The Central Asia Way
Central Asia is in need of development, energy, and infrastructure, and the BRI can offer these. However, as a region facing transboundary disputes, food and water security problems, and corruption, stakeholders must put in place regulations and incentives to ensure the BRI also accounts for the long-term health of people and environment.
In partnership with the Green BRI Centre, Oxford University Silk Road Society’s policy report 'The Central Asia Way' analyses the social and environmental impacts, risks, and opportunities for regional partners and China as BRI projects continue to expand into Central Asia.
From biodiversity and debt for nature swaps to blockchain anti-corruption and the wildlife trade, this report maps out the intersection of BRI with Central Asia’s development path, and argues that an opportunity is open to explore innovative responses to the challenges of green governance.
The full report is available below, with a foreword from the Founding Director of the Green BRI Center, Dr. Christoph NEDOPIL WANG.
Our report sections
The Central Asian Way: the road ahead for environmental and social sustainability in the BRI
Central Asia is in need of development, energy, and infrastructure, and the BRI canoffer these. However, as a region facing transboundary disputes, food and water security problems, and corruption, regulations and incentives must be put in place toensure the BRI also accounts for the long-term health of people and environment.
Energizing Kazakhstan: Renewable Energy Opportunities
Kazakhstan's energy grid has not been modernised since its independence from the Soviet Union and is falling into a state of dereliction and disrepair. With its sights set on 50 percent renewable energy by 2050 and sustainable solar and wind capabilities, Kazakhstan could be a mode for green energy development. Funding from the BRI offers a unique opportunity to rebuild Kazakhstan's energy grid using renewable energy.
The Belt and Road Initiative will inevitably affect the environment, including biodiversity. Worryingly, the BRI finance suffers from a lack of best practice safeguards for biodiversity protection – a critical shortfall when partnering with low-income biodiverse developing countries such as Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia.
Ready for some action? The conservation capacity of Kyrgyzstan and China
Belt and Road Kill? Preventing Illegal Trade in Snow Leopards
The BRI offers the Central Asian range states of Panthera Uncia a once in a generation chance to bring economic opportunity to a region often overlooked in development. Like all projects of this scale, the ramifications for the area’s biodiversity, and in particular its flagship species Panthera Uncia remains hard to determine. However, previous foreign interventions such as the War in Afghanistan offer us a roadmap for development that benefits both the snow leopard as well as the region’s people.
Where do all roads lead? Corruption and the BRI in Central Asia
Corruption is rife in Central Asia, and questionable business practices within Chinese investment have further exacerbated this problem, damaging both the effectiveness and the prestige of the Belt and Road Initiative. Large-scale infrastructure projects provide the clearest example of the negative impact of corruption, while modern technologies such as cryptocurrencies and smart-contracting offer hope that the scale of corruption can be decreased in the future.
How Protest is Posing a Growing Threat to the BRI
Discontent and activism against BRI initiatives pose financial risks and spell potential public image problems for China and host countries. Understanding the social and economic motivations of communities who protest and how to prevent future mobilisations is essential to the success of the BRI in Central Asia.
The Green BRI Center
The Green Belt and Road Initiative Center (Green BRI Center) provides research, analyses, policy engagement, capacity building and intelligence on policies, economics, environment, sustainability and green finance of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – also known as Silk Road Initiative.
The Green BRI Center is part of the International Institute for Green Finance (IIGF) of the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) in Beijing, and was founded in 2019 with Dr. Christoph NEDOPIL WANG as the inaugural director.
Find out more about the Green BRI Center, and read their latest reports here: