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CPEC 2.0

Shaping an Environmentally and Socially Sustainable China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Oxford University Silk Road Society

Spring 2021

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CPEC 2.0

April 2021

Oxford University Silk Road Society’s policy report ‘CPEC 2.0’ explores four CPEC projects (a Special Economic Zone, Coal Power Plant, Road Network, and a Hydropower Project) as case studies to illustrate and analyze their social and environmental impact on local communities.

The report highlights the issue of a lack of clear communication and transparency amongst the various stakeholders but also brings in relevant successful examples from other BRI and non-BRI projects that can help in implementing future policies for a more environmentally sustainable and socially equitable CPEC.

The full report is available below, with a foreword from our Analyst, Faryal Leghari. 

Our report sections

China Pakistan Economic Corridor 2.0

Maryam Altaf

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Within the scope of this report, the case studies explore themes of environmental sustainability and social equity by considering the opportunities and implications of four of the 88 projects planned under the CPEC. Overall, the report concludes that the availability of any reliable or updated information on the CPEC is not only sparse but also difficult to synthesize in a cohesive manner.

Azad Pattan: Clean Energy Discourse in CPEC

Zach Parsons

This article investigates the actors that pivoted the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” scope towards clean energy, using a case study of the Azad Pattan hydroelectric dam as an example. It surveys the actors involved, namely populations, private companies (Laraib Group and Gezhouba), the Pakistan and China governments, to assess the ones most responsible for the change in focus. In examining the evidence, public statements, political context and energy needs from 2018 to present, it becomes clear that the primary driver of this transition to a green CPEC was Pakistani domestic political action, rather than significant changes made by Chinese actors.


Special Economic Zones (SEZs) has played a vital role in the development of cities. Understanding the formulas for a successful SEZ is essential to the success of the Rashakai Special Econonic Zone in Pakistan's Northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province.  

Developing a Vision for the Second Phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Sean Lee

CPEC’s impact on rural women’s lifestyle change: the Sahiwal Coal Power Plant Project Initiative

Alice Politi

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has a significant impact on social sustainability. In particular, on a macro-level, the construction of Sahiwal Coal Power Plant project in Qadirabad, Punjab, Pakistan, can contribute in creating opportunities for women in the site-specific rural areas.  This can be achieved indirectly through infrastructural rural development which would consequently improve quality of life. However, on a micro-level, the project, which is built on agricultural private land, contributed to the displacement of local people, exposing the need of assessing the role of the project and its social implications.

Carbon Spillage of CPEC: A Lingering Threat to K.P.K Province of Pakistan

Abdul Wahid Khan

Pakistan has not fully considered the environmental impacts of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and this study highlights that the cutting of trees for the road construction and an exponential increase in the transportation will put Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province at a serious risk of melting of glaciers, flooding and other hazardous events due to the spillage of carbon in the environment that is already extremely fragile. This section entails the discussion of a robust plan with a focus on the future of the environment to minimise the carbon spillage of CPEC. 

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