A glance at the East: China's achievements and international cooperation in the field of environmental protection

Publication date: 21 December 2017

To date, China is very close to a complete transition from an industrial to a post-industrial level of development. For the last ten years, the Celestial Empire has achieved significant results in promoting sustainable development and regulating environmental issues, attracting the attention of experts from all over the world.

The thing is that the Chinese government views the nature protection as one of the fundamental state political guidelines, not opposing the ecology to the economy. The idea of building an ‘ecological civilization’ is fixed at the legislative level and concerns a fundamental change not only in production methods but also in the way of life. For example, since 2007, the government banned free plastic bags, as a result, their use declined by 24 billion, which saved 4.8 million tons of oil. And this is just a drop in the ocean of measures being taken.

The country actively participates in various environmental conventions, cooperates with developed countries, discussing investment in advanced technologies. To date, China has agreements and memoranda of cooperation on environmental protection with the United States, Canada, India, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Russia, Germany, Australia, Ukraine, Finland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands.


In order to strengthen international cooperation in the field of environmental protection, in 1992 the Chinese Council for International Cooperation in the Field of Environment and Development (CCICED) was established in the country, which consists of Chinese and foreign specialists, and well-known public figures.

For example, Zhang Gaoli, Vice Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, is a Chairman of the CCICED. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change of Canada, serves as Executive Vice Chair of CCICED. Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, is also a member of the council, as is Vidar Helgesen, the Norwegian Minister for Climate and Environment – these are just a few of the names from the list.

The main task of CCICED is to make proposals to the Government of China through consultations and recommendations to reforms, concepts, and laws on energy, protection of biodiversity, a formation of ecological agriculture, calculation and pricing of natural resources, environmental legal acts and many other issues.

Iskandar Abdullaev, Executive Director of CAREC, will act as Special Adviser to CCICED in the next five years, that is, from 2017 to 2021 or in Phase VI. The role of advisors is to provide recommendations for case studies and environmental policy issues.

"Among the special advisors, the only representative from the CIS countries is CAREC, which provides for our region the possibility of direct access to the colossal international environmental experience and the opportunity to advise the Chinese leadership on sustainable development," said Dr. Abdullaev. "Having the status of a special adviser, we can make recommendations and proposals, including for the initiation of new joint projects in the field of environmental protection."


The council meets annually. This year, the general meeting of the CCICED was held in Beijing from December 9 to 11.

At the opening, Zhang Gaoli made a speech, again emphasizing the general vector of the discussions: " China has made building an ecological civilization an important goal". This is especially reflected in the broad law enforcement on individual enterprises and measures to reduce coal consumption.

Since the beginning of 2017, the authorities of Beijing alone have fined more than 1,000 businesses for violating environmental legislation, and, for example, in Hebei Province, more than 33,000 coal-fired boiler houses have been closed. In addition, China already has a leading position in the development of "green energy", it has become the world's largest manufacturer of wind motors and solar panels. The installed wind power in the country reaches at least 40 million kW. However, large-scale work is yet to come.

Members of CCICED proposed a strategy for further combating environmental pollution, which was considered at the annual meeting. The project document is divided into six thematic areas: environmental management planning, conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity, energy, environment and climate, environmental governance and law, pollution prevention, monitoring and mitigation, regional and international interaction. For each block, the relevant CCICED recommendations of recent years are listed.

For example, it is recommended to accelerate the development of an urbanization strategy that emphasizes the rational distribution and decentralized development of all cities, not just megacities. Mention is given to encouraging the use of clean fuel through various tax preferences, the Internet Plus action plan for the integration of cloud computing, big data, to stimulate the healthy development of e-commerce, industrial networks, and environmental monitoring systems.

A separate session was dedicated to China's famous "One Belt, One Road" initiative, which, on the basis of the spirit of the ancient Silk Road, calls for the development of new mechanisms for regional economic partnership, stimulating profitable trade between the countries involved, and strengthening cultural ties in all areas between different civilizations. The recommendations include a carrying out a transboundary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) within the initiative.

Along with the long-term strategy, there is a work plan for 2018, which includes or the annual general meeting of CCICED, a roundtable meeting on innovation and green development involving the business sector, consideration of China's domestic reforms and the country's foreign policy towards sustainable development, dialogue on gender.

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