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Post-COVID Sustainable Recovery Perspectives for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Oxford University Silk Road Society

Summer 2021

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Building Back A Better CPEC

July 2021

Oxford University Silk Road Society's policy report, 'Building Back A Better CPEC', provides multi-dimensional perspectives and solutions to leveraging COVID-19 recovery as a window of opportunity to promote the long-term sustainable growth of CPEC and Pakistan.


The full report is available below. 

Our report sections

Building Back A Better CPEC

Sabriyah Saeed

The discourse surrounding efforts to confront ecological destruction and to avoid catastrophe has been dominated by the notion of sustainable development, primarily perceived as a Western solution. China’s answer to these challenges is Ecological Civilization, a core concept within Chinese politics, and is increasingly presented, not only as a response to environmental degradation in China but also as a global vision to be implemented throughout the BRI.


Greening the CPEC through the Chinese Vision of Ecological Civilization

Krittika Uniyal

Whilst COVID green recovery packages have encouraged a directional shift of the economy towards sustainable growth by providing opportunities for people in Pakistan, there are also social and environmental risks that complicate these very projections of sustainability.


Recovery Packages: the Sustainability Risks and Opportunities in People- focussed Projects

Bushra Elmoussati

The development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor may contribute to environmental degradation, financial burdens, and social inequality. Debt- for environment (DFE) swaps can provide an innovative incentivisation scheme to holistically address these issues by unifying the dual objectives of industrial development and environmental sustainability. DFE swaps, however, must be highly sensitive to adverse outcomes, including exacerbated social inequality, inadequate scale, and inefficient implementation.

Debt-for-Environment Swaps: the Path to a Fairer, Greener CPEC?

Amelia Jeffery

Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are an important element of CPEC Phase 2. Given that COVID-19 has devastated many consumer-driven sectors in Southeast Asia, the focus is now likely to be on growth via industrial activity, making the development of SEZs a top priority for Pakistan in its quest for economic recovery.

Madeleine Lusted

Shaping Economic and Social Sustainability: the Future of Special Economic Zone Policy and Implementation in Pakistan

The rapid growth of CPEC has raised concerns in relation to political tension, debt sustainability, and the environmental impact of large-scale infrastructure projects. An increase
in investment through international multilateral banks has been proposed as a way to mitigate these issues. With their presence in Pakistan only likely to rise, this study analyses the environmental frameworks of two such banks -the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) -to evaluate how their frameworks can be improved to better alleviate the challenges facing CPEC.

Multilateral investment: a Sustainable Way Forward for CPEC?

Callum Coleman

The extent to which successfully phasing-out coal can work within Pakistan, given China’s massive investment into coal plants in CPEC, is debatable. This chapter specifically analyses the opportunities and challenges of coal phasing-out along CPEC projects within the context of COVID-19 recovery and the impetus of resulting economic stimulus packages.

The Role COVID-19 Recovery in 32 Accelerating Pakistan’s Coal Investment Phase-out

Yang Yang


Sabriyah Saeed

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