Ruilian’s interests are in the various dimensions of resettlement, covering involuntary land acquisition and resettlement, livelihoods, social impact assessment, and the social and environmental risks of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. He completed his PhD at the National Research Centre for Resettlement (NRCR), Hohai University, China. He has published 11 major technical reports (6 in Chinese, 5 in English), and 26 peer reviewed articles (11 in Chinese, 15 in English).

Ruilian Zhang is a Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining at UQ’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI). He is also a member of the International Association of Impact Assessment (IAIA), and the International Network of Displacement and Resettlement (INDR).

Industry Engagement

Ruilian has engaged in industry facing projects through applied research with hydropower developers, government bodies, international lenders, international and bilateral financial organizations. These include the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Investment Bank (EIB), and Appraisal Centre for Environment & Engineering (ACEE) of Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China.

The focus of Ruilian current position is to examine patterns of mining induced displacement and resettlement worldwide.


From 2015 to 2017, Ruilian was an assistant supervisor to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects financed by the Appraisal Center for Environment & Engineering (ACEE) of Ministry of Ecology and Environment. His projects in this area include: (i) Environmental Risk Identification of China-Central South Peninsula Economic Corridor, (ii) Strategic Environmental Assessment of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, (iii) Research on the Social Safeguard Policy Framework of “Belt & Road” initiative, and (iv) Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for Foreign Investment in Brazil.

Key Publications

Gong, Yichun, Yao, Kaiwen, Zhang, Ruilian, Liu, Bingwen and Wang, Feilong (2020). Rethinking livelihood resilience after development-induced displacement and resettlement: a case study of Qianping Reservoir. International Journal of Water Resources Development, 1-24. doi: 10.1080/07900627.2020.1790340

Owen, John R., Zhang, Ruilian and Solar, Andrea Arratia (2020). On the economics of project-induced displacement: a critique of the externality principle in resource development projects. Journal of Cleaner Production, 276 123247, 123247. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.123247

Peng, Shengping, Shi, Guoqing and Zhang, Ruilian (2019). Social stability risk assessment: status, trends and prospects — a case of land acquisition and resettlement in the hydropower sector. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 1-17. doi: 10.1080/14615517.2019.1706386

Zhang, Ruilian, Shi, Guoqing, Wang, Yuanni, Zhao, Si, Ahmad, Shafiq, Zhang, Xiaochen and Deng, Qucheng (2018). Social impact assessment of investment activities in the China-Pakistan economic corridor. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 36 (4), 331-347. doi: 10.1080/14615517.2018.1465227

Zhang, Ruilian, Andam, Francis and Shi, Guoqing (2017). Environmental and social risk evaluation of overseas investment under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 189 (6) 253. doi: 10.1007/s10661-017-5967-6