The Belt and Road Initiative

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a top-level design of foreign policy proposed by China’s President Xi in 2013. In order to achieve the joint development in Eurasian countries, BRI developed multifold cooperation and placed an emphasis on the area of infrastructure. However, as a result of its environmental unfriendly industry structure, China’s industries that are involved in the B&R are likely to be resource intensive and pollution intensive, making a pessimistic impact on B&R countries’ sustainable development. To this end, we set up a series of studies focusing on the green cooperation and its support system in BRI.

First, we interpreted the necessity of green BRI from the perspectives of China’s motivation as well as B&R countries’ backgrounds. The data review of B&R countries’ economy, policy, energy use, environment, and ecology indicators showed that, B&R countries are facing dual pressures of economic development and environmental degradation. Taking the emerging economies as the main body, B&R countries are calling for the consideration of environmental protection in economic development, especially in the cooperation of BRI.

Second, we focus on the benefit assessment of green investment in BRI. In order to involve the consideration of environmental externality into BRI’s investment decision, this study tries to provide a practical assessment model for financing institutions to evaluate the extra benefits and costs of green investments. In addition, we will pay more attention on the third part certification and information disclosure, which are essential for the development of BRI’s green finance.

What is the Belt Road Initiative?

In 2013, The Government of China announced its vision for the creation of the 21st century Silk Road and momentum around this massive international infrastructure development program has been building ever since. The new Silk Road program, termed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is a significant international initiative with global support and investment.  Total estimated investment in BRI are reportedly on the scale of US$1 trillion dollars.  This effort in many ways is a continuation and acceleration of China’s ongoing investment around the world.  

According to the Belt and Road Portal website, there are currently 68 countries involved, though other sources report only 65 countries.  The BRI currently includes infrastructure projects such as: roads and highways, trains, energy infrastructure (power stations, wind farms, oil pipelines etc.), ports, extractive industry infrastructure (mines, logging), and information technology infrastructure. This effort may expand over time. More information can be found here.


Greening development investments

Coordinated by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and Duke Kunshan University, this effort is focused on collecting and assessing biodiversity data to understand where new infrastructure development should be located to protect biodiversity by designating  areas that should be avoided because of their high-value biodiversity habitat, areas where mitigation for impacts should be included, and areas where development should be encouraged because biodiversity impact is low. The team is also exploring how to communicate biodiversity conservation in the face of infrastructure development to stakeholders and decision makers in China and BRI countries. They also are hosting an event with the Africa Initiative on campus.

Project leads: Contacts Elizabeth Losos, Ph.D.; Lydia Olander, Ph.D.; Sara Mason; Binbin Li;


The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and Africa Initiative are hosting an event and dialog “Avoiding Roadkill: How to minimize the biodiversity impact of Chinese infrastructure expansion in Africa

Webinar: Rose Niu, Chief Conservation Officer, The Paulson Institute

Observation and inference from participation in building ecological civilization in China

Webinar: Junjie Zhang, Director and Associate Professor Environmental Research Center, Masters of Environmental Policy Program, Duke Kunshan University.

Towards a Green Belt and Road