By staff reporter Liu Yi
As to the environmental issues facing countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, Solheim believes it possible to strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection. He raised the example of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway, a big infrastructure project in Kenya contracted by Chinese companies. Although bypassing a national park was unavoidable, constructors of the project managed to reserve migratory passages for wild animals. “This is a win-win outcome,” Solheim said. “It shows that economic prosperity and a good environment can be enjoyed at the same time.”
The Chinese government gives priority to green development as a key component of advancing the Belt and Road Initiative. Having signed an MOU with UN Environment to this effect last December, the central government also issued in late April a guiding document promoting the green Belt and Road. At the Belt and Road Forum on International Cooperation convened on May 14, President Xi Jinping proposed setting up a global coalition on the Belt and Road.
Tsinghua University convened on May 15 a high-level introductory meeting to discuss prospects of an international coalition, and the coordination between international environmental governance and the Belt and Road Initiative.
Solheim called for the full participation in the coalition not only of countries along the Belt and Road routes but also business sectors, UN bodies, and NGOs. “We can succeed by working together,” he said, “but will fail by trying to work in isolation.”
Solheim believes China could share its experience and expertise on green technologies, green finance, and green transport. Solheim concluded his speech at the Thematic Session on People-to-People Exchanges that followed the BRF opening ceremony by quoting President Xi’s words, “Clear water and green mountains are more precious than gold.”