Summary report, 2–5 June 2019

2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED)

At the 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) in Hangzhou, China, delegates deliberated on outcomes from its eight Special Policy Studies (SPS) and discussed draft recommendations informed by the findings. The recommendations aim to help shape China’s environment and development policies and practice, including its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is promoting trade links and channeling infrastructure investment to countries in the Asia Pacific, Africa, and Europe.

Senior government representatives highlighted China’s commitment to building an “ecological civilization,” a policy concept that has been integrated into the country’s overall development plan since 2012. China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) also launched a report on Air Quality Improvement 2013-2018 at the meeting.

The discussions recognized China’s achievements in environmental planning and monitoring, including its successes and remaining challenges in improving air quality, mitigating climate change, and promoting nature-based solutions domestically. International delegates urged China to help BRI partner countries avoid becoming locked-in to outdated, polluting technologies, and to help them meet their respective commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Many delegates looked forward to the leadership role that China will play as host of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 15) in October 2020, which is expected to put in place a post-2020 framework for the global governance of biodiversity, with the aim of halting biodiversity loss worldwide. The development of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (FYP), which will cover the years 2021-2025, was also a major pillar of the AGM, with delegates discussing priorities for it and emphasizing the need to align it with achieving both Chinese and global priorities for sustainability.

The meeting reviewed a draft issues paper prepared by the CCICED Secretariat, which outlined the environment and development challenges ahead for China, and discussed CCICED’s eight draft recommendations, which seek to:

  • promote green consumption and drive green transformation;
  • keep pace with the changes of the digital era while experimenting with new models of urbanization and regional development;
  • establish a mid- to long-term environmental protection strategy for the Yangtze River Economic Belt (YREB), including an ecological compensation scheme;
  • enhance integrated management to address climate change;
  • encourage major technological innovations and creative institutional designs in the environmental field;
  • make biodiversity conservation a national strategy, thus providing a positive example internationally;
  • promote marine sustainable development and step up China’s contribution to global marine governance; and
  • make the green development of the BRI an important vehicle for global ecological civilization and a green community with a shared future.

Participants in the AGM included high-level government representatives and heads of international organizations, including leaders from China’s MEE, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), and the World Resources Institute (WRI).

The AGM was preceded by the presentation of SPS findings and recommendations on the morning of 2 June, and six parallel open forums that afternoon. The parallel forums covered:

  • High-quality development and green transition during the 14th FYP period;
  • Post-Katowice global climate governance;
  • Global Vision 2050 for biodiversity conservation;
  • Blue economy and global ocean governance;
  • Belt and Road Initiative and green urbanization; and
  • Global environment governance and best industry practice.

In each forum, participants discussed global trends and developments, and offered recommendations for best practice as well as for CCICED’s inputs to the Chinese government.

The AGM itself then took place from 3-4 June, and included a site visit to Anji County, Zhejiang Province, for delegates to learn about China’s Green Rural Revival programme.

Many CCICED delegates stayed on in Hangzhou for World Environment Day celebrations on 5 June, which were organized on the theme ‘Beat Air Pollution.’ A written message from President Xi Jinping, China, to all delegates at the event emphasized China’s commitment to multilateralism as an approach for solving shared environmental problems.

Around 700 participants attended the AGM, and more than 1,100 participants attended World Environment Day celebrations in Hangzhou.

This summary report provides coverage of the SPS and AGM discussions, site visit, and World Environment Day event.  

A Brief History of the CCICED

Established in 1992, CCICED is a high-level international advisory body comprising members and experts from government, businesses, international organizations, research institutions and social organizations from China and abroad. CCICED’s main tasks are to study critical environment and development issues facing China, and to provide policy recommendations to the Chinese government.

By providing a platform for international exchange on sustainable development, the Council seeks to “enable the international community to understand China, and support China’s engagement in the world.” CCICED pursues this aim by carrying out comprehensive, cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary research that integrates environmental, economic, and social concerns and draws on advanced international concepts, policies, technologies, and best practices.

Research: Since its inception, CCICED has carried out hundreds of research projects involving more than one thousand Chinese and international experts, and put forward hundreds of policy recommendations on issues ranging from pollution control to cleaner production, biodiversity conservation, energy and environment, circular economy, low-carbon economy, ecological compensation, the social dimensions of environmental protection, sustainable consumption, media and public participation policies, corporate social responsibility, green supply chain, and green finance. The Council has also partnered with national and local authorities to pilot its policy recommendations, including those on sustainable consumption, environmental information disclosure, and environmental risk management.

Policy Recommendations: CCICED’s annual policy recommendations are circulated as official government documents by the MEE to China’s State Council and local governments, providing a reference for policy makers at all levels. CCICED’s Chair, Han Zheng, is also a Vice-Premier of China’s State Council, responsible for environmental protection. Many of the Council’s recommendations have been incorporated into subsequent policies, institutions, systems and standards. Since 2008, the support team for CICCED’s Chinese and international chief advisors has produced an annual report that tracks progress of China’s environment and development policies as well as the impact of CCICED’s policy recommendations.

Events: In addition to its AGM, CCICED holds various events throughout the year. In 2018, these included: an International Business Roundtable on Innovation and Green Development, held in Changsha, China; a Dialogue on Mainstreaming the Gender Dimension into Green Development, held in Vancouver, Canada; a Roundtable on Global Governance and Ecological Civilization, held in Brussels, Belgium; and various special seminars on green urbanization, climate change, biodiversity conservation, green BRI, ocean protection, and rural environmental improvement.

Phase VI Priorities: CCICED Phase VI commenced in 2017 and will run until 2021. During this phase, four Task Forces, each facilitated by one Chinese and one international co-chair, are focusing on, respectively:

  • global governance and ecological civilization;
  • green urbanization and environmental improvement;
  • innovation, sustainable production and consumption; and
  • green energy, investment and trade.

A number of SPS are being conducted under the aegis of each Task Force. In addition, CCICED initiates short-term and rapid response studies on emerging issues.

Report of the 2019 AGM

CCICED Policy Research Dialogue

Reports on SPS research findings: Liu Shijin, CCICED Chinese Chief Advisor and Vice-Chair, China Development Research Foundation, and Scott Vaughan, CCICED International Chief Advisor and former CEO, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), co-chaired the dialogue. Vaughan expressed warm appreciation for the efforts of all involved, and Liu introduced presentations on the various SPS, inviting participants to comment.

Global climate governance and China’s role: Wang Yi, member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, and Vice-President, Institutes of Science and Development, China, stated that challenges due to the global uncertainty in multilateralism remain, and that China’s commitment to playing a leading role in global climate governance is unchanged. In discussing policy recommendations, Wang highlighted the need to: accelerate decarbonization of the Chinese economy; speed up the structural transformation of energy consumption; deepen policy integration and co-management of economic transformation, energy transition, environmental quality, and climate protection; enhance research and capacity building in adaptation and nature-based solutions; make climate and environmental sustainability a key component of the BRI; and diversify funding sources for climate finance.

Post-2020: Global biodiversity conservation: Li Lin, Director of Global Policy and Advocacy, WWF International, stressed that global indicators on biodiversity health continue to decline. She pointed to the opportunities in the lead-up to CBD COP15 for China to work with international leaders to “bend the curve” and reverse this trend in the coming decades. She stressed that the biodiversity community could learn from the climate community in aiming to replicate the success of the Paris Agreement, including in mobilizing non-state actors. The SPS recommended that China should: aim to ensure global leaders’ commitments to a high-quality COP 15 outcome; accelerate greening of the BRI within and outside China, including through the International Coalition for Green Development on the Belt and Road (the Green BRI Coalition) announced at the Second Belt and Road Forum, which took place in 2019; and integrate biodiversity actions more effectively into China’s 14th FYP.

Global ocean governance and ecological civilization: Jan-Gunnar Winther, CCICED member and Specialist Director, Norwegian Polar Institute, outlined the needs for addressing marine pollution through: promoting joint action to address land-ocean interactions; implementing integrated life-cycle management for plastics and a plan for maritime pollution prevention; developing a market system for managing marine pollution and plastics including compensation for protecting marine ecology using diverse funding mechanisms; and fostering international collaboration and partnerships. In terms of maritime operations policy, he recommended: enforcing stricter requirements on maritime operations; building ecological ships and ports; anticipating the impacts of Arctic trade routes that may open up due to melting of sea ice; providing education and training; and promoting sustainable fisheries management.

Green urbanization strategy and pathways toward regional integrated development: Zhang Yongsheng, CCICED special advisor and Vice Director-General, Department of Development Strategy and Regional Economy of the Development Research Center of the State Council, emphasized that China’s current urbanization model is unsustainable and must be redefined. This, he said, requires valuing spiritual and environmental goods, not only material production and consumption. With an estimated 300 million more Chinese expected to move to cities in coming decades, Zhang also stressed the importance of developing green transport and infrastructure to accommodate this. He suggested that green urbanization in the 20 city clusters accounting for 90% of China’s GDP and 70% of its population can drive green transformation nationwide. He also emphasized that the expansion of high-speed rail and digital connectivity now means the delivery of many services can be decentralized and that rural areas can now support diverse economic activities beyond agriculture.

Ecological compensation and green development institutional reform in the YREB: Amy Leung, Director-General, East Asia Department, Asian Development Bank (ADB), highlighted policy recommendations to: strengthen the capacity for pollution control and ecological conservation, and addressing plastic, chemical, and toxic pollution; develop an integrated mountain-to-sea vision for the planning and management of the watershed; develop performance-based indicators for ecological restoration, accountability, and investment; improve the effectiveness of ecological compensation and diversify funding sources to support it; and establish a digital Yangtze River data platform to support regional planning and improve supply chain traceability.

Goals and pathways for environmental improvement in 2035: Wolfgang Seidel, German Federal Environment Agency, listed four major challenges for environmental improvement: the continued industrial transformation of various sectors; the need to integrate environmental protection into other fields; public awareness; and the consistency of desired goals with existing policies. With a view to enhancing both the wellbeing of people and the protection of natural resources while acknowledging regional differences, he proposed: setting up demonstration zones to promote the ‘Beautiful China’ concept; integrating environmental and social policy and establishing a green evaluation system for industry; optimizing environmental governance structures; enhancing public awareness; and increasing the capacity of the judiciary to handle environmental issues and enhance people’s access to environmental justice.

Green transition and sustainable social governance: Åsa Romson, senior researcher, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, and former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, highlighted the dramatic changes in the volume and patterns of consumption in China as the population has moved beyond a subsistence economy. She explained the SPS had worked on defining green consumption, noting the importance of developing sound policies. She reported that existing policies are largely voluntary, while products available on the market tend to focus more on energy efficiency and less on ecological protection. She urged further research and development of a national strategy for promoting behavior change toward green lifestyles, noting the opportunities inherent in the current digital transformation. She presented recommendations to promote green consumption through: increasing the supply of green products, promoting eco-labels, and strengthening certification systems; developing a circular economy; conducting lifestyle campaigns; improving market incentives; building infrastructure capacity; and establishing a robust indicator system.

Green BRI and 2030 SDGs: Aban Marker Kabraji, Regional Director, Asia Regional Office, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), emphasized the close links between BRI objectives and the SDGs. She highlighted that China will bring not only funding and expertise but also its culture and thinking to BRI implementation in coming decades, and that this will influence how the world approaches development cooperation. She noted international commentators had welcomed President Xi Jinping’s speech at the Second BRI Forum, where he addressed several international concerns about BRI implementation, including adherence to standards, respect for national laws, and debt issues. She acknowledged that BRI’s massive scope meant a need for replicable, high-quality design models. She noted a coordination mechanism could assist in identifying synergies between the work of the various SPS on ocean, biodiversity, energy, and climate.

Zhou Guomei, Deputy Director-General, International Environmental Cooperation Center, MEE, China, outlined the SPS’s policy recommendations on the BRI to: play an active role in climate governance; develop a strategic alignment mechanism promoting coordination and implementation of strategies with policies, plans, standards, and technologies; establish a risk prevention mechanism to guide green investment and environmental impact assessments; build a project management mechanism to encourage businesses to implement green development practices; and promote people-to-people bonds to strengthen human resource exchange and capacity building.

Comments by Task Force Co-Chairs: Xie Zhenhua, CCICED Vice-Chair, and China’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, thanked and congratulated each task force on progress made. He highlighted environmental protection as “the endogenous growth engine” for economic development, emphasizing that maritime pollution, climate change, biodiversity, and other areas mentioned in the policy research dialogue will become crucial to increasing security and growth. On climate governance, he stressed the need for a synergistic approach to climate adaptation and mitigation in support of the forthcoming 25th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 25), and CBD COP 15. On biodiversity protection, he noted synergies with action on climate change and efforts to green the BRI. On marine governance, he highlighted the land-based sources of ocean pollution, and the need to introduce systemic mountain-to-sea governance of watersheds. He also noted calls for a circular economy and risk assessments of the BRI, based on benchmarking of standards.

Liu, CCICED Chinese Chief Advisor, and China Development Research Foundation, highlighted the growth of metropolitan clusters in areas such as Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Beijing as being crucial to the future development of China. He noted that suburban developments are contributing to an increase in construction and development, therefore new institutional arrangements are needed to green the construction industry and create sustainable cities.

Marco Lambertini, Director-General, WWF International, stressed that the challenge of accommodating a growing global population and rising middle class while at the same time preserving Earth’s ecology, requires radically reforming systems of production and consumption. This, he noted, will require the sustainable use of resources that derive from terrestrial and marine life, achieving net-zero land conversion, and achieving circular economies. Lambertini also said that the shift in China and other countries towards consumption-led growth models creates opportunities for promoting green consumption, including through campaigns that highlight health outcomes and other co-benefits. Finally, he noted the cross-cutting nature of the task force’s work on sustainable production and consumption.

Bernice Lee, Executive Director, Hoffmann Centre, Chatham House, underscored the importance of green infrastructure in mitigating climate change and enhancing quality of life. She emphasized the government’s role in actively shaping demand, advancing green consumption patterns and the circular economy, and addressing challenges in the food and land use system. She pointed to the importance of digital technologies in, for example, shortening the demand chain, and to the role of trade as an instrument to internalize externalities and deliver on sustainability goals.

In subsequent comments from the floor, participants welcomed the richness of the material presented, noting multiple synergies and common themes. To further the work, they proposed establishing a small team to conduct modeling and spatial planning exercises as aids to formulating targets and policies. In this regard, Vaughan mentioned ongoing discussions on scenario development.

Participants called for addressing the critical role of seagrass beds and tidal flats in ocean governance, and for holding focused discussions on how to showcase the work of CCICED when China hosts CBD COP 15.

In closing remarks, Liu called for a focus on generating new ideas, viewpoints, and methodologies for sustainable development. He said that research should also concentrate on addressing particular pain points in the quest for transformations toward sustainability. He noted that, while pollution control has dominated past discussions, currently green consumption has risen as a key topic on the international agenda. He highlighted the emergence of large “green markets,” based on innovation, availability of financing, and the need to facilitate trade in green goods.

Parallel Open Forums

High-quality development and green transition during the 14th five-year plan (FYP) period: The forum was co-chaired by Li Ganjie, CCICED Executive Vice-Chair and Minister, MEE, China, with Erik Solheim, CCICED Vice-Chair and senior advisor, WRI. In the opening session, Li emphasized the need for harmony between man and nature. He noted efforts that China has made towards green transformation to date, including: supply-side production reform; mandatory clean production audits; increasing investment in pollution control at a rate higher than most other policy areas; and developing open and transparent environmental markets. Li said that local environmental protection bureaus should be able to force technological upgrading and that the 14th FYP represents a new start for China after reaching its centennial goal of becoming “a moderately prosperous society.”

Solheim emphasized that changing one word, from “high-speed” to “high-quality” growth, could have an enormous impact on China’s development. He proposed three recommendations for the 14th FYP: building a positive narrative for green transformation, including through concepts such as ‘green is gold’ and ‘Beautiful China,’ emphasizing the co-benefits of sustainable development for health and jobs; placing people at the center of policy; and sharing not only China’s technology, but also its best practices such as Zhejiang Province’s clean-up of its rivers.

Zheng Xinli, Administrative Chair, China Association of Policy Science, emphasized that China will not follow the consumption path of the US, and will instead learn from the energy-saving and recycling practices of Northern Europe. He stressed that to achieve the SDGs and reach net-zero carbon emissions in the second half of this century, China must solve the pollution issues left behind by the previous 40 years of fast growth, including by integrating green urbanization into the 14th FYP, enhancing third party management for pollution control, and strictly enforcing environmental legislation.

Li Ganjie moderated the session on the environmental, economic, and social trends, challenges, and opportunities during China’s 14th FYP period, and first invited Liu Jian, Chief Scientist, UNEP, to share key findings of UNEP’s 6th Global Environmental Outlook report. Noting the seriousness of the global environmental crisis, he likened the number of premature deaths caused by environmental factors to the death toll of the World War I and II.

Liu recommended that the 14th FYP encourage: consuming more plant-based protein rather than meat; stepping up Chinese leadership in global efforts to enhance Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) on climate; and implementing sustainable production and consumption.

Peng Jiaxue, Vice-Governor, Zhejiang Province, underscored: putting people first when developing environmental governance; avoiding one-size-fits-all solutions; establishing performance evaluation systems for local officials that align with local realities; and encouraging citizens to actively participate as volunteer environmental inspectors.

Lu Jun, Director-General, Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning, stressed that China’s BRI efforts must both honor existing international agreements and help improve international institutions with Chinese ideas. He recommended: promoting industrial restructuring; funding waste treatment; and developing integrated pollution monitoring.

Finn Pratt, Secretary, Department of the Environment and Energy, Australia, expressed support for the 14th FYP’s emphasis on green consumption and circular economy. He said Australia’s approach to circular economy is prioritizing action on plastics, promoting demand for recycled materials, and working with industry.

Hu Baolin, CCICED special advisor, underscored the need for China to remain committed to its environmental objectives despite the slowdown in economic growth, but expressed concern that this may not be happening at the local level. He also encouraged better engagement of the public in environmental efforts, including by promoting channels for citizen reporting on pollution.

Zhu Baoliang, Head, Economic Forecasting Department, National Information Center, China, emphasized the need to focus on boosting total factor productivity, noting that it has fallen since the 2008 financial crisis. He proposed promoting: technological innovation and circular economy; green urbanization; green consumption; supply side reform; and suggested that international climate cooperation could be a catalyst to help improve overall global multilateralism.

Wu Shunzu, Director-General, Policy Research Center for Environment and Ecology, MEE, China, suggested that a useful framing for China’s environmental progress in the coming decades could be “stable improvement” by 2020 and “overall improvement” by 2030. The former is important, he said, because current improvements remain inconsistent. Wu also called for the 14th FYP to focus on “how to do it” rather than only on “what to do.”

Brendan Gillespie, Green Solutions Network, pointed out that China’s low economic productivity is concentrated in a small number of highly polluting sectors, such as steel manufacturing, thereby creating an opportunity for simultaneously achieving industrial upgrading and better environmental performance. He also called for removing environmentally harmful subsidies and accelerating the exit of unprofitable firms from ailing sectors, stressing that targeted social welfare should support such transitions.

Solheim moderated the session on the environmental, economic, and social trends, challenges, and opportunities during China’s 14th FYP period, first giving the floor to Wang Yiming, Vice President of the Development Research Center of the State Council, who highlighted growing demographic pressures in China, including a declining working age population and increasing dependency ratio. He also made the case that China is at a point of peak environmental pressure, with many pollutants, including CO2, approaching turning points when emissions will peak and then begin to decline.

Maria Krautzberger, President, German Federal Environment Agency, underscored that “a green economy is an innovative economy,” but that many environmental challenges can also be solved with traditional approaches. She shared four recommendations from the SPS on Goals and Pathways for Environmental Improvement in 2035: anticipatory planning, including through scenario analysis; bottom-up approaches, particularly through environmental information disclosure and public participation; technological innovation; and strengthening the rule of law and judicial capacity.

Ren Yong, Director-General, Environmental Development Center, MEE, China, noted that although pollution from industry is plateauing, it is increasing at the household level. He said that the 14th FYP must also be compiled with an eye towards achieving national environment and development policy targets by 2035 and international climate policy targets by 2050. Ren also shared conclusions from a State Council task force on green consumption, observing that, although green consumption is critical and has been growing in China, its growth has leveled off in recent years.

Rodolfo Lacy, Director of Environment, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), emphasized the importance of aligning China’s 14th FYP with: a revised NDC under the Paris Agreement, post-2020 biodiversity targets, the new scheme for chemicals and waste management, and new guiding principles for oceans, all of which will be determined in the next 18 months. He called for the global standardization of environmental economic instruments, such as green bonds, and for the updating of environmental monitoring metrics to account for new challenges, such as pollution from microplastics and nanomaterials.

Gao Shiji, Head of Resource and Environment Policy Institute, Development Research Center of the State Council, stressed the importance of technology in resource conservation. He also highlighted how necessity can induce innovation, pointing to the progress made on renewable energy and energy efficiency after the 1980s oil crises in Iceland and Japan, respectively.

Li Junfeng, CCICED advisor and former Director-General, National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, expressed his concern about the quality of growth in eastern coastal China, pointing out that the proportion of coal used in these provinces is on average 10% higher than the rest of China. He also noted that the per capita CO2 emissions of China’s western provinces now exceeds that of the US, and called for Zhejiang to host an international green consumption expo to promote sustainable lifestyle changes.

In the open discussion, a participant shared examples of the private sector supporting green transformation, including through using purchasing power to encourage green behavior by suppliers and establishing partnerships to offer favorable credit to facilitate this. To a question on how to make companies pay for the pollution they cause, Li highlighted the promulgation of environmental taxes and incentives in China since 2018, which have penalized companies and provincial authorities for failing to meet environmental targets, and rewarded those who exceed targets. In response to a question about waste reduction and circular economy, he noted the forthcoming launch of zero waste pilot cities and China’s progress in drafting new waste prevention laws. In response to a question about sustainable business models, he highlighted their importance, noted the need for private capital to fund pollution treatment in China, and encouraged international partners to participate in this work.

In closing remarks, Li made three additional points about the 14th FYP, saying that: it must provide a long-term perspective and overall strategic view of the road ahead; investment in research and development (R&D) is critical and companies must be mobilized to innovate and commercialize their research; and development plans should guard against unnecessary risk and be based on sound scientific research. He voiced support for the idea of not just looking at what to do but how to do it, suggesting that failing to do the latter was a weakness of previous FYPs.

Post-Katowice global climate governance: Co-Chair Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, introduced the topic, noting that the final outcome of the Katowice Climate Change Conference reflected increased confidence in the international community’s ability to deal with the gravity of climate change. He noted however, that “there is still a long way to go,” as the obligations of the Paris Agreement present countries with some serious challenges. He remarked that China is the biggest developing country and its sustainable development strategy cannot be left to others, saying “it is our job.” He added that technological and institutional innovation can see China embarking on a path of low-carbon development becoming the engine of the Chinese economy.

Co-chair Romson noted that, when the Paris Agreement was negotiated, China had been the key player in the accord, facilitating the first step towards a solid agreement. She added that the role of China is now even more important, following the subsequent decision of the US to withdraw from the agreement.

Joyce Msuya, UNEP Acting Executive Director, noted that 2019 is a make or break year for the planet. She highlighted that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and scientific community have sounded the alarm, adding that, “fast speed is the only option left, as moving slowly is as good as standing.” Msuya noted that this year China is leading on addressing air pollution, which is a global public health emergency that is costing society around the world approximately USD 5 trillion. She concluded that China’s pursuit of an ecological civilization recognizes that a low-carbon lifestyle is not a choice but a necessity, adding that, “if we do not bring back blue skies, we will not achieve the SDGs.”

Kate Hampton, CEO, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), said that the climate crisis is a shocking reality with nine out of 10 people suffering the impacts of air pollution. She noted that green political parties are gaining momentum and youth activism is gaining increased legitimacy. She concluded that there is great momentum across the world, but that this is at risk of being sidelined, if narrow commercial interests are prioritized over the shared future of humanity.

Zou Ji, CCICED special advisor and President of the Energy Foundation, China, emphasized China’s special role in the climate arena. He added that China needs to be more active and make greater contributions on climate change.

He Jiankun, Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Tsinghua University, stated that China needs to build a circular economy with low-carbon development, transform consumption and production patterns to increase energy efficiency, reduce carbon intensity per unit of GDP, and contribute its wisdom to the global environmental governance community.

Scott Vaughan, CCICED International Chief Advisor, recommended that China could: reduce the use of coal in its energy mix, identifying a bridging fuel to replace coal in the short term; evaluate issues related to short-lived climate pollutants; anticipate opportunities in cooling technology, as most production of cooling units is likely to take place in China; and assess the role of peatlands and grasslands in carbon sequestration.

Ajay Mathur, Director-General, The Energy and Resources Institute, said that China needs to move quickly to achieve the commitments contained in its NDC, in particular the aspects related to use of renewables and decarbonization of its electricity sector. He added that a coalition of companies is needed to work together on these technologies, as well as coalitions of developed and developing countries.

Howard Bamsey, Chair, Global Water Partnership, noted that there are compelling arguments for continuing Chinese leadership after Paris. He observed that the most effective climate change action is friendly to both adaptation and mitigation.

Alexander Fisher, German Development Agency, highlighted that Germany and China have accepted that climate change needs to be addressed through cooperation. He added that low-carbon urbanization is key for China as its urban population increases.

The open discussion focused on the role of energy efficiency and the potential of nature-based solutions such as peatlands and grasslands for carbon sequestration.

Wang Yi suggested that an increased carbon price will help the carbon market operate more efficiently.

Jonathan Pershing, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, remarked that the world has to decarbonize by 2050, and that this goal cannot be reached without action on the part of China. He warned there is still a long way to go to limit global warming to below 2°C, and urged China to provide international leadership on this issue.

Jorgen Thomsen, MacArthur Foundation, highlighted that nature-based solutions provide untapped opportunities, such as sequestering excess carbon in soil.

Ma Aimin, Deputy Director-General, National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, China, said that China needs to integrate climate action into the development plans of all its regions and sectors.

David Sandalow, Columbia University, encouraged China to be a global leader in investing in carbon dioxide removal, nature-based solutions, and carbon capture and storage.

Manish Bapna, Executive Vice-President and Managing Director, WRI, noted that China has an opportunity to think about how it can contribute to deforestation-free supply chains, mentioning timber and palm oil as opportunities for China to influence CBD COP 15 to reduce carbon emissions from land use change.

William McGoldrick, Director of Climate Change, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), said that China is a success story when it comes to reforestation and commercially-viable, modern approaches to logging.

Global Vision 2050 for biodiversity conservation: CCICED member Marco Lambertini, Director-General, WWF International, and CCICED special advisor Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, GEF, co-chaired the forum, which comprised two sessions, first on biodiversity conservation and second on ‘a new journey to a shared goal by 2050.’ In opening remarks, Lambertini noted positive growing public awareness about biodiversity loss, which, he said, has become as catastrophic as climate change in recent years. Ishii highlighted the importance of action on the ground to address food and land use sustainability.

In the session on biodiversity conservation for achieving an ecological civilization, Art Hanson, Distinguished Fellow, IISD, gave the first keynote speech. He reviewed some of the progress that China has made in addressing biodiversity issues and called for both top down policy design and bottom up action in achieving China’s proposed ecological civilization.

Wang Li, Deputy Director, Eighth Procuratorate Office, Supreme People’s Procuratorate, introduced improvements in China’s legal and regulation system for biodiversity conservation, which include the development of provincial-level biodiversity regulations and lawsuits to punish environmentally-destructive behavior. She mentioned two specific cases in which illegal fishing activities in Jiangsu and Qinghai provinces had been prosecuted.

In the ensuing discussion, Jack Hurd, TNC, said that China’s ecological redline policy, an approach to land-use planning that sets limits for environmental degradation, could be a model for others in the conservation of ecologically sensitive areas.

Li Shan, Alipay Foundation, reviewed Ant Forest, a mobile program that enables hundreds of millions of mobile users to earn credit through environmentally-friendly behaviors, which can be used to support reforestation and preservation of threatened species.

Zhang Qingfeng, ADB, emphasized the important role that natural capital investment plays in filling financing gaps in the Yangtze River watershed preservation efforts.

Ouyang Zhiyun, Deputy Director, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, drew attention to several looming challenges, including: lack of real government action to achieve the Aichi Targets; overexploitation of natural resources in poor regions; insufficient research on the state of biodiversity; and disparity in the distribution of nature reserves in China. He recommended: lifting the level of attention to biodiversity preservation in the UN system to match that of climate change issues; urging developed countries to greater contributions to biodiversity; and setting up a compensation system for preservation efforts.

Lu Zhi, Peking University, emphasized the importance of “revitalizing social norms” to support public voluntary biodiversity preservation efforts, giving the example of the powerful role religion plays in Tibetans’ harmonious coexistence with nature.

Yang Rui, Tsinghua University, called for: mainstreaming targets for preserving natural areas, including through specific ecological laws; integrating progress in nature preservation into local officials’ performance evaluation systems; setting up an index of ecosystem services to quantify the value of each reserve area; and making nature preservation a part of compulsory education.

Dimitri de Boer, Client Earth, encouraged enhancing citizens’ access to the ecological redline information platform so that they can participate in monitoring and reporting of infringements.

In the session on ‘A new journey to a shared goal by 2020,’ Joyce Msuya, UNEP, gave the keynote address. She recognized progress made by countries so far, mentioning Costa Rica’s work in curbing deforestation and China’s efforts to build an ecological civilization. The latter, she said, has laid a foundation for promoting new economic models while also demonstrating China’s leadership in climate action.

Cui Shuhong, MEE, stated that, given the historic challenges described in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) global assessment, China as the host country for CBD COP 15 would like to work with other members on “bending the curve” of nature loss before 2030.

Alexander Shestakov, CBD Secretariat, outlined progress on consultations toward the post-2020 biodiversity framework, highlighting regional consultations, synthesis of submissions, and the Sharm El-Sheikh to Kunming Action Agenda for Nature.

Wei Fuwen, Chinese Academy of Sciences, proposed promoting ecological civilization by supporting the traditional Taoist concept of the unity of people with nature. He made further suggestions for sequencing of actions toward achieving the target of expanding protected areas to cover 50% of the Earth by 2050.

Olivier Robinet, Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition, France, shared France’s vision for a successful CBD COP 15, and called for: applying global targets to everyone; gathering commitments from governments before COP 15 to promote momentum toward a strong outcome; and actively involving stakeholders, especially those from the business sector and local governments.

In the ensuing discussions, Basile van Havre, Co-Chair, Open-Ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, highlighted a role for CCICED in fostering debate, innovation, and information sharing; integration across conventions; and developing Asian regional engagement.

Hideki Minamikawa, President, Japan Environmental Sanitation Center, introduced Japanese innovative practices, including the introduction of an offshore seabed nature conservation area and a successful community-based initiative that has brought back the crested ibis, once thought to be extinct, to an agricultural region, demonstrating the possibility for harmony between agricultural activities and biodiversity preservation.

Dominic Waughray, CCICED special advisor and Head of Environmental Initiatives, World Economic Forum (WEF), emphasized the significance of sustainable landscape management in achieving biodiversity preservation goals.

Harvey Locke, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, outlined common strategies for biodiversity conservation and sustainable land use in cities and farms, shared lands, and large wild areas.

Peter White, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), compared the mechanisms of the Paris Agreement and the CBD, calling for business solutions and setting up similar coalitions and frameworks for action commitments.

Wu Ning, Director, Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, shared his views on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, noting the increasing capability of most countries in evaluating and fulfilling national determined goals. He also called on the scientific community to give governments more policy recommendations to effectively promote real change on the ground.

Peng Kui, Program Manager, Global Environmental Institute, reminded participants that poor and remote areas are normally the most fragile in terms of biological preservation and called for more community-based preservation efforts by NGOs to complement legal measures and protected areas.

In closing remarks, Ishii reflected on challenges of the Anthropocene and called for timely and implementable plans to address these. Lambertini reiterated that a successful CBD COP 15 in Kunming in 2020 will be vital to changing the current situation in biodiversity preservation, and highlighted that nature conservation is becoming mainstreamed at various levels, including through political commitments, and action on the part of the business sector and society at large.

Blue economy and global ocean governance: Zhao Yingmin, CCICED Secretary-General, and Vice-Minister, MEE, China, co-chaired the forum with Su Jilan, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The forum addressed three themes: the environmental impacts of the shipping industry; plastic pollution; and the restoration of marine biodiversity through sustainable fishery development.

On the environmental impacts of the shipping industry, Zhao highlighted the role of oceans in China’s aim to develop an ecological civilization, and drew attention to various improvements in China’s regulatory framework, including: revisions of the Maritime Law and new regulations on coastal region pollution; advances in restoration and preservation of key areas; development of national monitoring systems; and increased international cooperation and education. Noting that matters related to oceans are now being managed by the MEE, he expressed confidence that this change will ensure enhanced integration of land and ocean management.

Su highlighted the tight linkages between the rapid growth of China’s GDP and the ocean economy, underscoring the critical need for attention to marine ecosystems. On fisheries, he noted the impacts of overfishing and habitat loss. On plastics, he pointed to the high rate of ingestion of microplastics by fish and the threats posed by society’s increased plastic consumption coupled with the slow degradation of plastics in the marine environment.

In opening remarks, Jan-Gunnar Winther, Director, Norwegian Polar Institute, noted that each one of the 17 SGDs is relevant to the ocean. He called for greater resolve in goal setting, and learning from successful local actions.

Dai Minhan, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Xiamen University, drew attention to the unprecedented pressures facing marine ecosystems and the need for new patterns of action. Noting that “the ocean is what makes earth inhabitable” and yet is largely unexplored, he underscored the need for long-term monitoring, development of systemic methodologies, integrated land and ocean management, and regional coordination.

Amy Leung, ADB, presented the ADB’s Action Plan on Healthy Ocean and Sustainable Blue Economies. She focused on increasing investment in, inter alia, sustainable tourism and fisheries, protection and restoration of coastal areas, reduction of plastic pollution, and sustainable coastal infrastructure development. She also highlighted the ADB’s Oceans Financing Initiative, which includes an investment target of USD 5 billion in the next five years.

Zhang Kunkun, China Maritime Safety Administration, presented efforts in the shipping sector to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, noting that emissions from shipping are low relative to the sector’s role in the economy. He pointed to the challenges facing the industry, including the increasing demand for waterborne transport, the restricted potential for energy saving and the limited availability of new fuels. He referred to International Maritime Organization regulations on GHG emission reductions and noted China’s improvements in energy efficiency, in particular for new ships.

In the session on ocean protection from declaring war on plastic pollution, Dechen Tsering, UNEP, elaborated on outcomes from the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly on marine litter, noting that 79% of plastic finds its way into oceans and that human bodies now also contain microplastics. She drew attention to plastic reduction initiatives in Kenya and Indonesia and, recalling the goal of zero waste by 2050, called for a transformative change in the way that resources are consumed.

Saying that only 9% of plastic worldwide is recycled, Wang Juying, National Marine Environmental Monitoring Center, acknowledged problems of data comparability and noted China’s high waste incineration and recycling rates compared to the global average, calling for a holistic program to address this issue.

Sonja Wegge, MacArthur Foundation, noted that only 2% of all plastic is recycled into high-value plastic and that 95% of plastics’ material value is lost every year. In light of this, she called for a new plastics economy, bringing together all actors in the system, and for adopting circularity. She referred to initiatives such as the Global Commitment, organized together with IUCN and UNEP, and the Plastics Pact, which now includes 20% of industry, 400 signatories, and 16 governments.

In ensuing comments, Laura Phillips, Senior Vice-President, Walmart, noted the heightened public concern over the environmental cost of plastics, which, she said, had prompted Walmart to address the issue. Among actions undertaken, she identified the phase-out of plastic bags, the first plastics footprint assessment, working with suppliers to eliminate unnecessary plastic packaging, and introducing recycling-related labeling. She said that while there is no simple answer to plastics, Walmart has adopted a goal of full recyclability by 2025, and that it stands ready to work with China to address this problem.

Zhang Jiantao, Vice-President, Coca-Cola China, expressed Coca-Cola’s intention to be a market leader in a world without waste, and its vision to use 100% recyclable plastic by 2050. He pointed to Coca-Cola’s patenting of plant-based plastic for bottles, as well as 35 other patents in packaging, as progress towards this goal.

Zhou Bing, Dell Technologies, Greater China, pointed to recycled plastic incorporated in Dell’s computers and the replacement of plastic packaging with bamboo and other compostable and recyclable material as part of their efforts in the war on plastic.

Zhang Jianyu, Vice-President, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), together with Hu Wei, Vice-Mayor of Hangzhou City, and Wang Lin, President of Cainiao Smart Logistics Network LTD, launched the Less Plastic, Greener City initiative to develop green logistics in China.

Hu spoke on Hangzhou’s strategy for environmental protection, which led to Hangzhou becoming the first national eco-city in China, and of Hangzhou’s leadership role as a center of e-commerce.

Wang presented advances in e-commerce and efforts to green the logistics industry with regard to plastics recycling.

In the session on restoring marine biodiversity through sustainable fisheries management, Cui Lifeng, Secretary-General, China Society of Fisheries, presented on the sustainable development of China’s fisheries. He noted the ancient history and diversity of China’s fisheries and its leading role in aquaculture, and pointed to various measures adopted recently by China, including better control of species caught, improved gear, control of illegal fishing, and ocean protection and habitat restoration.

Tong Jiachao, Deputy Director, Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Zhejiang Province, presented local efforts toward sustainable fisheries in his province. Noting the decline in fisheries output, he drew attention to action on illegal aquaculture, improvements in marine shipping safety, and protection of sensitive fishery areas and juvenile fish habitats.

Leonardo Lacerda, Environment Programme Director, Oak Foundation, highlighted China’s decision to stop importing waste, which, he said, has transformed the discussion on waste and plastics. He welcomed China’s crackdown on illegal fisheries and attention to its long-distance fleets, and suggested China join the Global Fishing Watch to monitor fishing vessels entering in illegal areas. He warned that supporting aquaculture means using protein inefficiently for fish feed, when it could be more efficiently utilized as a direct food source for humans.

Sze Ping Lo, Chief Representative, WWF China, presented WWF’s work in China on certification of sustainable seafood, alternative methods to improve the sustainability of maritime resources, and promotion of citizen awareness.

Jake Krizter, EDF, referred to the role of fisheries management in ecological restoration. He called for scientific approaches on fisheries, including the use of tools to assess a broader range of affected species, and a better understanding of food web structures. He also called for moving away from focusing on single-species management strategies, and better defining protection areas. He drew attention to technological innovation in monitoring and the availability of better tools for traceability.

In concluding remarks, Zhao and Su noted improvements in China with regard to ocean stewardship, but warned that the risk of failure is very high, given the severity of plastic pollution. They expressed hope for continued advances through institutional development, rules and regulation, implementation at different government levels, integrated management of estuaries, monitoring and supervision, and enhanced public awareness.

Belt and Road Initiative and green urbanization: Liu Shijin, CCICED Chinese Chief Advisor, and Andrew Steer, CEO, WRI, co-chaired the forum.

In opening remarks, Liu noted that urbanization has been the most important social transformation for China in recent years, resulting in major movements of people around the country. He highlighted it was a complex phenomenon, as digital technology is opening up possibilities for working remotely, while, in a counter-trend, high speed trains are making it feasible to attend meetings in distant cities more frequently. He stressed that the BRI needs to be green because locking-in infrastructure that does not support sustainable development would involve high replacement costs in the future.

Steer began by underscoring that urban populations are growing faster than ever before in history as another 2.5 billion people will live on Earth by 2030, increasingly in South Asia and Africa. He welcomed the potential for China’s investment in cities to yield sustainability benefits as China was now beginning to demonstrate in its own cities the soundness of investing in green urbanization. He stressed the importance of project-oriented assessments of how cities can be made as compact as possible; optimizing the transport network; constructing green buildings; and reducing cities’ carbon footprints.

In a session on experience sharing among BRI countries on regional integrated development and urban management, Shi Yulong, Director-General, China Center for Urban Development, National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC), gave the keynote address, stressing that green urbanization is the most efficient way to increase sustainable development. He noted it would be important to build the capacity of all agencies involved in BRI partnerships, and that BRI cities are highly diverse, requiring a deep understanding of each country. Shi stressed it would be vital to consider sustainable development factors prior to funding projects. He said that the establishment of the Green BRI Coalition in April 2019 would accelerate global sustainable development.

Aban Kabraji, IUCN, called on China to support BRI partner countries to implement best practices, particularly in relation to biodiversity safeguards. She noted China has leading-edge expertise in some aspects of green urbanization and offered that IUCN, as a partner, could help green the BRI.

Li Xiaojiang, former President of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, stressed that China needs to share with the international community its lessons learned as well as its emerging expertise. He recalled that China’s land use policies have resulted in residential zones being extremely compact, putting pressure on human mental health as well as introducing fire control challenges.

Balasz Horvath, UNDP, stressed the large scale of the BRI, and the potential for synergies with the SDGs. He called for coherent policies that take into account lessons learned from the past and accommodate foreseeable future risks, such as those resulting from climate change. Horvath advocated quantifying NDC targets and using market mechanisms to promote action on climate change, for example, by eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and setting a carbon price to help raise the needed revenue of USD 5 trillion. He also noted that market failures would require regulation and that the BRI could help harmonize regulations among partner countries.

In the ensuing discussion, participants noted that: planning of central Asian cities, which had involved significant Chinese funding, had not been green; and recipient countries needed to take responsibility for how they spend BRI funding.

In the session on environmental improvement and green cities, Hu Wei, Vice-Mayor, Hangzhou Municipal Government, recalled that Hangzhou was an important city on the maritime silk road. Hu outlined Hangzhou’s supply-side reforms to date in promoting information technology and a smart economy. He also stressed that Hangzhou placed emphasis on the benefits of “green life” for its citizens, noting that: 90% of Hangzhou’s public buses are electric; the city has improved its air quality and reduced significantly the number of days with high particulate matter (PM) readings; and in the future, all residents will live within 500 meters of a subway stations.

Francesco La Camera, Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), gave a further keynote address and noted that China, an IRENA member, has been one of the countries investing the most in renewable energy. He outlined IRENA projections indicating that, to stay in line with the Paris Agreement, global renewable energy consumption in buildings would need to grow from 36% at present to 81% in 2050. He urged the BRI to improve its sectoral regulation to accelerate the green urban revolution.

Hans Mommaas, Director-General, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, said countries were now looking to apply nature-based approaches to high-density urban environments. He noted that pollution challenges for river deltas in Europe and China share similar issues, and that authorities are now looking to give space back to the river and to decarbonize industries situated on waterways.

Zhou Guomei, MEE, noted that while China has success stories like Hangzhou and Shenzhen, 16 provinces are rolling out campaigns for eco-friendly provinces to assist cities that continue to be haunted by haze. She stressed that a green BRI could support green urbanization and promote the use of renewable energy in buildings in coming decades. She noted that Pakistan has expressed interest in borrowing the “Shenzhen model” of traffic sharing lanes and a diverse transportation matrix.

Zhang Yongsheng, CCICED special advisor, State Council Development Research Center, highlighted that in the past cities had produced industrial spaces, but digital technologies are offering the opportunity for future cities to be organized in a greener way. Zhang said the BRI is not about promulgating Chinese models, and that both China and partner countries would be learning from their partnerships.

Robert Mosely, TNC, highlighted that while nature-based urban systems work, city leaders are still hesitant to invest in them unless the return on investment exceeds that of traditional investments. Mosely noted that the BRI needs to be more proactive in promoting sustainability, citing, for example, the case of Chinese investment in a new city near Yangon, Myanmar, which looked set to replicate problems China has experienced in the last 30 to 40 years.

In the ensuing discussion, participants noted the BRI needed to consider: how it can help developing countries in Africa that have weak governance; the continuing appeal of traditional urban development models in some developing countries; and that providing sustainable infrastructure does not address issues of inequality and poverty.

In the session on innovation and practices in green infrastructure investment, Oyun Sanjaasuren, Green Climate Fund, gave the keynote address, saying the BRI has the potential to help the world to avoid poor infrastructure choices that would lock countries into pathways that are inconsistent with the Paris Agreement, provided it follows the highest environmental and social standards.

Nicholas Rosellini, UN Resident Coordinator, China, noted the BRI can be an accelerator for the SDGs, addressing social, financial and environmental sustainability. Roselinni called for better data access on what is in BRI and what is not, and for green criteria in lending practices. He stressed the importance of building capacity in partner countries.

Bernice Lee, Chatham House, stressed the need for new ways to manage areas of extreme poverty. Lee also highlighted a need to work more closely with BRI countries to address significant increases in energy intensity and the importance of considering natural infrastructure as an insurance policy against future problems when doing cost-benefit analyses.

Galit Cohen, Ministry of Environment, Israel, noted she had proposed a framework for green BRI development involving green certification for sound performance across BRI projects. She then outlined a further scheme for encouraging green innovation through strong partnerships, based on an Israeli innovation model of public-private partnerships between traditional industries and government to recruit startup companies.

Sun Jingfeng, Director, BRI Environmental Technology Exchange and Transfer Center, described the rapid growth of Shenzhen over the past four decades while at the same time sustaining the environment. Sun noted that a key approach to encouraging uptake of environmental technologies is lowering costs to match those of traditional methods.

Sun Yiting, Deputy Secretary-General, International Finance Forum, noted that finance needed to focus more on long- and medium-term development targets. He also noted that government funding is still needed to support financing tools for green and low-carbon sectors. He said local government fundraising capacity needs to be improved, as in many BRI countries the local governments are poor.

In discussion, participants observed that China’s experience suggests that rural roads provide a low-risk investment with considerable economic returns, and that urban landscapes are reverting to historical precedent in some cases.

Closing the session, Liu Shijin recalled key points made about: addressing inequality as well as green development; ensuring partner countries are aware of China’s lessons learned, notably in relation to the downsides of high-rise buildings; and partner countries needing to be aware of the potential for leapfrogging such problems to higher tech solutions.

Steer made closing remarks, noting: the importance of understanding BRI countries’ governance capacities and their need for inclusive growth; the potential for China to encourage natural infrastructure; and the need for quality data to underpin good investing. He stressed that lock-in of fossil fuel-driven infrastructure would undermine the Paris Agreement.

Global environment governance and best industry practice: Marjorie Yang, Chair, Esquel Group, and Zhai Qi, Executive Secretary-General, China Business Council for Sustainable Development, co-chaired the forum, which took place in two sessions.

Opening the first session on green, low-carbon and common development, Peter White, CEO, WBCSD, emphasized the need to focus on people as well as nature, and for business to focus on systems transformation and sustainable lifestyles. He presented highlights from WBCSD’s work, including a partnership to promote solar power and an alliance to tackle marine plastic litter. Noting that the Aichi Biodiversity Targets have largely not been achieved and the opportunity for strong policy outcomes at CBD COP 15 in 2020, he highlighted WBCSD’s involvement in a Business for Nature coalition to try and create “a Paris moment” in Kunming. He stressed the need for CEOs and investors to give attention and provide leadership on risk management, given that most of the top global risks today relate to the environment.

Wang Tianyi, CEO, China Everbright International, presented the possibilities for achieving zero waste cities in China, noting that Vancouver, for example, had managed to reduce its waste output by 50% within a 10-year period. He highlighted three main objectives for waste-free cities: minimizing landfill; maximizing the reuse of waste products; and limiting the impacts of waste on the environment. Such an endeavor, he suggested, would be a 100-year project for many Chinese cities, and would require both long term goals as well as short term tactics. He urged participants to learn from successes in developed countries.

Waughray, WEF, cited examples of public-private partnerships that are working for systemic change. He highlighted WEF’s convening of representatives from “hard to abate” industries such as shipping, construction, and aluminum production, ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019, with the aim of achieving massive reductions in GHG emissions through the commitments of 60-70 CEOs. On deforestation, he highlighted the work of the Tropical Forests Alliance in reducing the environmental impacts of palm oil, soy, beef, and pulp and paper production. On circular economy, he drew attention to a platform that includes 60 leaders of companies, co-chaired by Royal Dutch Phillips.

Liu Kun, CCICED special advisor and General Manager, Medical and Health Department, China General Technology, addressed the health impacts of environmental degradation, such as the contribution of air pollution to cardiovascular disease. She noted that, while action and awareness about the importance of environmental protection has increased, citizens still lack information about the environmental determinants of health.

Guillermo Castilleja, CICCED special advisor, and senior fellow Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, California, noted that, while the Green Revolution dramatically increased agricultural productivity, the costs associated with this increase have been tremendous, citing the environmental impacts of agrochemicals and the concentration of power in large agribusiness investors. He suggested that this lack of attention to serious impacts was the result of taking a sectoral approach to problem solving, rather than a systems approach. He proposed that true-cost accounting and pricing of externalities may offer a way forward.

Jean-Paul Paddack, Director of Global Initiatives, WWF International, noted that businesses account for almost half of China’s GHG emissions, and therefore businesses are part of the solution. He shared examples of WWF’s action on climate mitigation in China, including through its Climate Saver programme that seeks to transform business leaders into leaders on climate action.

Liang Yisong, Director, Business Cooperation and Development, BP China, said that the world faces the dual challenges of meeting rising energy needs while also cutting GHG emissions. He highlighted company actions toward sustainability, including: contributing USD 100 million to establish a foundation for technology improvement; investing in what will become the largest photovoltaic company in the world; managing 13 wind farms in the US; and investing in electric vehicles.

In the ensuing discussion, Wang stressed that action should begin not only from the perspective of environmental protection, but also with regard to action on climate. Other speakers urged governments to incentivize environmentally-friendly actions by companies. Stephan Sicars, UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), suggested that companies consider where they can “put their weight” in order to have maximum impact.

In the second session, Zhai introduced the topic of circular economy and systematic innovations on global environmental governance.

Zhang presented the work of her company in implementing an ‘eCulture’ programme that promotes environmental sustainability, initially through a Xinjiang Sustainability Conference. She explained that the company focuses on educating children through ‘Eco-mobile’ vehicles that bring environmental education to children in rural areas through toys, supported by the China Light and Power Group. She highlighted the need for companies to stay profitable in the quest to become sustainable.

Félix Poza Peña, Inditex Group, outlined his companies’ sustainability projects, such as using recycled fibers and reducing the use of water and energy. He noted that one of its most important projects has been setting up “eco-efficient” stores that have successfully reduced water consumption by 30% and energy consumption by 20%. He also described his company’s collaboration with the chemicals industry to identify and discourage the use of hazardous chemicals through a classification system.

Sicars explained that three land-based conditions influence the incidence of marine plastics: lack of plastics collection; dumping in rivers; and poor landfill management. He noted that around 40% of plastic waste derives from product packaging, and could be addressed through a circular economy approach that eliminates or reuses packaging, part of which would involve consumer education to reduce people’s expectation of packaging.

Lisbeth Jespersen, CCICED special advisor and Director of the Sustainable Trade Initiative, highlighted that globalization has provided access to many desirable products, such as tea and chocolate, which are consumed far from their places of origin. She suggested that action to transform trade could become a driver for sustainable development, resulting in a “race to the top” in China.

Stephan Contius, CICCED special advisor, and German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, noted that the SDGs and the Paris Agreement both provide robust roadmaps for decarbonized, inclusive, and environmentally-sound development. He noted that the SDGs have become an important reference point for some entrepreneurs, but that many countries are not yet on track with implementation of these goals. He encouraged governments to set the right incentives for promoting circular economy and new business models, and for more entrepreneurs and bankers to include climate and SDG targets as part of risk-informed decision making. He drew attention to the need to find effective solutions for chemicals and waste management through enhanced multilateral partnerships and the replication of best practices.

Jiang Weiming, President of DSM China, presented achievements of his company in reducing solid waste and ocean pollution, and avoiding the use of hazardous chemicals, including through: manufacturing 100% recyclable carpets; re-use of fishing nets in Southeast Asia as a component of surfboards; and developing paints made from plant and agricultural waste.

Huang Xiaojun, Vice-President and Managing Director, Veolia China, presented some examples of good practice by the company, including: participation in an alliance to reduce plastic waste, support for a scientific research ship that sails the rivers in France to track waste distribution; and establishment of a plastics recycling factory in Anji County, Zhejian province, China.

Sreepadaraj Karanam, Saudi Arabia Basic Industry and Chemicals, highlighted the work of his company in improving the recycling of mixed plastic waste as industrial inputs.

In the ensuing discussion, participants stressed that action by companies must go beyond corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives to transform business and manufacturing processes. Zhang lamented that most companies are only interested in government subsidies but lack genuine interest in sustainability; she stressed, however, that “everything we do at scale is for profit,” even though this may take place over a medium- to long-term time horizon.

Participants discussed the possibilities for thinking more broadly than simply replacing one environmentally-harmful product with a less harmful one. They noted, for example, that the growth of mail-order business opens up possibilities to implement ‘the milkman principle’ whereby companies may use delivery personnel to collect back packaging which, if recycled, could be made more durable and attractive. Participants concluded that the current consumption model is unsustainable and that solutions must go beyond cities and be implemented on the landscape scale.

AGM Opening Session

On Monday, Li Ganjie, MEE, China, opened the session, thanking participants for their interest and support for China’s ecological civilization efforts. He noted that this was the third time the CCICED AGM has been hosted outside of Beijing in its 28-year history, and that Hangzhou was chosen as the venue because of China’s desire to share the good practices of Zhejiang Province.

Yuan Jiajun, Governor of Zhejiang Province, China, emphasized the large impact that CCICED has on environment and development in China and globally. He noted three ways in which Zhejiang Province has promoted ecological civilization: finding ways to implement the idea that “green is gold,” particularly through the expansion of eco-tourism; aiming to have 80% of its cities qualify as clean air demonstration zones by 2020; and actively sharing experiences internationally and learning from international best practices through international forums such as the G20 and CCICED.

Vidar Helgesen, CCICED Vice-Chair and Norway’s Special Envoy to the High-level Panel on Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy, called on countries to raise their levels of ambition through their respective NDCs to combat climate change, and encouraged China to upgrade its green transition, phase out fossil fuels, and enhance green supply chains and procurement. He acknowledged the BRI as a global project with the potential to trigger green development on a massive scale.

Li presented China’s recent efforts to build an ecological civilization, including: reorganizing the work of the provincial and local-level environmental bureaus across the country; enhancing environmental management and monitoring in coastal zones and watersheds; continuing to combat air pollution; and encouraging the private sector to help generate momentum for green development. He underscored that experience shows ecosystem protection is a force for propelling high-quality economic development, and vowed to continue the promotion of green sustainable development, enhancement of pollution controls, and effective preparations toward CBD COP 15.

Erik Solheim, WRI, highlighted China’s achievements in deploying green technology, and said that China’s good practices, particularly on cleaning waterways and reforestation, are not well known but are worthy of sharing internationally. Solheim observed that China is greening its domestic practices more quickly than its practices in the context of BRI, and stressed the need for the latter to catch up. He also suggested that the BRI can serve to promote renewed global multilateralism, and he called on participants to support more trade, rather than less, to support environmental efforts.

Xie Zhenhua, CCICED Vice-Chair and China’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, stressed that climate change is a global challenge from which no nation, city, or individual can isolate themselves, and that multilateralism and partnership are the only ways to address the issue. He called for changing traditional patterns of consumption and using climate change as an opportunity to develop circular economies. Xie also emphasized that there are still large gaps to be bridged between countries’ current NDCs and the temperature targets of the Paris Agreement. He called for scaling up commitments on both climate change and biodiversity, and reiterated that China’s support for multilateralism will be unwavering.

Zhou Jiangyong, Party Secretary, Hangzhou Municipal Committee, introduced the city’s ongoing efforts to become a model of integration with nature, based on traditional lifestyles and culture, as well as achievements in: improving the quality of water resources within the city; promoting a city-wide garbage classification system; phasing out high-polluting vehicles and heavy industries; creating nature trails within the city; encouraging bicycle sharing schemes; and improving air quality.

Plenary Session I

Introduction of CCICED issues paper: Xie chaired the session, first giving the floor to Scott Vaughan, CCICED Chief International Advisor and former CEO, IISD, to introduce the CCICED issues paper. Vaughan highlighted some of China’s achievements, including using big data and digital technology for environmental monitoring, implementing the ‘ecological redline’ policy, and preparing a national emissions trading scheme. He said that China’s commitment to green development during a period of slow national economic growth is particularly important, given that a recent International Monetary Fund study anticipates 70% of the global economy faces a downturn, which has historically been associated with waning support for environmental protection due to misplaced concerns about competitiveness. The focus on high-quality economic development has been effective, he said, at bringing new urgency to the need to consider metrics of progress beyond GDP. Vaughan said that despite many exciting climate innovations, the world remains increasingly off-track for meeting the Paris Agreement targets, and stressed the role that China can play in reversing this trend through scaling up innovations and best practices.

Reflecting on the CCICED issues paper, he highlighted three main issues, namely that: prioritizing gender equality is both the right and smart thing to do; tackling complex sustainability challenges will require integrated approaches that can effectively align multiple priorities, for example, through promising strategies such as sustainable food systems, circular economy, and nature-based solutions; and green procurement and debt-for-nature swaps in BRI countries could showcase China’s action in the lead-up to CBD COP 15. Vaughan closed by noting that, as China and the world have changed, so too has the work of CCICED. He said that the world is keenly interested in learning from China, and stressed the need to continue building better mechanisms of information exchange to facilitate this.

Introduction of CCICED draft policy recommendations: Liu Shijin, CCICED Chinese Chief Advisor, briefed delegates on the CCICED draft policy recommendations, beginning with a call for consensus on the definition of “green development” as a pathway to high-quality development, a competitive force challenging traditional polluting industries, and a driving force for green consumption. He highlighted CCICED’s eight recommendations to:

  • seize the historical opportunity to promote green consumption and drive green transformation;
  • keep pace with the changes of the digital era while experimenting with new models of urbanization and regional development;
  • establish a mid- to long-term eco-environmental protection strategy for the YREB, including an ecological compensation scheme;
  • enhance integrated management to address climate change;
  • encourage major technological innovations and creative institutional designs in the field of environment;
  • make biodiversity conservation a national strategy, thus providing a positive example internationally;
  • promote marine sustainable development and step up China’s contribution to global marine governance; and
  • make the green development of the BRI an important vehicle for global ecological civilization and a green community with a shared future.

In illustrating these points, Liu emphasized the need for: promoting green consumption lifestyles; reshaping the relationship between rural and urban areas; curbing air pollution by controlling the use of coal; and introducing high-level strategies to conserve wildlife, establish ecological compensation systems, and ensure green BRI policies.

Discussion: Francesco La Camera, Director-General, IRENA, said the world is going through an energy revolution, noting that market prices are transforming the energy sector. He explained, that, to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, countries will have to transform their energy systems through the uptake of renewables. He emphasized the need to completely eliminate the use of fossil fuels in order to achieve the dramatic change that is needed.

On the recommendation for creative institutional design, Jonathan Pershing, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, suggested to draw attention to the connection between land and oceans recognizing that most marine pollution comes from land. On marine management, he suggested that emphasis be placed on the integrated nature of marine issues and the need for better policies that reflect an integrated management approach. On the BRI, he noted that ports are very important structures that need greening and that this should be included as an objective of the BRI.

On the recommendation on climate action, Rodolfo Lacy, OECD, noted that devising a long-term framework for action is necessary to ensure sustainability by 2050. He said that interagency coordination will be necessary to support this process. He suggested that a set of robust indicators be designed to measure environmental performance, and that these indicators should go beyond measuring CO2.

Naoko Ishii, CEO, GEF, expressed enthusiasm for the prominent role of green consumption in the recommendations. She said that the concept of ecological civilization can provide a guiding vision for transforming consumption patterns, and recommended that the report extend this consideration to more substantively address food systems and agricultural commodity chains.

Andrew Steer, WRI, recommended that China play a leadership role in promoting deforestation-free commodity chains by pursuing deals with Europe and leading corporations. He also promoted the idea of establishing a structure to facilitate genuine, open dialogue between China and BRI countries regarding the contribution of China’s investments in countries’ NDCs, and suggested that international CCICED members could assist with this.

Marco Lambertini, WWF International, highlighted the strong demand footprint of China internationally, and how this could help drive zero-deforestation supply chains for the “big five” commodities: beef, soy, palm oil, rubber, and pulp and paper. He suggested that the recommendation on sustainable consumption focus more strongly on preventing and halting plastic pollution and that the recommendation on biodiversity be further developed.

Stephan Sicars, UNIDO, underscored the importance of China in facilitating green development and sharing its own experience in BRI countries.

Michael McElroy, Harvard University, flagged existing problems with promoting renewable energy operations, including the curtailment of renewable energy production in northern China, the potential for pollution impacts from the production and disposal of materials used in making batteries for electric vehicles; and the polluting nature of cement and steel production for BRI infrastructure projects. He called for collaborative research to tackle issues of climate change.

Nuritdin Inamov, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Russian Federation, affirmed China’s achievements in pollution abatement to date.

Bernice Lee, Executive Director, Hoffmann Centre, Chatham House, noted that trade and digital technologies hold promise for sustainable development. Regarding green consumption, she noted that for it to achieve grand scale transformation, it needs to be addressed in a more systematic manner and sectors need to be prioritized.

Amy Leung, ADB, remarked that the promotion of ecological civilization needs to acknowledge the need for inclusive development that accounts for poverty and populations dependent on high-carbon industries.

Hu Baolin, Honorary Dean, Research Institute of China Green Development, Tianjin University, noted that China needs to apply systems thinking, consider synergies, and adopt holistic approaches in promoting ecological civilization.

Li Lin, Director of Global Policy and Advocacy, WWF International, recommended that China: use its role in leading the nature-based solutions workstream of the forthcoming UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019 to align international efforts on climate change and nature protection; in its capacity as host of CBD COP 15, raise the profile of green diplomacy and nature protection to the head of state level; and provide capacity building to BRI countries for conservation efforts, including for developing ecological redlines in their own countries.

Vidar Helgesen, Norway, Special Envoy to the High-level Panel on Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy, stressed that BRI cooperation must prioritize renewable energy and avoid new investments in coal. To support this, he recommended that the CCICED encourage the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission to include green criteria into its performance evaluations of state-owned enterprises. He also said that Sinosure, China’s state-owned export credit insurance provider, could greatly support the greening of BRI by incorporating environmental and climate risk into its operations.

Nicholas Rosellini, UN Resident Coordinator in China, concluded the discussion session remarking on: the importance of data availability and access to information for BRI; promotion of market-oriented carbon pricing to end subsidies; and setting of consistent social, economic, and environmental standards across BRI countries.

Plenary Session II

Report on parallel open forums: Helgesen, Norway’s Special Envoy to the High-level Panel on Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy, chaired this session, which first involved representatives from each of the previous day’s six open forums summarizing their discussions.

Ren Yong, MEE, summarized the key messages from the forum on China’s High-quality Economic Development and Green Transition during the 14th FYP, including that pressure from industrial development will decrease during the 14th FYP period but overall pressure on resources will continue to increase; the best practices from China’s war on pollution must be consolidated and codified in law; the importance of properly evaluating policy effectiveness; the imperative of considering gender in environmental protection; and learning from the shortcomings of previous FYPs.

Kate Hampton, CEO, CIFF, reported on the forum on Post-Katowice Global Climate Governance. She said the forum had called for an absolute cap on carbon emissions in the 14th FYP, and had expressed overwhelming support for Chinese climate leadership internationally, noting China’s alignment of its NDC with the 14th FYP, and its commitment to a mid-century strategy based on deep decarbonization. Hampton also highlighted participants’ calls for the BRI to fully align itself with the goals of the Paris Agreement by forgoing coal power and promoting rapid decarbonization in countries receiving investment.

Reporting on discussions of the Global Vision 2050 for Biodiversity Conservation, Art Hanson, IISD, said that CBD COP 15 could be a transformative moment for the world towards protecting biodiversity and realizing the vision of harmony with nature. He said that China’s ‘ecological redline’ policy and its efforts to learn from indigenous communities that are highly dependent on natural systems are examples of China’s fresh approaches taking place on the ground.

Reporting on discussions of the blue economy and global ocean governance, Jan-Gunnar Winther, Norwegian Polar Institute, highlighted: ocean health for blue economy as an overall framework for action; the relevance of the ocean to all 17 SDGs, and its connection with land issues; science and knowledge as the foundation for interdisciplinary ocean management; and the importance of avoiding long term static management strategies for the ocean, which is dynamic in nature.

Reporting on the BRI and green urbanization forum, Aban Marker Kabraji, IUCN, noted that lessons from China’s urbanization and renewable energy trajectory should be studied, using robust methodologies, and shared with other countries. She observed that there is a need for greater attention to green financing mechanisms and modalities, particularly in relation to obtaining funds for BRI projects, which should be open and accessible to all.

On global environmental governance and best industry practice, Marjorie Yang, Chair, Esquel Group, reported the views of forum participants that sustainability is a competitive advantage, rather than a burden. She expressed concern that governments often only value the size of private-sector investments and the resultant tax income, but not necessarily the quality of investment. She put forward the group’s proposals, including for: governments to adopt a green, balanced scorecard for rating and recognizing companies’ efforts on environmental sustainability; adoption of true-cost accounting that can provide better sustainability metrics; use of market mechanisms such as carbon trading; and engagement in cross-border alliances. She also highlighted that the power of multinational companies in influencing the production of commodities can have both good and bad environmental impacts, and that good governance is needed to make trade a positive driver for the environment.

Discussion: Lacy highlighted the need for banks and other financial institutions to deliver trillions in funding for low-carbon and resilient operations, and to de-risk financial operations. He proposed conducting climate risk assessments of China’s investment projects in other countries. He also noted the need for developing new taxonomies to standardize financial instruments, such as green bonds, which could support China’s 14th FYP and provide funds for climate, biodiversity, oceans, and health projects.

On BRI, La Camera noted the importance of China’s role in transforming energy systems globally, because it is the world’s main producer of solar power technology. He called for “a solid no-carbon policy” as a basis for efforts to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement, and for this to be reflected in the CCICED meeting summary.

Wang Tianyi, CEO, China Everbright International Limited, called for undertaking an SPS on waste-free cities, noting that his organization plans to establish a research institute on this topic, and mentioning the value of public-private partnerships in waste management.

Lambertini, WWF International, stressed that countries must adopt a level of ambition that matches the scale and urgency of the challenges, as well as taking appropriate action and adopting measurable targets. Observing that issues are discussed too much in isolation from each other, he recommended using “nature” as a term that is well understood and that links biodiversity, natural places, and ecosystem services.

Eric Heitz, founder and CEO Emeritus, the Energy Foundation, drew attention to the examples of California and Europe, where the dual goals of economic growth and environmental quality have been successfully pursued.

Plenary Session III

Discussion of draft policy recommendations: Jonathan Pershing, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, cautioned against the tendency to think in terms of bilateral or multilateral action, arguing that, increasingly, multiple actors are convening in plurilateral processes around a common point of interest, such as electric cars, fertilizers, and other manufactured products. He suggested that, instead of universal structures of governance, such plurilateral structures should be the focus of our attention for coalition building.

Maria Krautzberger, President, German Federal Environment Agency, highlighted the sound management of chemicals as essential for developing ecological civilization. She suggested that chemicals management could be reflected in the recommendations under the SPS on the YREB or as a cross-cutting issue. Krautzberger noted that public health is a cornerstone for environmental protection and suggested that this be picked up more prominently in the text. On green consumption and green transformation, she also suggested highlighting green procurement and drawing attention to the need to remove environmentally harmful subsidies.

Galit Cohen, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Israel, suggested that, in order to mainstream environmental protection into regional and national development strategies, emphasis should be given to aligning the institutional frameworks that manage natural resources. On strengthening the BRI, she suggested that there is a need to provide a platform for entrepreneurs in BRI countries, saying this will strengthen people-to-people ties and technological innovation.

Finn Pratt, Secretary, Department of the Environment and Energy, Australia, suggested a focus on high-quality development as a means to ensure that environmental considerations are integrated into all public policies. He highlighted the importance of involving the private sector in policy development.

Lacy highlighted the new High Ambition Alliance on Chemicals and Waste and the importance of monitoring new pollutants such as microplastics and nanomaterials. This is especially important, he said, in countries such as China that are at the forefront of new chemical production. He also stressed the need to redesign plastics to be less toxic and more recyclable, as was previously done for aluminum cans.

Peter White, WBCSD, noted that nature-based solutions can support both climate adaptation and mitigation while having an array of co-benefits. He said that 2020 presents an important opportunity for joining up efforts on climate change and protecting nature.

Åsa Romson, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and former Deputy Prime Minister, Sweden, said that chemicals were insufficiently addressed at the conference, despite their relevance to discussions. She also suggested that the CCICED documents give greater weight to nature-based solutions and express a greater sense of urgency for the action that is required.

Wang Xiaokang, President, China Industrial Energy Conservation and Clean Production Association, singled out the role of business as an area requiring greater attention. He said that all businesses face the challenges of accessing funding and technology, stressing that Chinese companies are still lagging behind their global competitors, in terms of the latter. Without better engagement of the businesses sector, he said, the requisite level of climate ambition will not be achieved.

Basile van Havre, Co-Chair, Open-Ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, suggested continuing to integrate international conventions into national policy frameworks.

Kate Hampton, CIFF, praised the work of the Green BRI Coalition, noting that it provides opportunities for capacity building through South-South cooperation. She suggested adding contact information into the draft recommendations to enable potential exchange of green solutions among BRI countries.

Zhou Wei, Chief Engineer, Ministry of Transport, China, suggested the text should differentiate targets for carbon emission in different fields, noting that, for example, transportation and construction require different standards. He recommended emphasizing green transportation as a means to control urban pollution.

Summarizing the discussions of the day, Steer emphasized the importance of transparency in the BRI, highlighting its potential to be truly transformative for world development. He encouraged adoption of programme-oriented financing in BRI countries, rather than a project-based approach. He recommended greater efforts toward capacity building, and engagement of both international and national partners.

Site Visit: Zhejiang’s Green Rural Revival Programme

On Tuesday, delegates participated in a half-day field trip to Anji County, Zhejiang Province, to learn about China’s Green Rural Revival programme. They visited the site where Chinese President Xi Jinping, gave the speech that led to the idea, ‘green is gold,’ and heard from local officials about their promotion of inclusive and sustainable development.

Dazhuyuan model village: In the morning, participants first visited Dazhuyuan, a model ‘Beautiful Village’ located in the Lingfeng sub-district of Anji comprising 564 households and more than 2,000 people with per capita annual income of more than USD 4,700. Participants were briefed on the village’s efforts to create a beautiful rural environment that generates nostalgia and a clean and peaceful living environment, thereby attracting tourists and boosting the local economy.

A variety of activities were showcased for the visit, including a master sculptor and local children producing clay crafts; a live music performance using traditional bamboo instruments to generate sounds of the village, such as a farmer walking, a frog croaking, rain falling, a cowbell ringing, a bird chirping, and water running; and the development of local tea plantations, which have become a lucrative source of revenue for the village.

Participants were told that, in addition to Dazhuyuan operating as a model ‘Beautiful Village,’ the local families participate in a ‘beautiful family’ scheme, led by the local women’s federation. It was explained that families strive to achieve a five-star rating through their enthusiastic participation in local cultural events; economic activities; demonstrating interest in intellectual pursuits such as reading; and exemplifying moral character. A bulletin board placed inside the village activity center indicated residents’ responsibilities, such as maintaining cultural traditions, looking after land and property, stopping illegal fishing, and garbage classification. Other highlights of the visit to Dazhuyuan included observing China’s ‘toilet revolution’ that has been expanding villagers’ access to modern sanitation; the extensive integration of bamboo into the village environment; a previously contaminated stream that had been cleaned to provide quality drinking water to the village; a patch of wetland with lush surrounding vegetation transformed from what, 10 years ago, was a gutter; a lotus farm; and how local entrepreneurs had found success through operating different types of guest houses for tourists.

Yu Village: The site visit then proceeded to Yu village, located in Tianhuangping town of Anji, home to 280 farmer households comprising 1,045 people. Participants were briefed on the historical significance of Yu in the context of China’s green transformation, namely that it was the location where, in 2005, Xi Jinping, then Party Secretary of Zhejiang Province, said that “lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets.” These words, it was explained, were the genesis of the idea that has since become ‘green is gold.’ Participants were told that these words were spoken at a time when the area was facing economic and environmental challenges due to the closing of large mines and factories that had previously been the backbone of the local economy. The idea that environmental protection can underpin economic prosperity was said to have inspired local leaders to explore the green development path that has now made Anji County a model of rural sustainability and prosperity driven by eco-tourism instead of heavy industry. Participants had the opportunity to view a monument that was erected to commemorate this history, along with an outdoor exhibition that provided additional photographic and written details. Participants were told the villages showcased were just two examples among over 20,000 villages in Zhejiang province that had undertaken rural renovation and reconstruction programmes. After the visit, participants discussed the success of Anji County, while noting the challenges of replicating it in other parts of the country and world where natural endowments differ.

Working Lunch: Following the conclusion of the site visit, participants moved to the Anji Danianchuyi Conference Center for a working lunch. Erik Solheim, WRI, chaired the proceedings. He noted that Zhejiang is one of the best-performing provinces in China in both economic development and environmental protection, with five cities in Zhejiang ranking in the top ten nationally for sustainability. He praised Anji for its rapid transformation and ability to generate green jobs, particularly in the service sector and tourism. Solheim said that tourism is the most underrated sector for generating employment, underscoring that China will soon become both the largest recipient and source of international tourists, and the importance of this happening in an eco-friendly way.

Qian Sanxiong, Deputy Party Secretary and Mayor, Huzhou City, made welcoming remarks, saying that Huzhou, with a population of more than three million people, has so far enjoyed balanced development by growing its economy while securing environmental preservation. Qian said that, currently, as a leader in implementing the beautiful rural village project in China, Huzhou is continuing its sustainable development path through combating air pollution and promoting organic products. He added that he hoped that Huzhou’s successful experiences could be shared globally as useful references for promoting environmental governance.

Shi Yulong, NDRC, China, highlighted the current status of rural development in China, explaining both achievements and remaining gaps. Shi reported that, on the one hand, the population living below the poverty line fell from 770 million down to 16.6 million between 1978 and 2018, and that by 2016 more than 99% of villages across the country had access to paved roads, electricity, and Internet. One the other hand, Shi noted that although Anji is a success story, there are many parts of China lagging behind in terms of green development. He explained that a major part of this is the uneven distribution of population, with 96% of people being located on just 43% of the land, primarily in the eastern provinces. The key issue to address, he said, is the imbalance between urban and rural development, particularly the inadequacy of the latter. To illustrate, he noted that more than 26% of village household waste remains untreated, and 80% of villages still do not have a sewage treatment system. One of the successful green rural development efforts he highlighted was the national reforestation effort, which, having returned more than 13 million hectares of farmland to forest, he described as the largest ecological project in the world. His suggestions for the future green development of rural China included: integrated urban and rural development plans; promoting green industries in rural areas; upgrading rural infrastructure and basic facilities; and raising public awareness about environmental preservation.

Shen Mingquan, Party Secretary of Anji County, introduced the three pillars of the county’s green development strategy: growing bamboo and maximizing its full market value from roots to leaves by producing, for example, bamboo root crafts, edible bamboo shoots, bamboo furniture, and fresh bamboo juice; expanding the tea plantation sector, not only through selling tea products but also through eco-tourism and film location services in the scenic tea plantations; and electricity generation by a pumped water storage power station with an installed capacity of 1800 megawatts. Shen closed by sharing his belief that a sustainable green development pattern has been achieved in Anji.

Participants then returned by bus to the Hangzhou International Expo Center, where the closing of the AGM took place.

AGM Closing Session

In introductory remarks, Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s Special Envoy to the High-level Panel on Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy, urged delegates to translate President Xi Jinping’s ‘green is gold’ statement into practice, mentioning the need to step up climate action through countries’ NDCs. He noted upcoming opportunities for forging joint environmental commitments, including the second Oceans Conference and CBD COP 15. He called for scaling up solutions and encouraged China to share solutions with the world, drawing on its experience as the largest provider of technology for wind and solar power, electric transportation, and nature-based solutions. He proposed, given the long-term nature of China’s global commitments, that Chinese environmental experts be posted to its embassies abroad in order to facilitate continuous dialogue on green solutions, for example, addressing environmental standards for global projects.

Solheim recalled how Sino-US talks in 1972 were helped by a move from Beijing to Hangzhou, where negotiations were completed that paved the way for normalizing diplomatic relations between the two countries. He stressed that “the spirit of Hangzhou” is about finding solutions for the future, as the US and China had done on that occasion, as well as about exercising courage to try new approaches. He highlighted China’s achievements in pollution abatement and waterway cleanup, adding that Malaysia and the Philippines have recently followed China’s lead in rejecting international imports of waste plastics to their countries. He noted that the BRI is both a high-reward and high-risk enterprise, which, if successful, could make an enormous contribution from China to the world. He stressed the importance of the BRI in helping countries avoid being locked into a coal-based paradigm, and expressed the commitment of the international community to supporting China in this.

Ban Ki-moon, President and Chair, GGGI, and former UN Secretary-General, recalled the achievements of the 2016 G20 summit in Hangzhou, when world leaders had discussed the Paris Agreement on climate. He expressed hope that the “spirit of Hangzhou” would inspire those present to find good solutions to address the global environmental crisis, and thanked Vice-Premier Han Zheng, for his leadership as Chair of CCICED. He urged all concerned to return home and reflect on the “great flood” of ideas, statistics, and information shared at the AGM, and to turn these into real policies and actions in their home countries and communities. He announced that the Global Commission on Adaptation, which he leads, is soon to set up an office in Beijing.

Finally, he highlighted current challenges of providing access to safe drinking water and maintaining air quality, referring to the work of the Republic of Korea’s National Council on Climate and Air Quality, which he also chairs, and the air quality partnership established as a regional framework under the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

Åsa Romson, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and former Deputy Prime Minister, Sweden, stressed that children’s voices today are clearly calling for action on the environment, while calling on scientists and elders to provide knowledge to support this quest. She highlighted CCICED’s mission of acting on the basis of science and knowledge, and highlighted the value of goal setting and a clear long-term vision. She affirmed the work of CCICED and applauded China’s leadership in co-developing it as a unique platform for true knowledge sharing. She welcomed President Xi Jinping’s recent statement in the news about the need to give greater attention to recycling and waste, noting CCICED’s work on green consumption and highlighted that waste treatment is an important indicator of society’s level of development.

Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director, UNEP, noted that China proves that ambitious, targeted, and patient investment in sustainable development and climate delivers results that are good for people, the economy and the planet. Msuya invited China to bring greater ambition to sustainable development given that Chinese policies are powerful drivers for action across the world, noting that when China defends blue skies all people benefit.

Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, GEF, expressed appreciation to the Chinese people for spearheading the paradigm of the ecological civilization, which, she said, is a unique and important challenge for humanity. Ishii recommended the inclusion of food system issues in CCICED’s research agenda and assured China of the GEF’s continued support.

Marjorie Yang, Chair, Esquel Group, remarked that environmental and climate change issues are not just tasks for governments and NGOs but also for businesses. She highlighted that it is completely possible for the manufacturing industry to go green, and that the business sector has an opportunity to show the world how industry and nature can coexist in perfect harmony. Yang added that greening is not only about CSR, but also about generating profits. She suggested that a balanced scorecard approach would be useful in recognizing and acknowledging businesses that are truly keeping their environmental commitments.

Marco Lambertini, Director-General, WWF International, welcomed the fact that “ambition” has been a key word during the conference, stressing that business-as-usual approaches and “tweaking the edges” will no longer suffice when it comes to promoting sustainability. He described 2020 as a year with several unmissable opportunities, including: securing a deal at CBD COP 15 that commits the world to addressing the key drivers of nature loss, namely unsustainable production and consumption, especially related to food systems; and applying ambitious green principles to the BRI that align associated investments with climate ambition. Lambertini also underscored that people already know many of the solutions to the global environmental crisis: what is required, he said, is scaling up and accelerating their deployment.

Andrew Steer, President and CEO, WRI, stated that many important documents will be prepared over the next 18 months to promote sustainability, but none are more important than China’s 14th FYP. He stressed the importance of China hosting CBD COP 15, saying that China demanding deforestation-free commodities could be a “game changer” for halting tropical forest loss. Steer suggested that, if China gives an early indication that it will enhance its NDC ahead of 2020, many other countries will follow suit. He also underlined the importance of BRI being seen to be green, and the opportunity to align BRI investments with efforts by recipient countries to achieve their NDCs and the SDGs.

Liu Shijin, CCICED Chinese Chief Advisor, highlighted the important role that CCICED plays in advising the Chinese government, including in the development of the 14th FYP. He reiterated calls for a new consensus on green development, stressing that it is not only about “patching up” traditional industrial development, but forging an entirely new path. Liu also said that green urbanization should feature prominently in the 14th FYP in order to avoid locking in environmentally harmful infrastructure. He closed by calling for greater efforts to fight trade protectionism and unilateralism, saying that they make everyone lose and undermine global efforts to fight climate change and protect biodiversity.

Scott Vaughan, IISD, congratulated China on hosting a successful meeting. He noted that the 14th FYP contains many new concepts and ideas for putting them into action. He highlighted the importance of identifying coherent and integrated policies, drawing attention to the possibilities for linking the criteria on various policy objectives, such as air quality and healthy ecosystems. He noted the relevance of aligning objectives of the Green BRI Coalition with commitments under the Paris Agreement, and building genuine partnerships for a carbon-neutral world.

Han Zheng, CCICED Chair and Vice-Premier, China, gave the final closing address, noting that the theme of the AGM, ‘A New Era: Towards a New World of Green Prosperity,’ had practical significance. He emphasized that green development has become a world trend, and that China attaches great importance to building an ecological civilization, which, he said, is now in fast-track mode, based on the concept of ‘Beautiful China.’ He presented 2018 statistics illustrating China’s commitment to reducing fossil fuel-based industries, utilizing renewable energy sources, and increasing energy efficiency. In particular, he highlighted achievements in improving air and water quality, increasing protected areas, tightening environmental regulations and monitoring, and increasing forest coverage.

Han expressed commitment to deepening institutional reform in the service of building an ecological civilization, and China’s readiness to deeply engage in global environmental governance, including contributions to climate and biodiversity challenges, and fulfilment of its obligations as the host of CBD COP 15 in 2020. Finally, he affirmed China’s full recognition of the SDGs, and expressed support for the role of CCICED in developing recommendations for the government.

The AGM adjourned at 5:57 pm.

World Environment Day

On Wednesday morning, many CCICED participants joined in the UNEP celebration of World Environment Day, which this year took place in Hangzhou, on the theme of ‘Beat Air Pollution.’

Li Ganjie, MEE, China, chaired the ceremony, which was attended by more than 1,100 participants. Han Zheng, Vice-Premier, China, delivered a greeting from President Xi Jinping, China, calling for continued global efforts to protect the environment and promote sustainable development. In his message, Xi pledged to continue national development policies to protect the environment and promote sustainable development and harmony between people and nature.

Han noted that Zhejiang Province had previously been recognized for its rural village reconstruction and restoration program by a UN Champions of the Earth Award. Citing participants’ achievements in combating air pollution, he pledged to promote experience sharing and science and technology exchange in solving environmental challenges. He affirmed the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in the fight against global climate challenges, and expressed commitment to multilateralism in implementing the Paris Agreement, as well as cooperation for biodiversity preservation.

Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director, UNEP, shared a message from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that underscored the global costs of air pollution, estimated at USD 5 trillion annually. The message also emphasized the co-benefits from actions to mitigate climate change, which come from reducing air pollutants, such as black carbon. Guterres’ message called for governments to tax pollution, end fossil fuel subsidies, and stop building new coal plants. Msuya added her own comments, noting the Chinese government’s allocation of more than USD 10 billion from 2013-18 to fight air pollution, and stressing that blue skies need protection all around the world. She emphasized that the world does not lack the resources or ability to face the global environmental crisis, and she called on all present to unite their efforts, quoting a Kiswahili phrase that, “if a river is high, it is because other rivers have joined it.”

In additional comments, Li announced that, in order to raise public awareness about the need to reduce carbon emissions, a review of the CO2 emissions from the World Environmental Day in Hangzhou will be made and emissions offsets purchased to ensure the event’s net carbon neutrality. He also noted that other events are taking place across China to celebrate World Environment Day.

Che Jun, Party Secretary, Zhejiang Province, expressed his commitment to making “the golden business card of the beautiful Zhejiang even brighter,” and fulfilling the national government’s expectations regarding environmental protection. He shared the story of how Hangzhou Steel Group, which had heavily polluted a district of Hangzhou with its production, was forced to shut down its production base by the government but managed to transform its business to concentrate on environmental protection, digital technology, and tourism within a couple of years, which also led to a significant increase in profits. Che closed by saying he believes “green, low carbon, and circular are the new trends.”

Ban Ki-moon, President and Chair, GGGI, and former UN Secretary-General, remarked that air pollution cannot be dealt alone and called on all nations to work in solidarity. He warned that, “climate change is approaching faster than we think,” and urged immediate action, reminding delegates that nature “cannot be negotiated with.”

After a short break, Li highlighted eight measures taken by China since 2013 in fighting air pollution: launching a national air pollution prevention action plan; restricting industry activity and shutting down outdated production facilities; optimizing the energy structure and setting targets for coal consumption, including control and quality standards; promoting clean energy development and electric vehicle transport; setting up regional joint management mechanisms for air pollution control; enforcing legal regulations and amending the Law on the Prevention and Control of Atmospheric Pollution; enforcing air pollution controls through legal and judicial action; encouraging public participation in green lifestyles and reporting  of illegal pollution activities. Li said that, notwithstanding its achievements so far, China remains dedicated to continuing efforts to combat air pollution, and enhancing its cooperation with other countries in promoting green development of the BRI.

Zhou Jiangyong, Party Secretary, Hangzhou Municipal Committee, noted that Hangzhou is one of the cities spearheading China’s blue skies campaign, is using clean energy for urban transportation, and is planning to build a larger bike-sharing system.

Li Haisheng, Head, National Joint Research Center for Tackling Key Problems in Air Pollution Control and President, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, presented the newly-released Air Quality Improvement Report 2013-18, which comprises a review of achievements, measures, challenges and results in terms of air pollution control.  He highlighted that the report reflects progress on air quality achieved with government leadership, business participation and citizen inclusion, adding that, while significant progress has been made reducing air pollution, there is still a tremendous challenge to be addressed.

Jiang Lijuan, an entrepreneur from Chun’an, Zhejiang Province, spoke to the audience about her success in developing ecotourism in her hometown. She shared how, early in life, her goal was to escape the poverty and poor environment of Chun’an but she was later drawn back as Zhejiang’s Green Rural Revival efforts, which had been recognized by a 2018 UN Champions of the Earth award, began to improve local environmental conditions. Jiang said that her success in operating guesthouses has inspired several other young people to return to Chun’an to start businesses due to the possibility of a prosperous, sustainable rural life in one’s hometown. She closed by expressing her support for ongoing green rural development efforts in China, and encouraged others to participate in this by supporting their hometowns.

In a concluding segment, several other individuals engaged in green development efforts in different parts of China were invited on stage to share their experiences, including: launching a campaign to promote the use of public transport and cycling instead of driving short distances; expanding the use of share-bikes in Hangzhou; increasing the transparency of waste management operations by opening incineration plants to the public for monitoring; and improving pollution monitoring through scientific research into the chemical composition of air and expanding networks of pollution monitoring stations. Following this, officials presented the 2nd China Eco-Civilization Awards and the audience was treated to a choral and dance performance that brought the celebrations to a close.

Upcoming Meetings

High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) 2019: The Forum will address the theme, “empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.” It will conduct an in-depth review of SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate action), and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), in addition to SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals), which is reviewed each year. Among other items, the Forum will consider the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), which is issued every four years.  dates: 9-18 July 2019  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UN Division for SDGs  fax: +1-212-963-4260  email:  www:

51st Session of the IPCC: The 51st session of the IPCC is expected to approve the summary for policymakers of the special report on the ocean and cryosphere in a changing climate.  dates: 20-23 September 2019  location: Principality of Monaco  contact: IPCC Secretariat  phone: +41-22-730-8208/54/84  fax: +41-22-730-8025/13  email:  www:


UN Climate Action Summit: UN Secretary-General António Guterres will convene this summit to mobilize political and economic energy at the highest levels to advance climate action that will enable implementation of many of the goals of the 2030 Agenda. The summit will convene on the theme, “Climate Action Summit 2019: A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win.” date: 23 September 2019 location: UN Headquarters, New York www:

HLPF under UN General Assembly Auspices: The UNGA will hold a meeting of the HLPF at the level of Heads and State and Government to consider the GSDR as well as other agenda items.  dates: 24-25 September 2019  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UN Division for SDGs  fax: +1-212-963-4260  email:  www: and

High-level Review of Progress on SAMOA Pathway: The UNGA will convene a one-day high-level review of progress made on the SAMOA Pathway (SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action). date: 27 September 2019 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: Office of UNGA President www:

Our Ocean Conference 2019: The sixth Our Ocean Conference will highlight the importance of knowledge as a basis for our actions and policies to ensure protection of the ocean, responsible management of marine resources and sustainable future economic growth. dates: 23-24 October 2019 location: Oslo, Norway email:  www:

CBD COP 15, Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP 10,  and Nagoya Protocol COP/MOP 4: The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 15), the tenth Meeting of the Parties (COP/MOP 10) to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and the fourth Meeting of the Parties (COP/MOP 4) to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing are expected to address a series of issues related to implementation of the Convention and its Protocols, and adopt the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. dates: 5-20 October 2020 location: Kunming, China  contact: CBD Secretariat  email:  www:

2019 UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 25): COP 25, the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), and the second meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) will convene to review implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Convention. dates: 2-13 December 2019  location: Santiago, Chile  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999  email:  www:

2020 CCICED AGM: The AGM will report on outcomes from CCICED’s SPS and implementation of its work programme. dates: TBD location: Beijing, China  contact: CCICED Secretariat phone: +86-10-82268661 fax: +86-10-8220053 email:  www:

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