In 2019, the world political and economic situation is still unclear. Protectionism continues to rise, the result of the trade war is uncertain, and the overall economic growth of the world is slowing down. This year will also be of great significance to China. Not only is this year the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, but also the sprint year for the successful completion of a well-off society. The expansion of China's middle class, the rapid development of urbanization, and the implementation and promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative have great impact for domestic and international environment and sustainable development.

Against this background, the World Resources Institute hosted “Stories to Watch 2019” in Beijing on Feb 27th, 2019. This event listed key issues concerning global environment and development in 2019, and discussed the impact and contribution of China’s “Belt and Road” and rapid urbanization to world sustainable development.

In the view of Manish Bapna, WRI Executive Vice President and Managing Director, global sustainable development in 2019 will focus on five hot topics: Shifting Political Dynamics, Climate Adaptation, Commodity Supply Chain, Green Belt and Road and the U.S. Climate Action.

Manish Bapna speaks at Stories to Watch event
  • Shifting political dynamics and sustainable development: In 2018, global emission rose by 2%, while transitions in Brazil, Mexico and Germany politics attracted world attention. How will global commitment to climate change be affected? As India and Indonesia will hold elections in April this year, how will their national policies on climate change adjust? Who will become the next president of the World Bank? Will world leaderships step up at UN Climate Summit?
  • Global climate adaption action: Ten Category-5 cyclones swept globe in 2018, which was the 2nd highest total on record. Heat waves brought drought and wildfires worldwide. The speed of sea-level rise from 1993-2015 has been nearly 3 times faster than in previous century. The Global Commission on Adaption was launched in The Hague in October 2018, and China is one of the convening countries. How will countries around the world take climate adaptation actions in the new year to cope with the adverse impacts of climate change?
  • Commodity supply chain: Nearly 50% of tropical forest loss is related to commodity production, which is the third largest source of carbon emissions in the world. How will countries deal with deforestation? Will companies make more commitments in green supply chains? What measures will China, India and other major commodity consumption countries take? Will biodiversity conservation receive more consideration and attention in commodity production and consumption?
  • Global attention to "Belt and Road": As a far-reaching global initiative, China's "Belt and Road" has attracted worldwide attention. In particular, China has proposed building “green belt and road”, attaching importance to ecological civilization. Will China introduce green development guidelines on the 2nd Belt and Road Forum? Will investment be increased in overseas renewable energy to promote low-carbon sustainable development of the countries along the route?
  • U.S. climate action: Although Trump government is still skeptical about environmental protection and sustainable development, states and cities in the United States are taking more and more active actions to deal with climate change. At present, 29 states have renewable energy standards, and 6 states have even proposed a 50-100% clean energy target. In the new year, as transport sector is a major emitter, how will electric vehicle industry develop? What will Congress do? What are candidates' attitudes towards climate change in the 2020 presidential election?

Mr. Bapna pays great attention to the green transformation of China's economy and society, especially about how to establish an effective and just way of low-carbon transformation to achieve a more inclusive and sustainable growth and reform. He believed that, by promoting ecological civilization, China could set an example for international community to learn from, accumulating experience and sharing it to the world. At the same time, it also sends a signal to the world that such a green growth mode could be successful, and thus enhance the confidence of other countries in green transformation.

Experts panel at Stories to Watch event in 2019

Stories to Watch is one of WRI’s flagship events, now in its 16th year. This year’s event was held in China for the 7th time. WRI and is partners aim to analyze potential trend and direction of sustainable development in the world and in China through convincing insights and data, and watch which factors in science, economy, policy, development and market will generate impacts on world resources and then further on human society.