Sustainability in China-Africa relations – ‘Greening’ FOCAC

  • Sven Grimm


China‟s economic development has been one of the large global development success stories of the last generation: China‟s GNI has grown tenfold over the last 25 years. Given the size of China, not least so its demographic weight, this impressive economic growth is a basis for global political weight (cf. Kaplinsky/Messner 2008). After having pursued a policy of „opening up‟ under Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s, China is increasingly „going out‟ since the late 1990s. Under President Hu Jintao, the country was engaging increasingly with global politics, including increasing cooperation with in African states. One of the challenges in Africa is the work on nature conservation while promoting development at the same time. The UNDP report on progress on the MDG notes that targets for the provision of basic sanitation (which is also related to sustainability questions) is out of reach for the 2015 deadline, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. UNDP continues by clearly stating: “The world has missed the 2010 target to slow the decline in biodiversity. Nearly 17,000 species of plants and animals are currently at risk of extinction, and the number of species threatened by extinction is growing by the day” (UNDP 2012). Specifically in some biodiversity hotspots like South Africa, Madagascar or the DRC, this is a worrying trend (cf. Burgess 2012b). And while deforestation rates might have slowed down, they continue to be particularly high in highly biodiverse forests that, once destroyed, cannot be brought back by tree-planting programmes or the like (UNDP 2012). Development endeavours in Africa thus have to be sensitive to environmental concerns, including investments and industrial developments in the realm of South-South Cooperation.