GCRF Inclusive Societies: 'Mediation Model for Sustainable Infrastructure Development' - Scaling up Praxis from Mongolia to Central Asia
09/18 - 09/18
This project is part of
This project develops a dynamic Mediation Model for Sustainable Infrastructure Development (MMSID) to promote inclusive economic development and social welfare in the context of Chinese mega infrastructure initiatives 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. These challenges can be compounded by specific regional contexts. This is the case in contemporary Asia where China's One Belt-One Road (OBOR), representing more than £1 trillion in investments, is set to transform societies, economies and landscapes through infrastructure megaprojects. Opaqueness in Chinese procurement rights points to the potential for resource contestation between current rural users and state-driven contracts. This contrasts with standards established by international funders such as IFC, World Bank, ADB and OECD. The speed and scale of OBOR investments present particular social and environmental challenges to China's neighbouring states of Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Tajikistan. This includes project siting, use of scarce resources such as water, and land degradation. In addition, these states have limited capacity of national government agencies, weak governance institutions, historically poor inclusion of local populations in development processes, fragile, dryland and mountain environments and the prevalence of Sinophobia. These challenges result in the need to foster trust, transparency and cooperation between stakeholders to maintain social cohesion and ensure inclusive economic development. The need to find a new path which combines economic growth and investment with social inclusion is pressing for political stability in the region. In collaboration with our 2 international Co-Is based in Mongolia and Central Asia, our project addresses these needs by scaling up a pioneering dispute resolution model developed in Mongolia's mining sector. Based on this local participation and stakeholder engagement experience in Mongolia, the MMSID will be replicable, scalable and applicable to other contexts and countries anticipating large-scale investment in. Our MMSID builds upon research by the Co-I and PDRA in 2016-2017 on complaints mediated by the World Bank's Compliance Advisor Ombudsman in response to conflict over land and water appropriation and degradation at the $12 billion Oyu Tolgoi Mine. This process was led by a multi-stakeholder engagement initiative - Tri-Partite Committee (TPC) - which consisted of local pastoralists, local government and mine management. TPC's success shows great potential to scale up Mongolia's example into a replicable model in Central Asia, where there is a cultural and political affinity to Mongolia. The MMSID will be developed through a mixed-methods and participatory action approach. Appropriate methods, field sites and impact activities, have been chosen with research partners. Beneficiaries include: rural residents, local and national government, business stakeholders, international agencies, development practitioners, local and international academics. The project's 6 stages incorporate focused impact activities aimed to build long-term partnerships alongside capacity building and outputs. MMSID will be applied and disseminated through publications, knowledge exchanges, communication platforms, research uptake activities and extensive interactive trainings. The project advances understanding of infrastructure-induced transformations, encourages effective local business engagement and stresses capacity building for development of more inclusive and robust institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks. Our proposal benefits from ten months of scoping work in Central Asia which ensured research feasibility and co-design of research aims with in-country partners and will foster immediate, effective development of MMSID.