Giving Compass' Take:

• Grace Leong examines China's Belt and Road Initiative, a regional infrastructure project that hopes to bring economic prosperity from Pakistan to China and other areas along the old Silk Road.

• How can funders help to build a complete picture of the long-term financial, social, and environmental impacts of this undertaking? What are the implications for philanthropists working in these countries? 

• Read about the philanthropic potential of Asia.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will bring trillions of dollars in infrastructure investments around the old Silk Road.

But the social and environmental impact from what is easily the biggest infrastructure and investment project in Asia to date is significant and will likely take many decades to play out.

"One of the struggles of working on One Belt, One Road is that so much is happening, it is hard to say exactly what the outcomes will be," said Dr Ijlal Naqvi, assistant professor of sociology at Singapore Management University, yesterday at the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network's four-day conference.

He recounted a recent field trip to Pakistan's Karakoram Highway, a national expressway connecting Pakistan to China.

Said Dr Naqvi: "It was fascinating to see how giant infrastructure projects have the potential to do much in the lives of local people who happen to live under the footprint of an overground mass rapid transit project, or in the vicinity of a giant highway connecting them to cities that used to be beyond mountains for them."

The conference is the largest gathering of social investors in Asia, bringing together 1,000 delegates from 40 countries to address critical issues relating to climate action, education and wealth disparity, among other things.

The BRI is China's ambitious development plan to boost trade and economic growth across Asia through infrastructure projects.

Read the full article about the Belt and Road Initiative by Grace Leong at The Straits Times.