The impact of BRI investment in infrastructure on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Neil Renwick, Jing Gu, Sen Gong

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


This report explains critical perspectives on the BRI from an international development perspective. To address this question and central aim, the report has four sections: (i) a summary of the existing English and Chinese literature on key interactions between the BRI and SDGs and infrastructure development; (ii) an evaluation of complementarities and differences between the approaches of the established or orthodox approach to infrastructure development and that of China; (iii) a short case study of Africa, with specific reference to Kenya and Ethiopia; and (iv) an explanation of the policy implications for traditional donors, such as the UK, in partnering with China on BRI investment in infrastructure. Based on evidence drawn from a literature review of English and Chinese language sources, the report’s findings can be summarised in the following four aspects. Firstly, the BRI is a potentially important tool to help achieve the SDGs. The focus on infrastructure capacity and increasing connectivity can provide a practical framework that is already operating with global reach and impact. Secondly, the BRI faces concerns internationally and within China over its economic, corporate, environmental, socio-cultural and political governance and the need for transparency, accountability and alignment with international environmental and social safeguards. To realise the BRI’s full potential, these concerns need to be addressed. Thirdly, there is a need for a closer and sustained dialogue between China, the BRI partners and the “traditional” donor countries. This could facilitate cooperation on infrastructure building in low-income countries and help deliver on the SDGs through the BRI. The BRI is now at a pivotal point in its development and it is timely to establish a process of meaningful dialogue and exchange. Fourthly, the BRI represents a significant opportunity for the UK. With the UK’s comparative advantages and experience in financial services, transport and communications, and demonstrated commitment to international sustainable development, the BRI can offer new business and development opportunities for collaboration in a post-Brexit phase. The close UK- China bilateral relationship on sustainable development can be deepened through additional infrastructure cooperation related to the BRI, combined with a meaningful dialogue on the BRI’s alignment with international standards.
Original languageEnglish
TypeBelt and Road Initiative, Sustainable Development and and Infrastructure
PublisherInstitute of Development Studies
Number of pages39
Place of PublicationBrighton
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2018

Publication series

NameK4D Emerging Issues Report


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