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Coalition will work toward green Belt, Road

Zheng Jinran
Updated: May 16,2017 8:10 AM     China Daily

International students from Tsinghua University in Beijing attend the introductory session of the Coalition for Green Development on the Belt and Road on May 15. More than 50 organizations expressed an interest in participating in April.[Photo/China Daily]

China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and the United Nations Environment Programme are jointly establishing an international coalition to work toward the sustainable development of the Belt and Road Initiative, UN officials said on May 15.

The Coalition for Green Development on the Belt and Road will build an international platform to share the environment policies and experiences among the countries involved in the Belt and Road, and promote wide cooperation, Zhang Shigang, China country coordinator of UN Environment, said on May 15 at the introductory meeting of the coalition.

The coalition will support putting together an ecological environmental data platform related to the Belt and Road and encourage businesses to play active roles in the green development of the countries taking part in the initiative, Zhang said.

The open and inclusive coalition will be “turned into one of the important venues for the global efforts to deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, he said.

China’s related authorities, including the ministries of environmental protection and foreign affairs, and the National Development and Reform Commission, have endorsed the coalition, but its specific structure, operational mode and timing of implementation have not been decided.

The coalition and other efforts like the data platform have been listed among the measures China plans to achieve toward the realization of the 2030 Agenda, President Xi Jinping said in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on May 14.

The UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda in September 2015. It lists nine sustainable development goals and aims to “build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”.

“The objective of the coalition is to mobilize resources and expertise that will unleash the full potential of the Belt and Road Initiative to drive a new round of globalization-one that is green and fair,” Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, said in his speech on May 14.

He said over 50 organizations, businesses, investors and other stakeholder groups expressed their strong interests in taking part in such a coalition during consultation meetings in April held in Beijing and Geneva, Switzerland.

Along with the five areas of Belt and Road cooperation-policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people-the coalition is expected to work to promote its greening process, he said.

For example, the coalition could promote green trade such as conducting eco-labeling and certification, in response to the growing demand for environmentally friendly goods and services.

“It’s quite cheering to see the building of such an international coalition with encouraging measures for companies, which allow us to work smoother in environmental protection in the world,” said Wang Wenbiao, chairman of Elion Resources Group, which has participated into the coalition.

He said he would like to expand his efforts to bring to more countries in the initiative the methods his company uses to transform deserts into fertile land in China.

“Within three to five years, we will invest 100 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) in projects of environmental protection, restoration and building tourism cities in these countries,” he said.