Over 260 CSOs call on Chinese actors to ensure COVID-19 financial relief be allocated to high quality, not high-risk Belt and Road investments
On April 29, 2020, Friends of the Earth US joined over 260 civil society organizations in calling on Chinese actors to ensure that COVID-19 related financial relief goes towards high quality — not high risk — overseas investments. Signed by groups from Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and more, the international call was in response to a February 28, 2020 Ministry of Commerce announcement which pledged that COVID-19 related financial relief should “use development financing to support the high quality and cooperative” Belt and Road projects, and not those which violated local laws or were already mired in pre-existing environmental, social, financial, or other high risks.
Addressed to China’s Ministry of Commerce, the international statement included examples of 60 Chinese overseas investments which should not be eligible for financial relief due to longstanding risks and controversies. Projects ranged across all sectors and geographies, such as coal, hydropower, mining, infrastructure, oil, to gas developments occurring across the world from the Amazon to the Arctic. For each project, a supplementary profile documenting its various risks and controversies was also provided.
The international statement captures growing international concern regarding how Chinese development finance can do its part in successfully addressing the COVID-19 crisis without exacerbating environmental, social, climate, biodiversity, or other risks. As the world continues to meet the challenges of COVID-19, identifying and ensuring that development finance goes towards sustainable, high quality investments — rather than those which aggravate environmental drivers of negative social, climate, biodiversity, or public health impacts — is needed more than ever.