A Decade of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Addressing Environmental Implications and Charting the Path Ahead
• 大类 : 环境科学与生态学 - 1区
• 小类 : 工程：环境 - 2区
• 小类 : 环境科学 - 1区
In 2013, China inaugurated the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), marking a pivotal development in international relations. Since its inception, the BRI has played a critical role in facilitating cross-border interaction, fostering economic integration, and stimulating global trade. Positioned as a mechanism to unite both developed and developing economies, the BRI endeavours to establish an open and inclusive network. As of December 2023, the initiative has garnered the participation of over 150 countries, representing approximately 75% of the global population and over half the world’s GDP. Over the past decade, the BRI has overseen the implementation of more than 3,000 infrastructure projects, spanning diverse domains such as railways, ports, highways, and power grids, extending from Southeast Asia to Latin America (Silk Road Briefing, 2023).
Furthermore, the initiative has led to the establishment of over 30 overseas economic cooperation zones, fostering local industrialization. According to the World Bank, the BRI has yielded a 4.1% increase in trade for participating countries, attracted an additional 5% in foreign investments, and boosted the GDP of low-income nations by 3.4%. Consequently, the global GDP share of emerging and developing economies has experienced a notable rise of 3.6% from 2012 to 2021, a testament to the transformative impact of the BRI (Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Grenada, 2023).
While the primary objective of the BRI revolves around promoting trade, investments, and economic growth, these ambitions are accompanied by challenges stemming from increased demands for natural resources, urbanization, and threats to biodiversity (Narain et al., 2020; Fang et al., 2021; Wang et al., 2022). The increased demands for resources, coupled with the generation of waste and the potential harm to biodiversity, have far-reaching consequences that extend far beyond the geographical scope of Belt and Road regions.
The decisions and actions taken by participating countries in addressing these challenges carry profound implications for sustainable development, environmental conservation, and the well-being of both present and future generations. Collaborative efforts amongst policymakers, scientists, scholars, and stakeholders are imperative to navigate these challenges through innovative strategies and pioneering research. Recognizing the interconnected nature of these issues allows states and institutions to devise comprehensive solutions that transcend national boundaries, fostering genuine, cross-border sustainable development.
Against this background, we invite researchers and practitioners to contribute original research, review articles, and case studies that shed light on the latest advancements, strategies, and best practices surrounding the environmental impact along the Belt and Road.
The special issue invites papers on, but not limited to, the following topics:
The SDGs in BRI countries: The interface(s) and interaction of the BRI and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); assessing challenges, opportunities, and progress of SDGs within BRI countries.
Regional perspectives on the BRI: assessing environmental and natural resources implications of the BRI in distinct regions (e.g., BRI and sustainability in Sub Saharan Africa, South America, Central Asia).
Environmental impacts of renewable energy infrastructures in BRI countries: analyzing the environmental impacts of renewable energy systems in BRI countries, with a focus on critical mineral demand, carbon footprint and GHG reduction strategies, and risk assessment.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and big data to foster environmental sustainability in the BRI: exploring innovative applications of big data and AI in enhancing environmental practices and sustainability across BRI regions.
Natural resource use and management in BRI: investigating the stocks and flows of materials across BRI regions, measuring and promoting circular economy processes, identifying potential hotspots of resource extraction and use, and proposing strategies for sustainable materials management.
Environmental footprints of BRI countries: evaluating resource use, climate change, emissions, waste generation, and their nexus effects (i.e., synergies and trade-offs).
Life cycle assessment (LCA) of BRI infrastructure projects: investigating the cradle-to-grave environmental impacts of major BRI infrastructure developments (including BRI economic and industrial corridors) and exploring strategies for improvement.
Sustainable urban development in BRI regions: understanding the challenges and solutions to improve environmental standards and preserve green lands in emerging industrial, commercial, and logistic centers.
Biodiversity impacts in BRI countries: analyzing threats to terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity and soil health from industrial activities and infrastructure projects in BRI regions and providing references for designing strategies to strengthen biodiversity protection.