Independent Research Institute of Mongolia (IRIM), University of Oxford’s Geography and the Environment, University of Central Asia’s Institute of Public Policy and Administration have begun the implementation of the 30 month collaborative project “Gobi Framework for Sustainable Infrastructure Partnerships: Scaling up Praxis from Mongolia to Central Asia” with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (UK) and Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) starting from September 2018.

The project aims to investigate how Chinese infrastructure investments transform societies, economies, and landscapes 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. Common challenges include: a lack of engagement with local communities and local government; breakdown in social cohesion due to competition for resources; inequitable economic growth; pressures on weak governance structures and institutional capacity; detrimental impacts on environment sustainability; and conflicts between stakeholders which can lead to sub-optimal economic growth outcomes. These generic challenges can be compounded by specific regional and geographic contexts.


We will examine these challenges within China’s One Belt-One Road (OBOR) Initiative. Representing more than £1 trillion in investments, OBOR is set to transform societies, economies and landscapes through infrastructure megaprojects (including trade, agriculture and mining) across Asia. The unprecedented speed and scale of OBOR investments present particular social and environmental challenges to China's neighboring states of Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Tajikistan.

The project objectives are to develop the innovative Gobi Framework for sustainable infrastructure partnerships. This model builds on experiences from Mongolia's mining sector. We aim for the framework to be scalable and replicable in Central Asia and beyond. It will specifically address the Chinese ‘One Belt-One Road' (OBOR) infrastructure projects.

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