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Corporate responsibility and biodiversity conservation: challenges and opportunities for companies participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 January 2022

Eve Bohnett*
Affiliation:
Department of Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA Center for Complex Human–Environment Systems, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA Florida Institute for Built Environment Resilience, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
Abdoulaye Coulibaly
Affiliation:
Department of Statistics, Beihang University, Beijing, China
Dave Hulse
Affiliation:
Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA Florida Institute for Built Environment Resilience, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
Thomas Hoctor
Affiliation:
Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
Bilal Ahmad
Affiliation:
Institute of Agriculture Sciences and Forestry, University of Swat, Swat, Pakistan
Li An
Affiliation:
Center for Complex Human–Environment Systems, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA Department of Geography, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA
Rebecca Lewison
Affiliation:
Department of Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA
*
Author for Correspondence: Dr Eve Bohnett, Email: ebohnett@sdsu.edu

Summary

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), designed to build critical infrastructure and coordinate economic growth, is the most significant development initiative in modern history. The BRI has a documented vision for sustainability, including environmental impact assessments and responsibility tenets. Despite this, a growing body of literature has found adverse effects of BRI projects on protected land and species. To understand corporate responsibility and regulations for companies participating in the BRI, we gathered information on 260 BRI companies using the Refinitiv Eikon BRI Connect database and the China Global Investment Tracker. The results revealed a significant gap in corporate responsibility reporting for biodiversity impacts, environmental restoration, environmental project financing and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 14 ‘Life below Water’ and 15 ‘Life on Land’. The modest fraction of companies that we found to report biodiversity accountability highlights the need to restructure and incentivize the reporting of environmental and biodiversity risks. The current evidence of limited adherence to responsibility measures highlights a clear opportunity to align BRI development with the BRI’s vision for sustainability, and to strengthen links for policy engagement within Chinese regulatory frameworks and international obligations at the United Nations within its SDG framework.

Type
Research Paper
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Foundation for Environmental Conservation

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