China: Belt & Road and the new guidelines for "Green Overseas Development"
"What China’s new guidelines on ‘green development’ mean for the Belt and Road", 18 August 2021
The “Green development guidelines for overseas investment and cooperation”, issued jointly by the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), encourages Chinese businesses to integrate green development throughout the overseas investment process. Where local standards are insufficient, they also suggest that companies should “follow international green rules and standards”. As such, they represent a step away from China’s traditional reliance on host country rules and could pave the way for the implementation of much higher standards in infrastructure projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The guidelines call for strengthening engagement with host country environmental protection organisations. They also name non-fossil energy technologies as key areas for investment.
In the project planning and evaluation phase, Chinese enterprises shall actively fulfil their environmental responsibilities, including complying with host countries’ laws and regulations, and promoting the coordinated development of the local economy and society. Chinese enterprises are encouraged to follow international common practices for the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and due diligence, and identify potential environmental risks before deciding on whether to make an investment overseas.
In the implementation phase, enterprises shall conduct ecological and environmental risk prevention measures and improve the capacity of ecological and environmental management.
Reporting and disclosure is also emphasised and Chinese enterprises are encouraged to comply with international requirements, including but not limited to the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change, Convention on Biological Diversity, 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and the Green Investment Principle for BRI. [...]