Pro­ject makes en­vi­ron­ment a pri­or­ity

China Daily European Weekly - - Busi­ness -

China, Africa and the UK join forces to launch the De­vel­op­ment Cor­ri­dors Part­ner­ship

by the UK Re­search Coun­cils through the Global Chal­lenges Re­search Fund.

The China com­po­nent will fo­cus on how Chi­nese in­vestors can con­trib­ute to the sus­tain­able and cli­mate-re­silient de­vel­op­ment of East Africa’s de­vel­op­ment cor­ri­dors, says Meng Han, China rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the UNEP-WCMC.

She says the pre­lim­i­nary con­sid­er­a­tion of the China com­po­nent of the pro­ject is around the South­ern Agri­cul­tural Growth Cor­ri­dor of Tanzania and the Lamu-South­ern Su­danEthiopia Trans­port Cor­ri­dor in Kenya. The ex­pec­ta­tion is that what’s learned from the two can be brought to other de­vel­op­ment cor­ri­dors and more broadly to con­trib­ute to the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of Africa.

China’s in­vest­ment in Africa has been grow­ing rapidly. Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the Min­istry of Com­merce, di­rect in­vest­ment reached about $3.1 bil­lion in 2017 — 40 times that of 2003.

Much of the in­vest­ment goes to sec­tors that have a di­rect im­pact on the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment. For in­stance, more than half of Chi­nese FDI in Africa is con­cen­trated in the con­struc­tion and min­ing sec­tors.

“This is driven by grow­ing de­mand from African coun­tries for in­fra­struc­ture as their economies de­velop, and also the de­mand in China for new growth op­por­tu­ni­ties for its abun­dant cap­i­tal,” Meng says.

China’s in­vest­ment in Africa will def­i­nitely grow. At the Beijing sum­mit of the Fo­rum on China-Africa Co­op­er­a­tion this month, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping an­nounced that Beijing would pro­vide an ad­di­tional $60 bil­lion to sup­port sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment in Africa.

“In ad­di­tion to the dy­nam­ics of Chi­nese in­vest­ment, we also rec­og­nize cli­mate change as one of the ma­jor en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors that will in­flu­ence the sus­tain­abil­ity of de­vel­op­ment in vul­ner­a­ble ar­eas of Kenya and Tanzania,” Meng says.

She adds that in ad­di­tion to the di­rect im­pact that cli­mate change may gen­er­ate for busi­nesses — for ex­am­ple, storm dam­age on in­fra­struc­ture — it can also al­ter dis­tri­bu­tion pat­terns of nat­u­ral re­source (for ex­am­ple, wa­ter) that will ul­ti­mately af­fect the dis­tri­bu­tion and be­hav­iors of wildlife, hu­mans and busi­nesses as well as the in­ter­ac­tion pat­terns among them.

The pro­ject’s African and UK part­ners are also in the process of de­vel­op­ing scop­ing pa­pers. As the an­a­lyt­i­cal work pro­gresses, the four coun­try teams will col­lab­o­rate to bring that work to­gether in a com­bined pic­ture to guide the re­search and ca­pac­ity build­ing pri­or­i­ties of the pro­ject from 2019 to 2021.

Zhang Xiang, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the China In­ter­na­tional Con­trac­tors As­so­ci­a­tion, which has about 1,500 mem­ber com­pa­nies, says that while its mem­bers par­tic­i­pate in the in­fra­struc­ture projects in Africa, more Chi­nese com­pa­nies are realizing that they need to build these projects in a sus­tain­able and green way.

“Many com­pa­nies re­al­ize they need to ap­ply win-win con­cepts, and need to be so­cially re­spon­si­ble, in­clud­ing build­ing projects with bet­ter qual­ity, re­spect­ing the rights of em­ploy­ees and pay­ing more at­ten­tion to en­ergy con­ser­va­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion.”

For ex­am­ple, when build­ing the Mom­basa-Nairobi rail­way, China Road and Bridge Corp de­vel­oped an en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment sys­tem that was com­pat­i­ble with lo­cal laws, to re­duce as much as pos­si­ble its projects’ in­flu­ence on na­ture. It de­signed pas­sage­ways and bridges for wild an­i­mals to cross the con­struc­tion site, and also strictly con­trolled the noise, dust and other pol­lu­tants.

This sets a good ex­am­ple for other Chi­nese com­pa­nies, she says.

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