This virtual Wilton Park meeting is a first in a series of dialogues that will lead to policy relevant conclusions and recommendations on how to best ensure that energy projects undertaken within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) framework can deliver significant environmental, economic and social benefits along with returns on investment. This thought leadership process will bring together some 50 specially selected participants to contribute their insights and expertise. As well as roundtable discussion in plenary sessions and detailed examination of key issues in small breakout group format, the virtual platform will allow for informal chats between individual participants as would occur at a physical meeting.
The BRI initiative has rapidly become a landmark programme for international infrastructure development due to its massive scale, speed, and range of international partnerships. The focus of this dialogue will be on BRI energy infrastructure investment in Southeast, South and Central Asia, covering projects such as electricity generation capacity, grids, and mini grids.
Energy infrastructure investment is a critical component of the ability for BRI countries to meet the ambitions outlined by the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Greater BRI investment in low carbon energy, particularly in the context of COVID-19, holds enormous potential as well to initiate and accelerate post-COVID economic recovery and growth in BRI countries as well as bring major gains in terms of jobs created and improved public health. Conversely, future investments in carbon intensive energy projects, whether within the BRI framework or outside of it, create well-established concerns over social and environmental risk and the potential financial risks of stranded assets. Host country development strategies, planning capacities and regulations will be of critical importance in taking forward green electricity generation options and project standards.