Story | 22 Feb, 2019

Chinese Delegation Studying Belt and Road Initiative Calls for Environmental Safeguards along CPEC

A delegation of experts from the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) met with key stakeholders connected with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and called for measures to ensure environmental safeguards along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), primarily CPEC in Pakistan as BRI’s first major initiative.

The delegation, hosted by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and coordinated by the Ministry of Climate Change was led by Mr. Art Hanson, CCICED International Chief Senior Advisor & Former Director Institute of Sustainable Development, Canada, and visiting Pakistan as part of a Special Policy Study that assesses the BRI in the context of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Ms. Aban Marker Kabraji and Mr. Art Hansen informed the participants about an overview of the study and purpose of delegation underscoring the need for environmental safeguards along the CPEC. Stakeholders at the meeting hailed mainly from the Ministry of Climate Change, the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms, donors, embassies, IUCN members, civil society and Chinese private sector.

The meeting was chaired by Mr. Malik Amin Aslam, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Climate Change. The Advisor placed special emphasis on aligning the economic vision of BRI with that of the Government of Pakistan in order to improve energy efficiency and environmental governance along the route. He presented his vision of China Pakistan Green Economic Corridor. He further briefed the participants about the current government’s priorities: coalition for Green Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), renewables and Clean Green Pakistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Aban Marker Kabraji, Regional Director IUCN Asia and Director, Regional Hub for Asia-Oceania, in her capacity as the International Co-Team leader of the SPS, explained that “CCICED is a unique organization that has championed the environment and sustainable development for over 26 years. With endorsement from the Government of China as a high-level policy advisory body and a leader of China’s State Council as the Chairperson, the CCICED solicits the advice of eminent Chinese and international high level officials, experts and scholars. Ms. Kabraji also provided an overview of Belt and Road Initiative, explaining that it closely matches the quest for realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Mr. Art Hanson, CCICED International Chief Senior Advisor & Former Director IISD, built on this further, presenting the SPS objectives of achieving a greater understanding of the ongoing BRI investment projects in Pakistan through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) while assessing the local demand for sustainable development. The SPS aims to enhance international cooperation on ecological and environmental protection and facilitate green development that will provide more green public products for Pakistan as well as the international community.

Mr. Zhao Lijian, Deputy Chief of Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, provided an insight into the significance of CPEC in the BRI initiative and the need to implement sustainable economic growth practices. He shared various initiatives of the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan in line with the priorities of the current government.

In his remarks, Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan added that in addition to integrated development projects, “CPEC encompasses environment and biodiversity conservation along the route. To match this effort and become a collaborative partner on this front, IUCN is scaling up its work with governments, industry and civil society to ensure that biodiversity conservation and environmental issues are fast tracked into the mainstream initiative.”

Given that the Ministry of Planning and Development Reform is tasked with streamlining CPEC projects in the country, a presentation was made by Dr. Naureen Adnan, Policy Head of the Centre of Excellence on CPEC about various initiatives taken by the government of Pakistan. This was followed by an interactive Q&A session moderated by Ms. Kabraji and Mr. Malik Amin Aslam.