On May 14, 2014, the SDSN co-hosted a workshop in Beijing on sustainable development and extractive industries with the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Over 40 experts from the academia, governmental agencies, financial institutions, Chinese companies, and international organizations participated.

The goal of the workshop was to bring Chinese and SDSN experts together to begin a discussion on the developmental impact of natural resources, particularly in Africa, and the ways of enhancing sustainable development. This event was also an opportunity to learn about China’s outward investments related especially to oil, mining, forestry, and agriculture.

In his opening remarks (see full transcript), Professor Shen Lei, the Deputy Director of IGSNRR, gave an overview of the increasingly important role Chine is playing in Africa and introduced his institute’s work in the arena of extractive industries.

Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the SDSN and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General, delivered a keynote speech in which he illustrated the complementarity of the Chinese and African economies: China as the provider of low-cost infrastructure and needing resources, and African countries as resource-rich and in need of infrastructure.

The substantive sessions focused on Chinese outward investment and its sustainability principles; SDSN’s work on the benefits of shared-use of mining-related infrastructure (including rail, port, electricity, water, and ICT); and the environmental responsibility of Chinese enterprises operating in Africa.

The workshop and discussions that took place were very timely following President Xi’s recent African tour and the investments in African infrastructure that were subsequently announced. The SDSN is now well positioned to launch a long-term discussion and engagement with Chinese partners. The Thematic Group on the Good Governance of Extractive Resources is following up with the workshop participants to shape our future engagement.


Achieving Sustainability Through Responsible Mining – Weijun Xie, Minmetals

Africa can’t miss the opportunity of mining-related infrastructure! Can China help? – Perrine Toledano, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment