Tsinghua University, in partnership with Volvo Group, held the Global Sustainable Infrastructure and Connectivity Summit this week in Beijing, China. The event, which was held on October 25, saw approximately 180 experts, academics, business leaders and media gather to discuss ways to promote sustainable infrastructure construction and connectivity.
For the Volvo Group, this was an opportunity to show its commitment to China’s infrastructure development and establish relationships and share best practices with existing and potential customers and stakeholders. “Sustainable development is high on the Chinese government’s agenda, and a key engine in driving economic growth and regional development,” says Niklas Nillroth, VP Environment and Sustainability at Volvo Construction Equipment.
The importance of infrastructure
Infrastructure plays an important role in economic growth, social development, job creation and poverty alleviation. However, expanding infrastructure services effectively remains a challenge, especially in developing countries. With further mega-projects such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative* being developed, finding new ways to realize global sustainable infrastructure and connectivity, and propel sustainable regional development by technological innovation, multilateral cooperation and exercising responsibilities is in sharp focus.
(*The Belt and Road initiative is a development strategy that focuses on improving transport connections and cooperation between China and its neighboring countries.)
At the Summit, Yuan Si, member of Tsinghua University Management Council; Anna Lindstedt, ambassador of Sweden to China and Mongolia; Bill Law, SVP Corporate Communications and Public Affairs of Volvo Construction Equipment; Fang Qiuchen, chairman of China International Contractors Association; and Sun Yuanjiang, Principle Communication Officer of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, respectively, delivered keynote speeches. Topics discussed ranged from how to enhance the ability of sustainable development, to infrastructure investment and financing issues, and how Chinese enterprises can act more socially responsible.
“If current population and consumption trends continue, by the 2030s we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us,” said Qian Xiaojun, Vice President of the School of Economics and Management, and Director of Green Economy and Sustainable Development Research Center of Tsinghua University. “Increasingly, shortage of non-renewable resources and global climate change are testing the sustainability of human society and economic development. Infrastructure is a fundamental public service, for production activities and people’s livings. Sustainable infrastructure, to some extent, determines a sustainable overall economic operation.
“To secure infrastructure projects that are environmentally protective, and reach energy saving and emission reduction targets, effective policy making and supervising, industrial standard unifying and technological upgrading, and marketization are all needed,” Xiaoiun continued. “All relevant interests should form a joint force, reach a consensus, and realize the common goal of sustainable development.”
Volvo’s Law, said, “Volvo puts a high priority on sustainable development. In 2014, Volvo Construction Equipment launched a Construction Climate Challenge project in the global society that aims to build an effective dialogue platform for the industry and promote communication among academics, business and government on the topic of climate action. It also provides funding for research and promotes and shares its findings, in a bid to achieve the goal of reducing negative impacts on environment, and addressing the climate change challenge.”
In the panel, opinion leaders from the School of Architecture, Tsinghua University, National Climate Center, China Road and Bridge Construction Corporation, China Metallurgical Corporation, China WTO Tribune and Volvo CE’s Niklas Nillroth, discussed how the climate change challenge can be addressed in the built environment. The discussion covered infrastructure, energy conversation and emission reduction solutions in the construction sector, and how to deal with the challenges of overseas investment.
During the summit, Volvo Group launched a white paper on transport solutions and connectivity, which illustrates the findings of various worldwide case studies in this field, while analyzing the current situation of sustainability in China, under the background of the Belt and Road Initiative.