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UNEP to Enhance Cooperation with China

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) will enhance its cooperation with China to combat environmental degradation in the world's most populous country, UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said in Beijing Tuesday.


“UNEP is going to expand its national office in China and cooperate more with the country in its efforts for sustainable development,” said Toepfer, who is here to attend the 20th anniversary of the prestigious Sasakawa Prize on environment.


UNEP opened an office here last year, its first in a developing country. The move has been welcomed by the Chinese government.


Toepfer pointed to the fact that China is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and that it is very important to take into account the environment while pursuing the agenda of economic growth.


Over the past 25 years, China's economy has been growing at an average yearly rate of about eight percent. Reckless pursuit of economic growth without considering the environmental costs, however, has resulted in serious environment degradation in some parts of the country.


Last year, the Chinese government began to embrace the concept of “scientific development,” the coordinated development among economy, society and environment.


Toepfer said through his talks with senior Chinese government officials over the past two days, he felt the policy change, as all the officials expressed strong commitment to environmental protection.


On Monday's ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Sasakawa Prize, Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan stressed the importance of resolutely carrying out the basic state policy of protecting the environment during the process of building an all-around well-off society.


Zeng pledged that China, as a responsible developing country, will strictly abide by its international obligations and actively participate in and push forward international cooperation on environmental protection.


A dozen laureates of the Sasakawa Prize attended the two-day celebrations, including Professor Mario Molina of the United States, winner of a Nobel Prize for solving the riddle of the Antarctic ozone hole, and former Japanese prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.


Huey Johnson, a Sasakawa laureate and founder of the Resources Renewal Institute, told journalists here that he was convinced that China was capable of solving the issue of environment degradation, citing the fact that China has successfully dealt with the challenges of famine and floods in the past.


(Xinhua News Agency September 29, 2004)

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