China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) represents the country’s unprecedented ambition to increase connectivity, strengthen cooperation, facilitate trade and financial integration and enhance people-to-people exchange through six regional economic corridors.

There is considerable uncertainty around how BRI infrastructure will affect climate change, society and the environment. To make the BRI in Southeast Asia sustainable and to minimise its contribution to the threat of climate change, recipient countries need to develop a coordinated policy that reconciles economic prosperity, social equity and environmental protection with the actions needed to address it.

We call for the decision-making processes around BRI investments to embrace three characteristics: transparency, participation and commitment to international standards. Through the participatory process, local information and knowledge can be communicated from local stakeholders to national and regional levels, so the decisions taken can acquire social acceptance, or buy-in, and decrease risks of conflict.