China should choose a green reform path to secure a healthy society for its future generations, said a UN official in Beijing Wednesday.
Khalid Malik, resident representative of the UN Development Program (UNDP), made the remark at a seminar on China's Human Development Report 2002, jointly held by the UNDP and the Environment and Resources Protection Committee (ERPC) under China's National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.
The China Human Development Report, funded by the UNDP, not only sketches a picture of the prevailing conditions and environment challenges in China, it also analyzes the root causes and historical developments that contributed to the current situation.
Regarding the challenges and uncertainties China is facing, it describes two possible alternative development scenarios for China, either of which will be the outcome of conscious policy choices, according to Si Han, one of report's authors.
Khalid said China's current policy decisions and activities are not enough to secure a sustainable future for the country. The combination of the pressure of a large and increasing population on already scare natural resources, and the critical state of the environment, coupled with a strong push for economic growth puts China in a uniquely challenging situation.
Khalid also made three suggestions for the achievement of sustainable development in China.
First, it is necessary to continue the public administration reform process in the direction of good governance for sustainable development, including improving the environmental legislative framework and its implementation.
Second, increased efforts and commitment are needed at all levels: non-governmental organizations, the media, academic institutions, private sectors and individuals.
Third, a more strategic form of environmental management is needed at all levels. In addition to administrative and campaign approaches, the implementation of the polluter-pays principle has to be deepened, and the environment has to be integrated into development plans and all legislation. Market-based instruments will have to be introduced to internalize environmental costs, he noted.
Sustainable development can not be achieved without a sound public health situation, which can only result from a pro-active health system, and sound lifestyle and consumption habits, said Junko Otani, a medical officer with the World Health Organization.
China is improving its sustainable development capability, which is one of the prerequisites for a well-off society, said Ye Rutang, vice-chairman of ERPC under the NPC Standing Committee.
"The suggestions underlined in the report, including building a legislative framework and putting market forces into environmental protection, are very helpful and to the point," said Ye.
Diplomats from seven embassies to China and legislators from 30 provinces attended the seminar, according to the organizer.
(Xinhua News Agency August 27, 2003)