Ecological Protection, A Must for Urbanization

The Chinese government has placed environmental protection alongside development of the economy as one of the country’s top priorities , said Ye Rutang, vice-minister of construction, at the Chengdu International Conference on Urban Construction and the Environment for the 21st Century.

The three-day conference, which ends today, is co-sponsored by the United Nations Center for Human Settlements, China’s Ministry of Construction and Chengdu municipal government.

More than 2,000 years ago, the Chinese philosopher Lao Zi said: “If one possesses a comfortable home, it is easier for him to concentrate on work.” According to Ye, this philosophy is still relevant to everyone today.

Because China’s modern industry was initially slow in developing, many of the country’s cities are now facing ecological and environmental problems.

“Importance has been attached to the improvement of the urban ecological environment while accelerating urbanization,” the vice-minister said.

For many years, the Chinese government has made great efforts to improve air quality and control garbage, noise pollution and population growth in urban areas. It has also tried to solve problems concerning urban water supplies, energy, housing and traffic, in addition to supporting the construction of more green areas.

China has made noticeable achievements regarding improvement of the urban environment, the vice-minister said.

Chengdu's Fujiang and Nanjiang Rivers Comprehensive Revitalization Project is a good example of how to preserve the old and create the new which can be studied by other cities in China, he said. A city with 2,300 years of history, Chengdu is surrounded by the 29-km-long Fujiang and Nanjiang rivers, which converge with the Yangtze River in the city of Yibin in Sichuan Province.

Because of Chengdu’s booming economic development and rapidly increasing population, both rivers filled with silt and became narrow. Before they were harnessed, floods from both rivers caused annual economic losses valued at 24 million yuan (US$2.9 million).

From 1993 to 1997, Chengdu invested 3 billion yuan (US$362 million) in solving the problem by reinforcing the banks and planting trees and grass along the rivers.

Affordable housing has been provided to more than 30,000 households previously inhabiting along the banks of both rivers. A series of concomitant projects has been launched to deal with sewage, industrial effluent, infrastructure, transport and communications, parks and gardens. The project has brought 150 million yuan (US$18 million) in annual profits from tourism.

The project has won many major international awards, such as the 1998 Habitat Scroll of Honour Award and the 2000 Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment.

(China Daily 10/18/2000)

In This Series

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Chengdu to Hold “No Cars Day” in October

China Adopts Environment-Friendly Way to Dispose Rubbish



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