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Universiteit Leiden (2020)

Ecological Sustainability and the Chinese Belt and Road Project : An assessment of Strong Sustainability within the Standard Gauge Railway projects in Sub-Saharan Africa

Zijderveld, Anoek

Titre : Ecological Sustainability and the Chinese Belt and Road Project : An assessment of Strong Sustainability within the Standard Gauge Railway projects in Sub-Saharan Africa

Auteur : Zijderveld, Anoek

Université de soutenance : Universiteit Leiden

Grade : Master thesis | International Relations (MA) 2020

Résumé
The concept of Sustainable Development is increasingly used in development policies. Still, it remains questionable whether sustainable development is feasible in reality. Since a few years, China aims to be leading in sustainable development. Their Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) could secure that leading role at a global scale. Nonetheless, many scholars argue that this project is far from sustainable. Others refute this criticism and state that the BRI has the most potential for sustainable development. This thesis aims to investigate this debate by answering the following question : To what extent is ecologically sustainable development implemented within the Chinese BRI Railroad projects in Sub-Saharan African Countries ? A qualitative data analysis (small-N) will answer this question. The conditions of sustainable development will be compared to practice by studying three railroad projects. This thesis will view sustainable development through an ecological lens with a focus on Strong Sustainability. This thesis analyses how the projects relate to the criteria of Strong Sustainability : protecting and promoting biodiversity, sustainable water management and carbon emission reductions. The results show that the SGR projects do attribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. Still, they could have done more to make the project genuinely sustainable ; a lot of environmental concerns remain unaddressed within the projects. Therefore, these projects cannot be labelled as ecologically sustainable under the criteria of Strong Sustainability

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