This project develops a framework for sustainable infrastructure development to promote inclusive economic development and social welfare in the context of Chinese mega infrastructure initiatives in Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. With funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (UK) and Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) this 30 month project is a collaboration between the University of Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment, Independent Research Institute of Mongolia (IRIM) and the University of Central Asia.
This project develops a framework for sustainable infrastructure development to promote inclusive economic development and social welfare in the context of Chinese mega infrastructure initiatives in Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. While large-scale infrastructure projects represent a key mechanism of economic growth and development, they also bring unintended and negative consequences to local populations and environments. These challenges can be compounded by specific regional contexts. This is the case in contemporary Asia where China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), representing more than £1 trillion in investments, is set to transform societies, economies and landscapes through infrastructure megaprojects. The speed and scale of Chinese investments present particular social and environmental challenges to China’s neighbouring states of Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Tajikistan. This includes project siting, use of scarce resources such as water, and land degradation. In addition, these states have limited capacity of national government agencies, historically poor inclusion of local populations in development processes, and fragile, dryland and mountain environments. These challenges result in the need to foster trust, transparency and cooperation between stakeholders to maintain social cohesion and ensure inclusive economic development.
This project addresses these needs by scaling up a pioneering dispute resolution model developed in Mongolia’s mining sector. Based on this local participation and stakeholder engagement experience in Mongolia, the ‘Gobi Framework’ will be replicable, scalable and applicable to other contexts and countries anticipating large-scale investment in. The framework will build upon research by team members in 2016-2017 on complaints mediated by the World Bank’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman in response to conflict over land and water appropriation and degradation at the $12 billion Oyu Tolgoi Mine. This process was led by a multi-stakeholder engagement initiative – Tri-Partite Committee (TPC) – which consisted of local pastoralists, local government and mine management. TPC’s success shows great potential to scale up Mongolia’s example into a replicable model in Central Asia, where there is a cultural and political affinity to Mongolia. The framework will be developed through a mixed-methods and participatory action approach.
The aims of this research are:
- To develop an innovative mediation framework for sustainable infrastructure development that builds on expertise and praxis from Mongolia’s mining sector and is scalable and replicable across Chinese ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ infrastructure projects in Central Asia and beyond.
- To address the challenge of building relationships of trust, cooperation and transparency between key stakeholders in infrastructure development projects; ensuring that socio-economically marginalized communities and local governance institutions are included as partners in the instigation and implementation of large-scale, foreign-backed infrastructure projects which directly affect their livelihoods, environments and access to land and resources.
- To enhance the capacity of communities and government to maximize economic advantages and minimize negative impacts of major infrastructure projects through robust institutional frameworks for mediation.
Project email address: email@example.com
Who we are
Oxford – School of Geography and the Environment – www.geog.ox.ac.uk; University of Oxford – www.ox.ac.uk
IRIM – www.irim.mn
UCA – www.ucentralasia.org/Home/Index/EN
Mongolia – People Centered Conservation; Mongolian National Science Foundation (with CNPS); Erdenes OT LLC
Central Asia – Aga Khan Foundation, Kyrgyzstan/Tajikistan; INTRAC
This project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (UK) and Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). Grant Ref: ES/S000798/1
Sternberg, T., Ahearn, A. and McConnell, F., 2017. Central Asian ‘Characteristics’ on China’s New Silk Road: The Role of Landscape and the Politics of Infrastructure. Land, 6(3)