"Green development is not just about the BRI itself, but also about the next generation and the future of our planet," said Xu Qinhua, Deputy Director of the National Institute for Development and Strategy at the Renmin University of China.
In a recent interview with the Belt and Road Portal (BRP), Xu shared her views on the connotation of the BRI green development and the path to its realization.
BRP: What is the significance of BRI green development? Why was the concept proposed?
Xu Qinhua: Building a green Silk Road not only solves China's own environmental problems, but also demonstrates China’s commitment to play a more active role in international environmental cooperation and its relentless efforts to provide green public goods to the world, such as the BRI International Green Development Coalition (BRIGC), which is a voluntary open and inclusive international network for sustainable development.
In the post-pandemic era, there is a greater need for “green” economic growth and capacity improvement for environmental and climate governance. This will likely lead to greater emphasis on green development of BRI countries.
Building a green Silk Road would help the countries achieve economic development and modernization through environment-friendly and low-carbon projects and meet their demands for green financing and technology development.
BRP: What do you think is the most important thing in building a green Silk Road?
Xu Qinhua: In my opinion, the most important thing is that countries and regions that participate in the joint building of the BRI should have a common view of building a green community with shared future.
Climate and environmental issues are among those issues that exemplify the practical value of "a community with shared future". To deal with climate change and protect the Earth's environment, participation of every country and individual in the world is necessary. No single country or individual can stay unaffected by such a global issue, nor can the problem be solved by one group or one country alone.
The foundation for the construction of the Silk Road lies in the economic sector. How countries can realize a positive correlation between their own interests and those of other countries through cooperation in the economic field is a question worth thinking about.
BRP: You mentioned that China can provide solutions in the building of a green Silk Road. What does the “Chinese solution” entail?
Xu Qinhua: My team and I have built models to verify whether sustainable technology can be employed to transform natural resources into economic growth. The results are positive.
We compared the data of OECD countries with BRI countries and China to study what levels and trends of green development each of them has and what role China can play.
The model interprets the connotation of the phrase "lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets." It means unleashing the potential of clear waters and green mountains for development through sustainable technology, investment, and management.
A series of indicators were generated via the model, which showed that China's green development level is between the level of OECD countries and that of BRI countries. Thus, China can serve as a bridge between the two in terms of investment and trade, technology transfer and talent training.
Meanwhile, we are open to cooperating with counterparts in developed countries to verify the applicability of the model.
BRP: What is the significance of the “Chinese solution” for the BRI countries?
Xu Qinhua: During the four decades of reform and opening up, China, the largest developing country, has accumulated a wealth of experience that can be used as a reference by other countries, especially the BRI countries.
However, China’s solution does not necessarily mean that it will be a perfect fit for BRI countries, nor can it guarantee total success. We are only offering our experience in the hope that it will serve as a guide for green development of BRI countries.
BRP：What is the latest progress in building a green community of shared future ?
Xu Qinhua: On June 10, China's National Energy Administration (NEA) announced the launch of works related to the Belt and Road Energy Partnership (BREP) which was officially established by 29 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and Oceania, including China, Pakistan, Algeria and Malta, during the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing in April 2019.
The Chinese government has already adopted useful practices in many areas such as policymaking and green project implementation. A large number of renewable energy projects have been launched in countries along the BRI routes in its efforts to help BRI countries accelerate their transition to efficient, clean and diversified energy supply, and promote their green infrastructure development.
The investment in renewable energy in BRI countries has also gradually increased. According to data released by the US Enterprise Public Policy Institute, China's investment in renewable energy in BRI countries has surpassed that of fossil energy in the first half of 2020.