Guo Huadong outlines proposals to share big data on Earth observations across Asia, the Middle East and East Africa to ensure that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will contribute to sustainability (Nature 554, 25–27; 2018). Sustainability also includes issues of social justice and so, on the basis of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the BRI should include respect for human rights as well, so that everyone benefits.
In our view, the BRI could achieve this social sustainability by including bottom-up participation in all countries involved. China should do more to encourage European countries to sign up to the BRI and enhance the balance of views.
Transnational ‘digital democracy’ should reach beyond the exchange of goods, services and investments by empowering citizens, increasing opportunities for all and promoting peace (D. Helbing and P. Seele Nature 549, 458; 2017).
Nature 555, 311 (2018)