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Environment a Key Issue in Sustainable Development

China should take the path of environmentally friendly sustainable consumption and production while building a well-off society, senior officials and experts agreed yesterday.

The officials and experts, from home and abroad, are in Beijing for the second meeting of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development's (CCICED) third phase, which opened yesterday and will end on Saturday.


The meeting has the theme of "A Well-off Society and Sustainable Industrialization."


Many experts agree China has entered a crucial time and its environment will be ravaged if it fails to make the correct decisions for development, said Paul Thibault, president of the Canadian International Development Agency and a vice chairman of the council.


Mans Lonnroth, former state secretary of Sweden's Ministry of Environment and also a council vice chairman, said China's fast economic development leaves little time for thought and each sector is evolving in its own way.


It means co-ordination among different sectors has to be strengthened to stave off unsustainable development, he said.


Thibault said the Chinese government has already noticed the environmental challenge it faces and is making great efforts to find solution.


During the past year, China has enacted a series of environmental laws to promote cleaner production, introduced a requirement for environmental impact assessments and better controlled radioactive pollution, among other steps, according to China's Environmental Protection Administration Minister Xie Zhenhua.


Actions also include a nationwide campaign to inspect and close down or halt the production of enterprises which are responsible for pollution. Local governments in China are actively seeking practicable patterns of sustainable development, Xie, also a council vice chairman, said yesterday.


For example, several regions, including south China's Hainan, northeast China's Jilin and Heilongjiang, and east China's Fujian, Zhejiang, Shandong and Anhui provinces, are making efforts to become "eco-provinces." It basically means their economic development is striving to be in harmony with the local environment.


Xie said China must change its conventional practice which features high consumption and serious pollution with a low production capacity.


The country should instead adopt a high-tech system of low energy consumption and pollution with high efficiency, while making full use of its human resources.


Qu Geping, another council vice chairman, called for the establishment of a comprehensive policy making system for sustainable development as soon as possible.


The China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), a high-level non-governmental advisory body, was established by the State Council of China in 1992. It aims to strengthen cooperation and exchange between China and the international community on environmental and development issues.


The CCICED chairman is currently Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan. Members of the council are Chinese ministers and vice ministers, experts and professors in the fields of environment and development, as well as ministers from other countries and the leaders of international organizations.


The council, which meets annually, is currently in its third phase.


CCICED Phase I (1992 -1996) mainly carried out policy research on key environmental and development issues in China, and examined international experiences and best practice.


CCICED Phase II (1997 - 2001) drew on the earlier research to trial new policies in pilot projects.


State leaders meet with council members during the annual general meeting of CCICED and listen to their recommendations.


These recommendations are also distributed in written form to relevant ministries under the State Council and the provincial governments, which study them for possible adoption.


The ministries normally give their feedback on recommendations prior to the next annual general meeting.


(China Daily October 31, 2003)

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