China’s recent economic success has significantly benefited from natural resources supplied from other parts of the world, including Africa. In the process, China and Africa have become important development and business partners. This partnership should develop in harmony with nature, protecting Africa’s often unique ecosystems upon which millions of people’s livelihoods depend.
Together for sustainable growth
A strong correlation now exists between GDP growth in China and Africa. This trend is expected to continue gathering momentum. Africa is endowed with rich and varied natural resources upon which its social and economic systems are based. These resources have global importance, for the world’s climate and for the development of industries such as timber, fisheries, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, minerals, tourism and construction. However not all people in Africa, where the vast majority remain trapped in poverty, have experienced benefits from this wealth. It is crucial that growth will be sustainable for the long-term benefit of people and for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

China’s increasing engagement in Africa has the potential to be a force for positive change. Africa stands to maximize the benefits from Chinese trade and investment with robust natural resource governance and high environmental standards applied to project planning and implementation.

The integration of sustainability principles into the policies and practices governing Africa-China trade and investment will contribute to the effective management of Africa’s natural resource endowments and to the protection of sensitive areas and species.

Our approach consists in:
  • Engaging Chinese and African delegates to promote inclusion of environmental protection in the deliberations of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), thus influencing the overall investment portfolio of China in Africa.
  • Achieving greater responsibility in supply chains through development of investment guidelines in priority sectors such as forestry, infrastructure and extractive industries.
  • Engaging Chinese financial institutions that lend to, and thereby strongly influence, projects in these sectors.
  • Undertaking pilot projects, e.g. supporting Chinese timber companies in Gabon to ensure that their forest products come from responsibly harvested and verified sources.
Young boy in traditional dug-out canoe, near Bensbach tourist lodge, silhouetted as sun sets over ... 
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF
Young boy in traditional dug-out canoe, near Bensbach tourist lodge, silhouetted as sun sets over the Bensbach River. Western Province, Papua New Guinea.
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is the most important platform for Sino-African dialogue. It is within this Forum that key decisions on China trade and investment in Africa are made, every three years. If FOCAC’s core principles and deliberations integrate social and environmental principles, China’s investments in Africa can make a positive contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Fishermen pulling up nets, Mafia Island, part of the Mafia Marine Park which was created with the support of WWF Tanzania.

© Roger Hooper / WWF

WWF in numbers

US$2 Trillion
China's outbound direct investment (ODI) is set to reach US$1 to 2 trillion worldwide by 2020

US$1.5 Billion
In 2009, China reduced or cancelled over 150 debts worth CNY10.5 billion (about US$1.5 billion) to 32 least developed and highly indebted  African countries.

WWF in China and in Africa
WWF has been the first conservation organization invited to work in China, in 1980, and it has 16 offices in Africa.