China Goes Global: A comparative study of Chinese hydropower dams in Africa and Asia
Dr. Frauke Urban, Principal Investigator
Professor Laurence Smith, Co-Investigator
Dr. Giuseppina Siciliano (Research Fellow/Project Manager)
15 October 2012 - 14 April 2016
Professor Giles Mohan, Co-Investigator
Dr May Tan-Mullins, Co-Investigator
Objectives and Scope
China’s rapid economic growth has created a series of pressures which has forced the country to engage more closely with a number of low and middle income countries (LMICs). China’s growth has depleted scarce domestic natural resources and so part of its ‘Going Out Strategy’ encourages overseas investment to access natural resources such as energy and minerals. Access to overseas natural resources, new markets and technological advances, have made China the world’s largest player in large hydropower dam projects, usually backed by state finance and state-owned enterprises.
The aim of this project is to provide the first systematic and comparative analysis of the environmental, social, economic and political impacts of Chinese hydropower dam projects in low and middle income countries, that will inform corporate behaviour of hydropower firms in China and the UK and shape emerging national and international policy responses.
Four themes will be thoroughly investigated:
- Organization and motives of Chinese hydropower actors;
- Local and National Impacts;
- Governance implications;
- UK and OECD interests.
This project is a direct outcome of the ESRC-funded project ‘China as a new ‘shaper’ of international development’ (Ref: RES-075-25-0019) under the Rising Powers (RPs) Network scheme. The team now intends to advance the intellectual agenda and the insights gained in the network phase by conducting further work on China’s role in international development and to build on the institutional partnerships created in the first phase. The project will apply a multi-sited, comparative case study approach and will involve detailed empirical research in Ghana, Nigeria, Cambodia and Malaysia, which represent different facets of China’s hydropower in the global South.
We will conduct four case studies - two for Africa (Ghana, Nigeria) and two for Asia (Cambodia, Malaysia) - each of which has been chosen for representing a specific approach to Chinese dam building. Each involves the Chinese as dam developers, focuses on dams of more than 50MW, where construction has recently been completed or is in progress, and where access to the sites and to local communities is favourable. The hydropower projects under investigation are: Bui Dam in Ghana, Zamfara Dam in Nigeria, Kamchay Dam in Cambodia and Bakun Dam in Malaysia.
The project team comprises 10 institutes from the UK, China and each of the 4 countries involved in the case studies: SOAS, the Open University, University of Nottingham Ningbo in China, the University of Ghana, Cambodia Development Resource Institute CDRI, the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research, Nottingham University in Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Tsinghua University in Beijing and International Rivers.
The research project will last 3 years in total, from October 2012 to October 2015, and is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council ESRC (reference ES/J01320X/1).
ESRC project website: China goes global
Articles / Journal publications
- Urban, Frauke and Zhou, Yuan and Nordensvard, Johan and Narain, Ankita (2015) 'Firm-level technology transfer and technology cooperation for wind energy between Europe, China and India: From North–South to South–North cooperation?' Energy for Sustainable Development, 28 (10). pp. 29-40.
- Urban, Frauke (2015) Environmental innovation for sustainable development: the role of China. Sustainable Development, 23 (7-8). pp. 203–205.
- Urban, Frauke and Siciliano, Giuseppina and Sour, Kim and Lonn, Pich Dara and Tan-Mullins, May and Mang, Grace (2015) South-South technology transfer of low carbon innovation: Chinese large hydropower dams in Cambodia. Sustainable Development, 23 (7-8). pp. 232–244.
- Nordensvard, Johan and Urban, Frauke and Mang, Grace (2015) Social innovation and Chinese overseas hydropower dams: The nexus of national social policy and Corporate Social Responsibility. Sustainable Development, 23 (7-8). pp. 245-256.
- Siciliano, Giuseppina and Urban, Frauke and Sour, Kim and Pich, Dara Lonn (2015) 'Hydropower, social priorities and the rural–urban development divide: The case of large dams in Cambodia.' Energy Policy, 86 . pp. 273-285.
- Urban, Frauke and Nordensvard, Johan and Siciliano, Giuseppina and Li, Binqin (2015) Chinese Overseas Hydropower Dams and Social Sustainability: The Bui Dam in Ghana and the Kamchay Dam in Cambodia. Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, 2 (3). pp. 573-589.
- Urban, Frauke Chinese dams go global: opportunities for more sustainable hydropower. London: CeDEP. SOAS, University of London.
- Urban, Frauke (2014) 'China goes global.' International Innovation Environment Report, , 159 . pp. 83-85.
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