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Demo Zones Show Progress Need Not Cost Environment

Eighteen development zones and scenic spots across the country are being used to demonstrate how both environmental and economic development needs can be met simultaneously.

At a two-day forum that opened on Thursday in Haikou, Hainan Province, State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) Vice Minister Wang Yuqing called on environmental authorities nationwide to continue their efforts to promote ISO14000 certified demonstration areas.

The special zones show that economic development and environmental protection can be achieved at the same time, officials at the forum said.

The International Organization of Standardization established the ISO14000 standards in 1996 to help enterprises and organizations implement and improve their environmental management systems. China introduced the standards immediately.

In 1999, SEPA started to approve the building of ISO14000 demonstration areas with support from the ministries of science and technology and construction and the former Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation.

To date, nine economic development zones, five high-tech development zones and four scenic spots have been approved as national demonstration areas.

Wang said that building the areas helps to introduce internationally advanced environmental management concepts while pushing the sustainable development of regional economies.

According to Yin Gai, head of SEPA's Science, Technology and Standards Department, the 14 economic and high-tech development zones approved as demonstration areas contributed a combined 281.8 billion yuan (US$34.0 billion) to GDP last year.

GDP in such zones has been growing an average of 20 percent per annum in the past three years, far faster than normal local levels and often while consuming far less energy.

For example, the Wuxi High-tech Zone in east China's Jiangsu Province has contributed one-eighth of the Wuxi's economic output in the past three years, while its electricity consumption was only one-twentieth of city's total.

The improvements to the environment in the demonstration areas attract many investors while also satisfying the requirements of ISO14000 certification.

(China Daily November 26, 2004)


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