By Al Bahits
This proyect very clear as China stamdard. Intrastructural projects of Belt and Road initiative (BRI) are mounting concerns over its potental impacts on biodiversity and the environment. These infrastructural development and energy projects have the potential to threaten the biological diversity in Southeast Asia region. in China, environmental regulations and enforcement are improving Do theyreally adhere to these improved standards outside China also?
In 2013. China launched the BRI with the so called aim to sustain China's global “economic cooperation". However, the results show that actually this was aimed to boost China's influence and hold in the regions One of the major and direct side effects of this project on which probably nobody had talked much was the possible environmental impacts of the BRI. Direct impacts associated with major infrastructural corridors, have been identified as posing threats to biodiversity. Infrastructural developments could negatively affect the atmosphere, hydrosphere geosphere and biosphere, impacting thesustenance of many living things.
Southeast Asia is one of the major places of intense biodiversity and home to numerous threatened species both plants and animal kingdom not found anywhere else in the world. There are very likely chances that the countres in Southeast Asia, would plunge in economic debt as well as completely destroying its flora and fauna China's energy projects and the natural resource extractive industries contribute much ofthe China's investments into Southeast Asia.
After the launch of the BRI, energy construction contracts and investments have increased significantly. Chinas investments and contracts in energy are mostly in fossil fuels, causing much environmetal destruction Two, out of the five countries with the largest investments in coal giobally, are in Southeast Asia: Indonesia and the Philippines. These projects will lock these countries into fossil-dependent future for decades. Moreover, large hydropower plant projects in Myanmar and Lao PDR are also threatening the regional ecosystem by diverting the course of important rivers (and changing natural flow regimes) such as theIrawaddy and the Mekong, which will in tum affect the livelihoods of nearby communities
Such construction and digging activities will immensely disturb the balance of the eco- system that can never be regained.A number of recent studies have identified some of the potential environmental impacts attached to BRI developments, especially in relation to biodiversity. Direct impacts from infrastructural projects, in particular, transport infrastructure, will cause loss of land due to transport projects, pollution, global warming. Increased wildlife mortality from displacement and road accidents and ease in illegal poaching. Research indicates that greater sea traffic from marine routes will also increase the movement of species and pollution.
The impacts of BRI infrastructure development on biodiversity is likely to be greater in Southeast Asia, as the region enjoys high biodiversity As a consequence of this fact and weak governance systems, it may transform to a major hub for illegal wildlife trade. The massive expansion of transport networks under the BRI, may increase negative impactson the natural habitat of wild species in the whole region.
In addition to the direct and indirect impacts from infrastructural developments, any increase in economic activities under BRI, will have negative environmental impacts due to increased pollution, including greenhouse gases and waste. If BRI countries continue with their current carbon-intensive growth models, it is likely that BRI investment will cause a dramatic growth in olobal emissions. Possibilities of the potential relocation of polluting industries from China to countries with weaker environmental and labour standards, are very high.
In China, environmental requlations and enforcement are improving. The question is whether Chinese companies and China-funded projects operating outside China, adhere to these improved standards This is a legitimate concern since some Chinese firms purportedly misrepresent the feasibility or sustainability of infrastructure projects in countries, where weak institutions and bad governance prevail. Some BRI countries have strengthened local regulations and direct BRI investments to the areas of need, spelling out conditions for BRI plans (i.e, Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar). But, some damage is certain. It can be more or less.
A key concern in less developed nations in
Southeast Asia with weak governance and corruption, is that BRI infrastructure projects
would tend to affect existing power structures, greatly try to have access to the
higher administrative levels and, thus, have control over territory and people with out the
knowledge of the concerned people. Stakeholders may not be consulted or included in
the planning and greatly increasing their chances of displacement without
compensation. In Myanmar, infrastructural projects
are implemented between Chinese firms, Sino Burmese business elites and the Myanmarmilitary, often without the participation of ethnic minority community leaders which in turnpromotes resource grabs and displacement.
Even though governments across the world are rushing to be part of the BRI, the BRI isconceptually unclear, difficult to pin down and examples of good environmental and socialpractices have yet to materialize. This is another issue whether it is giving economic advancement to any place. The governments will have to equally think about the forestcover and natural habitat to the living things.
There is also still great debate in the media and literature on whether BRI is a debt trap or a programme that opens up unprecedented opportunities. Since western nations including Italy, UK and New Zealand participate in the BRI, there are questions about how these nations will manage BRI projects and influence the social and environmental Sustainability of BRI projects, given their commitment to tougher environmental and social standards around infrastructural developments.
Whatever it be, the civilization is going to lose
some exquisite species of flora and fauna. The responsibility to protect such treasure is
on the respective government. China would be least interested on such matters, as it is
not going to lose anything. The respective governments should not take unilateral decision
on such matter, but should include the general public, civil society, students etc.
into their planning. Still there is time to change
the situation and save the country and region from such stigma.
Jakarta, February, 23rd, 2020