform of sharing related progress and practice of the green BRI construction, as well as help produce green demonstration projects for further scaling up," he added.
Capacity building will also be part of the main work of the coalition, helping embed green development concepts into the development strategies of BRI countries to ensure that they pursue sustainable, growth-oriented solutions and technologies and have related technological and policy-making capacities.
"International cooperation and cross-country experience sharing are important in making the BRI greener," the managing director said.
At the BRF, China also launched the Belt and Road Big Data Service Platform on Ecological and Environmental Protection.
Bapna said WRI hopes that its Resource Watch platform, which displays hundreds of high-resolution geo-spatial datasets on issues ranging from forests to water scarcity and to fishing patterns, can help support BRI data services.
"We hope in the near future that new data layers on Resource Watch can display near-real time data on BRI investment patterns, down to the project level," Bapna said. "This data, gathered from Chinese investment institutions and partner countries, can show the progress of the green BRI."
"Big data offers new opportunities for tracking the progress of the BRI and ensuring that it fulfills China's commitment that investments will advance sustainable development," he added.
China has made clear its commitment to incorporate green strategies into the BRI by releasing the Guidelines on Promoting Green Belt and Road and the Belt and Road Ecological Cooperation Plan. These documents outline a vision for sustainability.
"Since the BRI is an investment initiative, greening finance is key," Bapna said.
He suggested that the BRI focus more investments on sustainable infrastructure, such as renewable energy, rail and mass transit.
A WRI research found that at least 470 billion U.S. dollars is needed to implement renewable energy commitments in 31 BRI countries that the institute analyzed. The International Finance Corporation estimates 2.4 trillion dollars in low-carbon opportunities in the transportation sector of 17 BRI countries.
Many countries are expected to update their national climate plans ahead of the 2020 deadline agreed by the international community under the Paris Agreement and are looking to see if China will create stronger incentives for financial institutions and enterprises to support a green BRI, said Bapna.
"The (Chinese) government can do so by improving the policy and regulatory environment," Bapna said.