The potential synergies between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and China's “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) Initiative were at the centre of the discussions between senior officials from the UNECE Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) programme and China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) last week in Beijing.
The two sides recognized that central to the implementation of both agendas are “people first” PPPs - a new generation of PPPs going beyond simply financial criteria and stressing social and environmental sustainability -, as well as the need to increase the sustainability of projects by building the capacity of governments, improving project governance and engaging a wider range of stakeholders.
They agreed to strengthen their cooperation in the promotion of people first PPPs by developing a joint action plan to help UNECE member States to implement people first PPPs related to the OBOR initiative and for the SDGs. Such a plan will build capacity to promote priority projects, develop pilot projects and improve the enabling environment.
Under “One Belt One Road”, USD 900 billion has already either been disbursed or committed to infrastructure projects in Europe, Africa and Asia, according to the China Development Bank. The initiative could eventfully reach up to as much as USD 3 trillion in investments over the coming decades. It could thus provide major business opportunities, for both Chinese companies and companies from UNECE countries in construction, transport, energy, social and municipal services, amongst others.
"We would like to deepen our cooperation with UNECE to also include PPP training and capacity-building for countries along the OBOR route in Asia and Europe," said Mr. Zhifeng Han, Deputy Director of NDRC’s Investment Department.
Mr. James Stewart, chairman of the UNECE PPP Business Advisory Board (BAB), recalled the success of a PPP support programme for Belarus carried out by the BAB and its members in close cooperation with the host Government. This programme, which included actual projects funded by the EBRD and improvements in PPP legislation, could offer a model for similar cooperation under the OBOR initiative. On OBOR itself, he said: "this initiative is a 'win-win' for China and the OBOR participating states and we all need to sit up and take notice".
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Note to editors
UNECE and the NDRC signed a Memorandum of Understanding in January 2016 to facilitate the efficient use of PPPs in support of the “One Belt One Road” initiative.
The UNECE PPP programme prepares international standards for the SDGs, and works closely with the multilateral banks, notably the World Bank.
The UNECE PPP Business Advisory Board helps to develop these and assists countries to implement them.
People first PPPs
The concept of “people first” PPPs has been coined by UNECE to describe the type of project models that will be required to meet the SDGs. There are five criteria by which projects can be called “people first”, notably, increasing access and social equity; cutting carbon emissions and making infrastructure more resilient to climate change; training local staff and governments thereby ensuring replicability; high economic impact and transformation; and engagement with stakeholders.
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