G7 launches global infrastructure investment for China’s BRI
The G7 Group has launched an infrastructure investment push aimed at countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The launch took place during the G7 summit in Cornwall. While no extra state funding for infrastructure schemes had been confirmed, the “Build Back Better World” (B3W) plan, part of the G7’s infrastructure investment, looked to attract private finance.
The summit’s communiqué described the plan as a “step change” in nations’ approach to infrastructure financing, while the White House said the B3W plan would be able to cover Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Indo-Pacific.
What is China’s Belt and Road Initiative? (BRI)
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is China’s programme to build both physical and digital infrastructure to connect several countries from Asia to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
It was adopted in 2013 by the Chinese government as a way of expanding the nation’s global influence. China’s motives for the plan include state sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity, and the protection of its political and social stability system. China is also using the plan to ensure continued economic and social development.
Why is the G7 Group competing with China?
While the reason for countering China’s BRI plan has not specifically been stated, official documents have suggested that it could be due to transparency, good governance, and “values”. However, in the past, the US has criticised the BRI projects, saying that they lack these qualities. Other opposition groups in recipient countries have also criticised the plan.
“Until now, we haven't offered a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards, and our way of doing business … [B3W] won't just be an alternative to the BRI, but we believe will beat the BRI by offering a higher-quality choice”, a senior administration official said in a news briefing.
However, a G7 spokesperson for the UK argued that there was more to the investment push than competing with China. He said: “This project stands on its own merits and is in line with the G7’s priorities on ensuring the world builds back better and greener from the pandemic”.
.Whether or not the G7’s investment initiative will be able to match China’s BRI is unclear, but a 2018 report from ICBC Standard Bank shows that after the first five years of the programme, some $330bn of transport and $266bn of energy projects were announced, underway or complete.
Construction workers urged to down tools for mental health
The construction industry is being encouraged to stop all work for one hour to focus on the importance of physical and mental health. The plea is part of the ‘Stop. Make a Change.’ (SMAC) campaign which is asking construction organisations across the country t spend an hour thinking about physical health conditions, such as respiratory health, work-related stress, as well as mental health conditions including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety, OCD, and bipolar disorder.
This year, the campaign, which takes place from 11 to 22 October, will focus on individual workers, placing particular emphasis on how they have been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. In addition to encouraging workers to consider their health, safety, and wellbeing, they will also be asked how those areas can be improved
Andy Mitchell, co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council, said: “Our industry workforce is crucial to all of our future successes. We recognise the heroic efforts these workers have undertaken during the pandemic, and want to make sure that, as the industry hopefully emerges from COVID-19, we continue to look after everyone’s health, safety and wellbeing.”
Around 200,000 people took part in the campaign in 2019, which has been running since 2017. SMAC’s website also offers conversation starter kits to help encourage people to talk about their emotions and wellbeing, making it as natural as possible.
Suicide rates in the construction industry are increasing
A study by Glasgow Caledonian University found suicide rates among construction workers had risen to 29 per 100,000 in 2019 from 25 in 2015. Suicide rates among labourers increased by more than 50% from 48 per 100,000 in 2015 to 73 per 100,000 in 2019. However, the rate in non-construction-related industries has fallen, with just under five people per 100,000 taking their own lives in 2019 in comparison to 7 people in 2015.
If you work in the construction industry and need help, The Lighthouse charity provides free 24-hour, seven-days-a-week emotional and wellbeing support for those in the industry through its helpline available on 0345 605 1956 in the UK, or 1800 939 122 in the Republic of Ireland.
Lighthouse also has a free app where workers can access information that can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.