China is financing infrastructure projects around the world – many could harm nature and Indigenous communities

Sat, 2 Oct 2021 05:57:52 +1000

Andrew Pam <xanni [at]>

Andrew Pam

"China is shaping the future of economic development through its Belt and Road
Initiative, an ambitious multi-billion-dollar international push to better
connect itself to the rest of the world through trade and infrastructure.
Through this venture, China is providing over 100 countries with funding they
have long sought for roads, railways, power plants, ports and other
infrastructure projects.

This mammoth effort could generate broad economic growth for the countries
involved and the global economy. The World Bank estimates that recipient
countries’ gross domestic product could rise by up to 3.4% thanks to Belt and
Road financing.

But development often expands human movement and economic activity into new
areas, which can promote deforestation, illegal wildlife trafficking and the
spread of invasive species. Past initiatives have also sparked conflict by
infringing on Indigenous lands. These projects were often approved without the
recognition or consent of local Indigenous communities.

In a newly published study, our team of development economists and conservation
scientists mapped the risks Chinese overseas development finance projects pose
for Indigenous lands, threatened species, protected areas and potential
critical habitats for global biodiversity conservation. We found that more than
60% of China’s development projects present some risk to wildlife or Indigenous

       *** Xanni ***
--               Andrew Pam                 Chief Scientist, Xanadu            Partner, Glass Wings               Manager, Serious Cybernetics

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