Speaker: Euston Quah
Affiliation: Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is expected to bring about significant economic growth through trade, infrastructure, finance, policy, and people. But it could, in the worst-case scenario, result in unsustainable infrastructure and technology, and even excessive resource extraction and long-lasting negative environmental impact. To do a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) for the BRI, one has to take into account both the tangible and intangible costs and benefits, considering issues such as pollution, employment, and even the PRC’s role as the environmental steward for the region. In addition, one has to note the various constraints in conducting a CBA in developing countries, adjusting for inefficient markets and survey biases.
The BRI is also not spared the not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) syndrome, which calls for local environmental management and the involvement of stakeholders. With a complete and inclusive CBA, the resolution of NIMBY conflicts, and the engagement of stakeholders, the BRI could perhaps prove that the goals of economic development and meeting environmental obligations can be simultaneously met by PRC.
About the Speaker
Euston Quah is Head of Economics at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, and an Adjunct Principal Research Fellow of the Institute of Policy Studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He was formerly Chair, School of Humanities and Social Sciences at NTU; Vice Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences; Deputy Director of the Public Policy Program (now called the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy); and head of the economics department at NUS. A prolific writer, Euston has published over 100 papers in major internationally refereed journals and opinion pieces. His work on CBA was recommended for reference by the United States White House Office of Management and Budget for use by government agencies applying for project grants. He advises various ministries of the Singapore government and was a member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Strategies Sub-Committee on Energy and the Environment. He is also a Review Panel Member for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project hosted by the Overseas Development Institute, London. He has been editor of the Singapore Economic Review since 2002 and president of the Economic Society of Singapore since 2009.
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