An international paper company has promised to protect the environment if it is allowed to build a paper mill in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in south China.
To make sure the Finnish-Swedish firm Stora Enso abides by its commitments, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) will monitor the company if it gets the go-ahead, said a China Daily report on Saturday.
The UNDP and Stora Enso signed a memorandum of understanding about the sustainable development plan this week, securing cooperation until 2010.
The deal focuses on the conservation of biodiversity in Guangxi and community projects involving health, water, hygiene, education and skills development.
This social program will involve up to 100,000 households in the area where the paper mill is expected to be built. "We would like to use this opportunity to demonstrate the potential of environmental and social impact assessments to promote sustainable development," said Renaud Meyer, UNDP's deputy resident representative in China.
In China, compulsory assessments about the environmental impact of a project are needed before they can be implemented.
However, there are still no laws or regulations in China to force firms to conduct social impact assessments before launching major projects, said Wang Weili, deputy director-general of the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges under the Ministry of Commerce.
Stora Enso, a leading global integrated manufacturer of paper products, set up a 120,000-hectare plantation in Guangxi, mainly of eucalyptus trees, in 2002.
(Xinhua News Agency April 1, 2006)