International Association for Impact Assessment

Impact Assessment for Belt & Road Initiative Projects

  • Presenter(s): Xufeng Zhu, Jean-Luc Fiol, Thiri Aung, Thomas Fischer & Francesca Viliani

    Recorded: 15 DEC 2020

    Facilitator(s): Sara Bice & Ben Cave

    China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) represents the world's largest comprehensive infrastructure investment program. BRI holds the potential to improve development in a substantial number of places. These environmental, social, economic and health opportunities, however, are not without risk. Any major project development also brings concerns about environmental harm, negative social impacts, community resettlement, the spread of communicable disease and economic inequality. 

    Impact Assessment (IA) will play a vital role in helping to identify and mitigate negative environmental, social, economic and health risks of BRI projects. IA will also support decision-making to optimize project benefits for local communities and national economies. Done well, IA can enhance development at a large scale. This webinar will bring together the world's leading practitioners and experts on impact assessment in China to critically examine the challenges and opportunities of the initiative from a variety of perspectives, including:

    • Environmental impact assessment
    • Health impact assessment
    • Social impact assessment
    • Economic impact assessment
    • Cumulative impact assessment
    • Strategic environmental assessment / Strategic environmental & social assessment

    Many of the proposed projects are slated to occur in developing countries where local capacity and resourcing, as well as regulation to support best practice impact assessment, may be lacking. The 2020 COVID19 pandemic also amplifies pre-existing concerns about the role of health impact assessment in major projects, making this a timely and important topic for discussion. 


    Presenter Bios:

    Xufeng ZHU is currently Professor and Associate Dean at the School of Public Policy and Management (SPPM) and Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development Goals, Tsinghua University (TUSDG), Deputy Director of the Science & Technology Development and Governance Center, Tsinghua University (TUSTDG), and Director of the Think Tank Research Center of the SPPM. His research interests include the policy process, think tank and expert involvement, Science & Technology policy, environment and climate policy, and public governance in transitional China. He serves as Regional Editor of Asian Journal of Political Sciences, Associate Editor of Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, and editorial board memberships for other eight international journals.

    Jean-Luc Fiol is a current Masters candidate at the School of Public Policy & Management of Tsinghua University. He also serves as Executive Director of the Student Association of the Belt & Road Initiative (SABRI) from the same university, the first world student association focused on BRI. Since 2018, SABRI has connected more than 1000 students from different regions and established a worldwide network that has helped to build cross cultural communication channels among youth. The association aims to become a leading reference for the understanding and analysis of the Belt & Road Initiative, as well as, a platform for cooperation and dialogue between youth around the world. Jean-Luc has worked as a lawyer for D'Empaire Reyna Abogados in the Environmental Matters Department, assessing worldwide enterprises regarding the environmental legal framework of Venezuela. He also served as attache at the Embassy of Switzerland in Venezuela.

    Thomas Fischer is Professor of Impact Assessment and Environmental Planning with a particular interest in transport and spatial planning as well as health at the University of Liverpool, UK, and an Extraordinary Professor at North West University, South Africa. He is the editor of IAIA's journal,  Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, and Director of the University of Liverpool's Environmental Assessment and Management Research Centre as well as the WHO Collaborating Centre on Health in Impact Assessments

    Thiri Aung is a Research Fellow at the Asia Center, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University. Her current project explores the impacts of natural resource extraction on the ethnic armed conflicts, the environment and livelihood in conflict-affected areas in Myanmar.

    Prior to joining Harvard, Dr. Thiri was a Post-doctoral Researcher at the School of Environment and Energy, Peking University, China. Her project explored the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI) with a particular focus on natural resource extraction and infrastructure development in the countries along the initiatives. She has published extensively on the environmental impact assessment (EIA), life cycle impact assessment (LCIA), environmental economics, waste management, land use land cover changes and environmental rights

    Francesca Viliani is Director of Public Health and co-Head Sustainability, International SOS where she leads global public health advice, including health impact assessments and public health surveys, in partnership to support evidence-based interventions. She is a Stakeholder Council Member for the Global Reporting Initiative and is a long-time member and former Board Director, IAIA

    Ben Cave is current IAIA President and Director, Ben Cave Associates, Leeds, UK. Ben has specialized in health and social impact assessment for the last 20 years. He works across the UK, in mainland Europe and further afield with policymakers, public health academics, environment scientists and spatial planners. In 2011 he received the International Association for Impact Assessment Individual Award for achievement and advancement in impact assessment over a period of time at an international level.

    Sara Bice: Professor Sara Bice is Foundation Director, Institute for Infrastructure in Society at the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University. She is Vice Chancellor's Futures Scheme Senior Fellow for her work on The Next Generation Engagement program, Australia's largest study into community engagement in infrastructure, to date. Sara is Past President, IAIA and serves as Professor (Special International Guest) at the School of Public Policy and Management, Tsinghua University, Beijing.

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