Summary report, 1–3 November 2018

2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED)


The 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) convened from 1-3 November in Beijing, China. Meeting under the theme, “Innovation for a Green Era,” the AGM was attended by more than 2000 Chinese and international participants.

Key outcomes and outputs of the meeting include:

  • approval of the Council’s 2019 Workplan by the Executive Committee, which highlights gender mainstreaming in CCICED’s work;
  • consideration of the Council’s 2018 draft policy recommendations for the government of China, which emphasize: climate change, ocean, and biodiversity governance; green urbanization; greening the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); and green development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt (YREB);
  • a roundtable discussion on “Low-Carbon and Circular Economy for Green Development”;
  • eight parallel open forums on various environment- and development-related issues; and
  • consideration of progress on various Special Policy Studies (SPSs) mandated by the Council.

Participants also heard a presentation of the 2018 CCICED Issues Paper, entitled “Shocks, Innovation and Ecological Civilization: A ‘New Green Era’ for China and for the World.” The document concludes by noting that in a time “rife with contradictions that threaten our future,” China will be a “torchbearer” for a green and sustainable world.

A Brief History of 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.” The Council 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 in areas such as sustainable consumption, environmental information disclosure of listed companies, and environmental risk management.

Policy Recommendations: CCICED’s annual policy recommendations are circulated as official government documents by the Ministry of Ecology and the Environment (MEE) to State Council and local governments, providing a reference for policy makers at all levels. CCICED’s Chairperson, Han Zheng, is also a Vice Premier of China’s State Council, responsible for environmental protection. Many of the Council’s recommendations have made their way into subsequent policies, institutions, systems and standards. Since 2008, the Support Team for the Council’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 key 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, will focus on:

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

A number of SPSs are foreseen under each Task Force. In addition, the CCICED can initiate short-term and quick response studies on emergent issues.

Report of the Meeting

Executive Committee Meeting

During this closed meeting on Thursday morning,Members of CCICED’s Executive Committee reviewed the CCICED 2018 Work Report and approved the 2019 Workplan. CCICED International Chief Advisor Arthur Hanson introduced a document containing draft CCICED guidance on gender equality, which will be used in the planning and conduct of policy research and other activities conducted under the Council’s mandate.

Opening Plenary

The Council’s official opening took place on Friday and was chaired by CCICED Executive Vice Chairperson Li Ganjie, Minister of Ecology and Environment, China.

 CCICED Executive Vice Chairperson Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada, commended China’s progress on environmental protection and noted the world needs China’s “warrior spirit” in tackling environmental challenges.

McKenna thanked Arthur Hanson, outgoing CCICED International Chief Advisor, for his work in supporting China’s environmental leadership, and announced Scott Vaughan, President and CEO, International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD), as the Council’s incoming International Chief Advisor.  

CCICED Chairperson Han Zheng, Vice Premier, State Council, China, highlighted China’s advancements in environmental protection, saying this has contributed to improvements in water and air quality, and forest cover. He noted strict environmental enforcement, proactive engagement in international environmental governance, effective national planning, working with industry, and the restoration of ecosystems as among the actions being taken by China to achieve ecological civilization. Underscoring that China “will reform, innovate and modernize governance and government capacity” to tackle environmental challenges, Han reaffirmed China’s support for CCICED as an inclusive and cooperative environmental platform.

Plenary Sessions

  • Plenary meetings of the CCICED convened on Friday and Saturday to hear reports on, and discuss:
  • the 2018 CCICED Issues Paper;
  • CCICED 2018’s draft policy recommendations;
  • CCICED’s 2018 Work Report and 2019 Workplan;
  • the meeting’s opening roundtable discussions;
  • the previous day’s open forums; and
  •  relevant SPSs.  

On Friday, Li welcomed participants to the “first CCICED hosted by the new MEE.” He outlined China’s President Xi Jinping’s philosophical guidance on ecological civilization, noting it answers both theoretical and practical questions, such as why China is building an eco-civilization, and how to build it. He highlighted that the government had identified the “battles, roadmaps and schedules” for environmental protection, including with regard to air pollution, diesel truck emissions, and polluted urban water treatment.

CCICED Vice Chairperson Xie Zhenhua, Vice Chairman, Committee of Population, Resources and Environment of the 12th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and Special Envoy on Climate Change, China, remarked on China’s efforts to achieve poverty reduction while promoting a low-carbon economy.

Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), commended China’s progress in promoting the “triple-win” of a thriving economy, improved human health, and an enhanced environment.

CCICED Vice Chairperson Zhou Shengxian, Vice Chairman, Committee of Population, Resources and Environment of the 12th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, noted that China is in a challenging transitional stage and aiming toward achieving an ecological civilization.

CCICED Vice Chairperson Achim Steiner, Administrator, UN Development Programme (UNDP), underscored the need for continued commitment to the environment despite the volatile geopolitical situation.

 CCICED Vice Chairperson Vidar Helgesen, Special Envoy to the High-level Panel on Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy, Norway, remarked on CCICED’s valuable role in inspiring the world on environmental governance.

Åsa Romson, IVL Swedish Environmental Institute, urged members to rethink the definition of “innovation” and noted innovation in Sweden such as its carbon tax, industry partnerships and progress on building material alternatives.

Issues Paper: Hanson introduced the 2018 CCICED Issues Paper, entitled “Shocks, Innovation and Ecological Civilization: A ‘New Green Era’ for China and for the World.” Noting that shocks can be interactive, environmental, socio-economic and political in nature, he said the paper addresses “buffers” to ensure continued sustainable development for China. He highlighted the document’s conclusion that China will be a “torchbearer for a green and sustainable world in this time rife with contradictions that threaten our future.”

McKenna thanked Hanson and, alongside Li, presented him with a plaque acknowledging his contributions to the Council and China.

Draft Policy Recommendations: On Friday, CCICED Chinese Chief Advisor Liu Shijin, Vice Chairman, China Development Research Foundation, introduced the Council’s 2018 draft policy recommendations, noting they address ways to overcome global shocks while creating green opportunities.

In the ensuing discussion, various participants welcomed the draft recommendations. They suggested these could be enhanced to, inter alia:

  • introduce more ambitious biodiversity goals;
  • further address challenges related to global fisheries;
  • promote China’s concept of a “sponge city” as a way to tackle urban water issues; and
  • employ language that is more appealing to the business sector.

Vice Chairperson Xie, echoed by Liu, supported a strong emphasis on technology innovation. Hanson suggested that a future SPS could look into trade and investments and invited further comments on the draft recommendations by the close of the day. Liu invited participants to suggest topics for future research.

On Saturday afternoon, Hanson, CCICED, introduced a revised version of recommendations, organized around six themes, namely:

  • upgrade China’s contribution to global climate governance through enhanced action on climate change mitigation within China;
  • develop an ecological civilization approach to China’s roles in national and global ocean governance;
  • play a strong leadership role in developing effective post-2020 global biodiversity goals under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD);
  • carry out the Greening of the BRI;
  • strengthen performance of green development institutional social and economic reform in the YREB; and
  • lead green urbanization through innovation of technology, planning and policy.
  • CCICED International Special Advisor Knut Halvor Alfsen said that the revised draft incorporated the majority of comments received.

During the discussion, Chinese Chief Advisor Liu underscored that the Chinese government has prioritized environmental protection and that economic and other pressures will not impede green development efforts. Vice Chairperson Steiner, UNDP, highlighted the need to move beyond policy recommendations that are descriptive and to focus on proactive interventions.

Various participants provided further suggestions to enhance the draft, including in the following areas:

  • transferring knowledge to BRI countries;
  • exploring replicable solutions in renewable energy;
  • emphasizing a green and low-carbon approach in reference to BRI countries;
  • green technology transfer and construction;
  • green development as a driver for economic growth;
  • law enforcement for environmental protection;
  • economic measures such as carbon trading;
  • setting up a technology inventory to share knowledge and solutions;
  • incentivizing the use of green technology; and
  • policy support for green technology throughout products’ life cycles.

Delegates also supported highlighting the intention to fulfill pledges related to renewable energy subsidization, and omitting or rephrasing a reference to “clean coal” in the document’s Chinese translation.

The draft recommendations will be fine-tuned in the coming weeks. A summary of the recommendations will also be produced, to which the longer recommendations will be appended.  

CCICED 2018 Work Report and 2019 Workplan:

On Saturday, CCICED Secretary General Zhao Yingmin, Vice Minister of Ecology and the Environment, China, highlighted that the Secretariat’s 2018 activities had included:

  • active gender mainstreaming, with the support of international partners such as Canada;
  • sharing of results;
  • the organization of BRI roundtables; and
  • trainings and workshops to increase awareness of CCICED-related work.

He then presented the Council’s 2019 Workplan, which the Executive Committee had approved on 1 November 2018. The new workplan focuses on a “new age towards a green prosperous new world,” and emphasizes themes such as ecological civilization, green urbanization, governance, innovation, sustainable production and consumption, green energy investment and trade, and global maritime governance.

Among key elements of the 2019 Workplan, Zhao highlighted:

  • the 2019 AGM will be held in June 2019 in Zhejiang Province;
  • an Innovation and Green Development Roundtable will be held in late 2019;
  • cooperation with international partners on gender mainstreaming, green consumption, and biodiversity protection; and
  • enhancing awareness of CCICED’s work.

Report on the Roundtable Discussion: On Saturday, Vaughan, IISD, summarized Thursday’s roundtable discussions on “Low-Carbon and Circular Economy for Green Development,” noting this was the first time the Council had considered the theme of circular economy. Among key take-aways, he noted:

  • a sense of urgency, as highlighted by the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5°C (SR15);
  • recent developments and initiatives in this area, including China’s 2018 waste import ban, and the Ocean Plastics Charter;
  • a rise in the role of business community, which, he said, should be guided by strong and unambiguous policy; and
  • partnerships as an accelerant of progress.

He highlighted broad support for more CCICED work on linking the low-carbon and circular economies.

Vice Chairperson Solheim, UNEP, noted that the UN Environment Assembly, scheduled to take place from 11-15 March 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya, will focus on sustainable consumption and production, including how the circular economy can be operationalized.

Reports on the Open Forums and Relevant SPS Progress: On Saturday, participants heard report-backs from the eight open forums that had convened in parallel the previous day.

BRI and the Sustainable Development Goals: Li Yong, UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said challenges to aligning the BRI with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) include:

  • that some BRI countries are in primary stages of industrialization;
  • a lack of unified standards and norms in different projects; and
  • limited attention to green investments among funders.

Among policy recommendations, he highlighted:

  • enhancing cooperation through the International Coalition for Green Development on the Belt and Road;
  • integrating environmental cooperation into the entire BRI implementation cycle;
  • the setting of implementation criteria;
  • proposing a Belt and Road “Green City” initiative; and
  • promoting capacity building and gender considerations.

He underscored the need to “meet the challenges and grasp the opportunities” of the BRI.

Environmental Governance for the Ocean: Jan-Gunnar Winther, Specialist Director, Norwegian Polar Institute, shared initial findings from the SPS on oceans, including that:

  • oceans have great potential for food production
  • a third of fisheries are exploited at biologically unsustainable levels;
  • aquaculture, if not operated thoughtfully, can have negative impacts
  • climate change can intensify threats to food security and livelihoods; and
  • China is “by far” the primary global consumer of seafood.

Among policy recommendations, he highlighted:

  • consideration of new aquaculture and marine conservation laws in China;
  • implementation of a “high-tech” monitoring system and contributing to marine science;
  • introducing a “report card” on coastal and marine ecosystems health; and
  • assessing climate change effects on living marine resources.

On take-aways from the previous day’s forum, he noted the need to consider, inter alia:

  • a holistic land-sea coordination mechanism;
  • lifecycle management for plastics;
  • improving regulations and standards; and
  • engaging youth.

Noting that knowledge and science are “under pressure,” he stressed the importance of a science-based approach.

Vice Chairperson Solheim, UNEP, highlighted ambitious actions being taken in other regions such as the ban on single-use plastics by 2022 in India, and the EU’s strategy on plastics.

Beautiful China 2035: Sun Youhai, Executive Dean, Research Institute of China Green Development, Tianjin University, noted the need for both short- and long-term goals for the co-existence of humans and nature. He highlighted the importance of taking the ecological system as a whole into consideration while dealing with challenges such as air, water, and soil pollution issues. He highlighted five preconditions for attaining a Beautiful China by 2035:

  • progress across different regions, with different levels of development;  
  • stable government policy and local government implementation;
  • “balance” in addressing various types of pollution;
  • consistency in policy and guidelines; and
  • measures’ comparability with international standards.

Sun said achieving these goals would require, inter alia:

  • top-down road maps;
  • enhancing “ecological compensation” whereby polluters bear the costs of pollution;
  • integrating existing environment laws and regulations; and
  • promoting green consumption.

Green Consumption for Green Transformation: Åsa Romson, IVL Swedish Environmental Institute, underscored that it is “high time” for governments to promote green consumption as a priority and driver for achieving a green transition. In addition to a need for promoting technological shifts and innovation through improved governance systems, she highlighted the importance of:

  • understanding human psychology;
  • funding research and development (R&D) through green finance and green bonds;
  • green procurement;
  • enforcing recycling and waste management;
  • innovation, including in production and transport;
  • systems change; and
  • integrating gender equality.

Addressing Climate Change by Innovating Development Pathways, Kate Hampton, CEO, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, highlighted discussions on:

  • urgency to act;
  • increasing ambition;
  • innovative approaches; and
  • clear opportunities.

Among key recommendations, she highlighted: 

  • infrastructure investment;
  • accelerating R&D in low-carbon technology;
  • promoting near-term decarbonization options in the industrial sector;
  • incentivizing state-owned enterprises to move to low-carbon and zero emissions models of production and consumption, including in the energy industry; and
  • ensuring consistency in both domestic and international cooperation.

Post-2020 Biodiversity Conservation: Li Lin, Director, Global Policy and Advocacy, WWF International, highlighted three focus areas:

  • the global post-2020 biodiversity framework;
  • good practices from China, driven by the shift to ecological civilization, and
  • political engagement and synergies.
  • She noted that China could support political mobilization for biodiversity conservation by: 
  • promoting a coalition of champions for nature at the head-of-state (HoS) level;
  • mobilizing non-state actors;
  • developing a robust domestic framework for biodiversity conservation that supports eco-civilization in China and globally; and
  • sponsoring a UN General Assembly resolution to coincide with the HoS Summit for Nature/Biodiversity in 2020.

Innovation-driven Green Urbanization: Jin Liang, Scientist, Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, said discussions had focused on the urbanization paradigm in the new era of green, digital and shared economy. Among challenges to sustainable urbanization, he highlighted: imbalances in land use patterns and insufficient investment to keep up with demand for better livings standards.

On solutions he highlighted:

  • “building with” nature, instead of controlling it;
  • building compact cities;
  • transit-oriented development instead of urban sprawl; and
  • promoting safe walking and cycling environments.

Green Development Innovation for the YREB: Stephen P. Groff, Vice President, Asian Development Bank (ADB), outlined progress on the SPS on this topic. He highlighted land degradation as a key environmental challenge for the Yangtze River. Among governance challenges, he noted the lack of a unified and comprehensive watershed legal and regulatory framework and insufficient cross-provincial incentives to ensure ecological compensation.

Among policy recommendations, he highlighted:

  • a “Whole-of-Ecosystem” approach, “from Mountain to Ocean”;
  • multi-stakeholder engagement for sustainable livelihoods;
  • promoting an incentive framework for ecological compensation and environmental protection; and
  • establishing appropriate legal and institutional mechanisms.

In the discussion, participants supported:

  • strengthening technology innovation in waste recycling;
  • knowledge sharing on green consumption measures;
  • encouraging governments to engage in green procurement and use green buildings;
  • integrating biodiversity protection efforts into China’s overall development plan;
  • considering the Yangtze Estuary as part of the Yangtze River system;
  • mainstreaming gender equality; and
  • realizing good urban design and living environments for younger generations.

Regarding the International Coalition for the Green BRI, to be launched in May 2019, participants recommended, inter alia:

  • introducing a data repository to share green ideas among members;
  • strengthening on public-private-partnerships (PPPs) in the area of green development across BRI countries;
  • focusing on data as a basis for cross-sectoral collaboration; and
  • setting short- and long-term targets across BRI countries.

Participants welcomed progress on the various SPSs. They recommended further exploring the potential for carbon trade in China, smart technology and digital cities, and US-Sino cooperation to promote ecological civilization. They additionally suggested focusing on China’s role in developing recycling technology for plastic waste and in sustainable food and farming.

Roundtable on Low-Carbon and Circular Economy for Green Development

CCICED’s opening roundtable on this theme took place on Thursday and was co-chaired by CCICED Vice Chairpersons Steiner, UNDP, and Helgesen, Norway.

Offering introductory remarks, Steiner noted that the roundtable’s theme reflected “what we would like to happen.” Highlighting a growing recognition that “the laws of gravity of development of the 20th century are no longer relevant, or need to be re-calibrated,” he said that numerous Asian nations are at the forefront of reinventing their economies, including through concepts such as the sufficiency economy, gross national happiness, and ecological civilization. He underscored that although the policy solutions, technology, and public awareness are all available, key actors remain unable or unwilling to act to achieve green development. Pointing to the findings of the recent IPCC SR15, and noting that only 12 years remain to achieve the 2030 Agenda, Steiner emphasized that “time is our greatest enemy.”

Continuing on this theme, Helgesen said the IPCC SR15 had received unprecedented attention, thereby functioning as “an alarm clock to the world.” He highlighted positive developments, including dramatic drops in the price of solar and wind energy; but also emphasized that the large-scale adoption of old technologies worldwide “is cause for alarm.” Noting that we are already seeing the effects of 1°C of global warming, he stressed the need for long-term and action-oriented policies, and for governments to provide the right market signals. While highlighting positive developments in technology and economic restructuring in China, Helgesen also stressed the need to consider the impact of China’s investments abroad, including the BRI. He called for ensuring we are “unlocking opportunities for the new economy, rather than locking in the misery of the old economy.”

Secretary General Zhao, China, highlighted the “great importance” that China’s President Xi Jinping attaches to environmental and ecological protection to promote the green economy. He noted, inter alia, that:

  • the 19th Party Congress had laid out a top-level design for the harmonious co-existence of humans and nature;
  • the constitution had recently been amended to incorporate concepts such as ecological civilization and Beautiful China;
  • institutional reforms had been undertaken to integrate governmental protection related to land, water and sea; 
  • efforts are being undertaken to promote society-wide participation; and
  • China’s active fulfilment of commitments under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and marine protection treaties, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

Executive Vice Chairperson McKenna, Canada, highlighted the importance of bringing together the “trifecta” of climate, nature and the ocean. Calling for a beautiful planet as well as a Beautiful China, she stressed the need to “do a lot better” with regard to the circular economy, which she said could help meet climate change goals, the SDGs, and future resource needs. Underscoring that a plastic bag takes five seconds to make, five seconds to use, and five centuries to turn into micro-plastics, she highlighted Canada’s engagement in the Ocean Plastics Charter. She noted the need to engage businesses and consumers and to address the waste management challenges faced by many developing countries.

Challenges and Measures in Creating Innovative Governance Mechanisms:Opening this session, moderator Andrew Steer, CCICED Member, and President and CEO, World Resources Institute (WRI), reminded participants that the initial motivations behind the global push for circular economy include pollution and health issues, and limited landfill space.

Hideki Minamikawa, CCICED Member, and President, Japan Environmental Sanitation Center, highlighted measures taken by China since 2013 to improve air quality. Pointing to measures adopted by Japan to monitor marine flows of garbage following the 2011 tsunami, he underscored the importance of a waste supervision system and the need for proper coordination between central and local governments for effective environment action.

Providing a private sector perspective, Wang Tianyi, CCICED Member, and Executive Director and CEO, China Everbright International Ltd., said China’s PPP model and state subsidization of garbage recycling and incineration projects to regenerate power could be promoted in other developing countries.

Inger Andersen, CCICED Member, and Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), acknowledged recent achievements in the international climate change negotiations, while noting much slower progress on the global biodiversity agenda. She encouraged urban and town planners to integrate biodiversity and nature preservation into city planning.

Mark Tercek, CCICED Member, and CEO, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), cautioned against treating environmental challenges related to air, water, agriculture and infrastructure as separate. Quoting former US President Dwight Eisenhower, he noted that problems sometimes need to be made bigger to allow the entire picture to be taken into account and addressed.

Amy S.P. Leung, Director General, East Asia Region, ADB, said the potential for smart cities and the low-carbon economy lies not only in technology change but also in creating incentives for behavioral change of the general public.

  • In the discussion, participants inter alia:
  • called on more countries to plant bamboo and produce bamboo products for a low-carbon economy;
  • highlighted the role of innovation for ensuring future solutions;
  • welcomed China’s BRI initiative as innovative way for international collaboration; and
  • using the example of China’s air pollution control programme, expressed the importance of attaining the circular economy by integrating various existing laws and regulations.

The Role of the Business Community in Green Development: Opening this session, moderator Peter Bakker, President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), noted various lessons can be learned from China about building sustainable cities, and reflected on political challenges to achieving green development in the business sector in Australia.

Félix Poza Peña, Chief Sustainability Officer, Inditex Group, said his multinational clothing company contributes to SDG achievement by taking into consideration customer rights, the welfare of communities,  and environmental protection. He highlighted several SDG-related initiatives, including through the “Life Garments” initiative which promotes the use of sustainable and efficient energy sources by both Inditex and its suppliers.

Ling Wen, General Manager, China Energy Group, said the company is the largest power producer in the world. He highlighted efforts by the Group to achieve China’s 20% renewable energy target by 2030 and decrease fossil energy to 80%, including by: using large wind farms; developing alternatives to silicon solar cells such as copper indium gallium selenide solar cells; and exploring ways to make conventional energy cleaner and more efficient.

Stephan Sicars, Director, Environment Branch, UNIDO, referred to the circular economy as a global issue not limited to industrialized countries. He noted that such an economy requires business models to evolve to focus on resource efficiency which naturally uses less energy and is less polluting.

In the discussion, participants discussed the need for metrics to determine the success of circular economy approaches, and queried how the IPCC SR15 had been received by the private sector.

Partnership Development for Low-Carbon and Circular Economy: This session was moderated by CCICED Special Advisor Dominic Waughray, Head, Centre for Global Public Goods, World Economic Forum (WEF). He stressed the need for a “systems approach” to achieve a circular economy that engages both businesses and supply chains as well as governments and civil society.

Kathleen McLaughlin, CCICED Member, and Senior Vice President, Walmart, highlighted the potential of partnerships to accelerate progress, including through:

  • the setting of goals and targets, as illustrated by Walmart’s translation of the 2°C target into company-specific targets;
  • capacity-building, as illustrated by Walmart’s efforts to enhance the energy efficiency of its operations in China; and
  • partnership, incentives and measurement, for instance by turning data into indexes that can be used by suppliers.

CCICED Special Advisor Stephan Contius, Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany highlighted: the Resource Efficiency Dialogue established under the German G20 Presidency; continued work on these themes by the current Argentinian and incoming Japanese G20 Presidencies; and his country’s support for the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE).

CCICED Special Advisor Galit Cohen, Deputy Director General, Policy and Planning, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Israel, underscored the role of consumption in achieving the circular economy. She highlighted Scotland’s certification scheme for second-hand products as a good example of using certification to address perceived and actual barriers to the quality of circular economy products, and called for understanding whole value chains to avoid unintended consequences of sustainable consumption.

Liu Dashan, Chairman, China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group, highlighted the company’s efforts to: conserve energy; protect the environment, including through municipal waste treatment; and input into the policy-making process. He noted challenges related to the economic viability of technologies and hoped to work with like-minded partners.

Frank Shou, Head of Environmental Affairs for Asia Pacific and Japan, Apple, highlighted his company’s efforts to incorporate renewable energy into its supply chain and to “close the loop” to ensure a green supply chain. He said that waste can contain valuable components and underscored the need to work with local agencies and jurisdictions to identify how this can benefit the local environment.

CCICED Special Advisor Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility identified “three gaps” that need to be closed to realize CCICED’s potential as a platform for partnership: the knowledge/information gap; the gap between government and the business sector; and the gap between decision-making and communities.

During the discussion, participants noted the need for:

  • partnerships between civil society and government in addressing global and local environmental issues;
  • a common target to limit global warming to 1.5°C;
  • businesses such as Apple to collaborate across sectors, rather than limiting themselves to collaboration within their supply chain;
  • flexible policies to supporting low-carbon initiatives in the private sector; and
  • trust among nations to build lasting partnerships.
  • Providing closing remarks, Vaughan, IISD, highlighted a new publication, entitled “The Circular Economy – a Powerful Force for Climate Mitigation” by Sitra, the European Climate Foundation, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and others, saying it makes the link between CO2 avoidance and the circular economy. He emphasized the need for common metrics that provide a basis for measuring the benefits of a circular approach. He said China’s ban on the import of plastic waste could form the topic of a future SPS.

Helgesen highlighted key take-aways from the discussion, including:

  • PPPs as a driver for the circular economy;
  • the need for investment in research and development;
  • knowledge sharing as a key tool in the government tool box; and
  • the importance of partnerships that promote trust and the exchange of ideas.

Open Forums

On Friday morning, participants convened in eight parallel open forums on the following themes:

  • Green BRI and the SDGs;
  • Post-2020 Biodiversity Conservation;
  • Green Development Innovation for the YREB;
  • Addressing Climate Change by Innovating Development Pathways;
  • Environmental Governance for the Ocean;
  • Innovation-Driven Green Urbanization;
  • Beautiful China 2035; and
  • Green Consumption for Green Transformation.

Green BRI and the SDGs: This session was co-chaired by Executive Vice Chairperson Li, China, and Vice Chairperson Solheim, UNEP.

Li reflected on the success of the Green BRI in five years, noting its contribution to economic prosperity and green development.

Solheim and Li Yong, UNIDO, highlighted that the International Coalition for Green Development on the Belt and Road will be launched in 2019, and will focus on finance, standards and the environment.

On synergies between the BRI and the 2030 Agenda, Shi Yulong, National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China, recommended coordination of SDGs and Green BRI; green partnerships; and a green development fund.

Aban Marker Kabraji, Director, Asia Regional Office, IUCN, highlighted BRI opportunities for SDG achievement such the creation of new protected areas. Wang Xiaolong, Director, International Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China, cautioned against pursuing economic development at the expense of the environment. Nosipho Ngcaba, Director General, Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa, encouraged the use of established environmental tools to understand environmental risks. Iskandar Abdullaev, Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia, underscored the importance of policy measures, improving standards, and green jobs.

On BRI and green finance, Steer, WRI, encouraged financial institutions to build capacity in low-carbon technology. Oyun Sanjaasuren, Director, External Affairs, Green Climate Fund (GCF), recommended alignment of green BRI elements with countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the UNFCCC.

Bakker, WBCSD, called for improvement of green investment standards. Wang Wen, Professor, Renmin University of China, cautioned against overestimating the BRI’s environmental risks.

On international partnership for green development on the Belt and Road, Guo Jing, Director General, International Cooperation, MEE, China encouraged technology transfer among countries for infrastructure construction. Marco Lambertini, WWF, underscored the value of civil society participation in development project planning. Wang, CCICED Member, and China Everbright International Ltd., said PPPs can provide green benefits. Special Advisor Cohen, Israel, noted BRI plans to introduce sustainability criteria, certification schemes and green development innovation hubs. Special Advisor Zhang Jianyu, Environmental Defense Fund, Vice President, China Project, said the work of the International Coalition for Green Development on the Belt and Road should integrate data and scientific evidence.

Discussions focused on green investments, low-carbon approaches, and green electrification.

Post-2020 Biodiversity Conservation: Executive Vice Chairperson McKenna, Canada, highlighted Canada’s cooperation with China in the establishment of a Chinese national parks system, and China’s important role in the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the CBD in 2020.

CCICED Secretary General Zhao, China, described efforts to: improve the mechanism governing China’s 2011-2030 biodiversity strategy and action plan; protect genetic resources; and implement the CBD and related protocols.

On mobilizing a new partnership for global cooperation to facilitate multiparty participation, Li, WWF International, introduced a “political mobilization” strategy for nature, including: creation of a coalition of champions for nature; a robust post-2020 framework; and inviting heads of state to COP 15.

Special Advisor Ishii, GEF, said the planetary boundary for biodiversity is “even more in the red zone” than climate change, and called for: a science-based target for business; a narrative that highlights biodiversity protection as needed, possible and desirable, and multi-stakeholder coalitions.

Noting that Forum’s annual Global Risks Report identifies various environmental risks as particularly pressing, Special Advisor Waughray, WEF, highlighted the need for a multi-stakeholder action agenda for nature.

On how to set an operable and achievable framework for post-2020 biodiversity conservation, Ma Keping, Professor, Institute of Botany, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, outlined recent research on the importance and feasibility of protecting “half of earth.” He introduced a stakeholder-centric implementation mechanism to enable the CBD to deliver on promise.

Andersen, IUCN, stressed the need to define a biodiversity “apex target,” comparable to the 2-1.5°C climate change targets and said the Aichi Targets need to draw links between health, peace, gender, indigenous peoples participation, and land tenure.

Gao Jixi, Director General, Satellite Environment Center, MEE, China, highlighted China’s “ecological conservation redline” (ECR) approach that protects: key species habitats, ecologically sensitive and fragile areas, and important ecological function areas.

In the discussion, participants stressed the need to, inter alia: convey urgency; broaden engagement; invest in enabling conditions; and ensure a whole-of government approach and coherence with other multilateral environmental agreements.

Green Development Innovation for the YREB: Groff, ADB, called for cross-sector coordination and introduced ADB’s investment of USD 2 billion for the YREB initiative.

Wang Jinnan, President, Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning, provided policy recommendations on an integrated management plan, combined sustainable livelihood development, and an ecological compensation scheme and sustainable financing mechanism.

Leung, ADB, outlined the rationale for the ADB’s investment in the YREB, and stressed the need for “balanced” development that minimizes impacts on the natural environment.

On legislation for protecting the Yangtze River, Cheng Lifeng, Standing Member, National People’s Council, highlighted a lack of coordination among the more than 50,000 hydro power projects already in place along the Yangtze.

 Tercek, TNC, shared TNC’s international experiences on watershed management issues and emphasized the importance of setting up innovative partnerships with different stakeholders.

Vaughan, IISD, called attention to integrated approaches for better climate resilience to address challenges such as low water levels.

Brendan Francis Gillespie, former Head of Water Programme, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), identified successful project models for water governance.

On policy innovation for green development, Hans Friederich, Director General, International Network for Bamboo and Rattan, introduced bamboo growing projects in parts of China that provide ongoing profits and job opportunities to local communities.

Zhang Qingfeng, Director, Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture, ADB, described the Bank’s joint projects with China in the Yangtze River basin.

Wang Xiaokang, President, China Industrial Energy Conservation and Clean Production Association, stressed the need to clarify the origins of river pollution as a first step.

 Pang Xiaopeng, Professor, Renmin University of China, described ways to introduce a gender perspective into project design, implementation, and evaluation.

During the discussion, participants echoed the importance of integrating gender considerations into the YREB.

Addressing Climate Change by Innovating Development Pathways: This session was co-chaired by CCICED Vice Chairpersons Zhenhua, China, and Steiner, UNDP, and took place against the backdrop of China’s enhanced role in climate change governance. Discussions centered on innovative low-carbon development pathways, such as new patterns of economic growth and long-term development goals and institutional innovations in climate change governance. Participants highlighted the need to, inter alia: address climate change and air pollution jointly; operationalize Paris Agreement Article 6 (market and non-market approaches); and combine climate action with poverty eradication and affordable energy. Noting recent election results, a Brazilian NGO representative urged the international community to obtain assurances that Brazil will remain a party to the Paris Agreement before accepting the country’s offer to host UNFCCC COP 25.

Environmental Governance for the Ocean: This session was co-chaired by CCICED Vice Chairperson Helgesen, Norway, and Su Jilan, Honorary Director General, Second Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration, China. Discussions focused on innovation of the marine environmental governance systems. Participants considered the status and challenges of marine biodiversity; marine land-based pollution and its impacts; and solutions and actions for marine environmental governance.

Innovation-Driven Green Urbanization: CCICED Chief Advisor Liu, and John DeGioia, CCICED Member and President of Georgetown University, co-chaired this session. With the global urban population predicted to increase by 2.5 billion by 2050, countries around the world are facing challenges to achieving sustainable urban development. Discussions focused on two key themes related to the sustainable urbanization challenge: challenges and pathways for innovation, and sustainable water management.

Beautiful China 2035: This session was co-chaired by Maria Krautzberger, President, Federal Environment Agency, Germany, and Special Advisor Hu Baolin, Honorary Dean, Research Institute of China Green Development, Tianjin University. Discussions focused on China’s 2035 target to fundamentally improve the ecological environment and achieve the objective of building a Beautiful China. Participants considered objectives and indicators for improvement of the ecological environment, and needed innovations in institutional reform and policy formulations.

Green Consumption for Green Transformation: Marjorie Yang, Chairman, Esquel Group, and Kathleen McLaughlin, Chief of Sustainability, Walmart co-chaired this session. Discussions centered on resource and environmental problems caused by “irrational” consumption structures and patterns. Participants discussed the effect and strategic position of green consumption in the overall process of green transition, as well as strategies, priority areas, legislation and policy instruments for promoting such consumption.

Closing Plenary

This session took place on Saturday afternoon, and was chaired by Executive Vice Chairperson Li, China.

 Vice Chairperson Xie, China, highlighted CCICED’s important role in influencing institutional arrangements, targets and minds towards ecological civilization. He noted various opportunities for further strengthening the Council’s profile both in China and abroad, including alignment of the Council’s timelines with the government’s planning cycles for its five-year-plans, and engagement in international summits on climate change and biodiversity.

Vice Chairperson Solheim, UNEP, said the rest of the world can learn from China in terms of promoting: the circular economy, sustainable urbanization; and biodiversity conservation. He underscored that China’s unprecedented economic transformation over the past 40 years could be replicated in the ecological sphere.

Vice Chairperson Zhou, China, reflected on China’s efforts toward eco-civilization and acknowledged and encouraged CCICED’s contribution to strengthening China’s role in global environmental governance.

Vice Chairperson Helgersen, Norway, emphasized China’s leadership, international collaboration; and innovation and governance as important themes for CCICED’s future work.

In closing, Vice Chairperson Steiner, UNDP, noted “great expectations” for China in terms of maintaining momentum on climate action; hosting CBD COP 15 in 2020; and creating synergies between ecological civilization and the BRI.

Executive Vice Chairperson Li, China, highlighted the Chinese government’s dedication to fighting pollution and pursuing sustainability despite global and domestic economic challenges. He underscored that with Council Members’ unified efforts, achievement of ecological civilization and Beautiful China “will contribute to a beautiful world.”

Upcoming Meetings

2018 UN Biodiversity Conference: The 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD, the 9th Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the 3rd Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (CBD COP 14, Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP 9, and Nagoya Protocol COP/MOP 3) are expected to address a series of issues related to implementation of the Convention and its Protocols.  dates: 14-29 November 2018  location: Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt  contact: CBD Secretariat  e-mail:  phone: +1-514-288-2220  www:

 Seventh Session of the International Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-7): IPBES-7 is expected to address the report of the Executive Secretary on the implementation of the first work programme for the period 2014-2018; the global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services; review of the Platform at the conclusion of its first work programme; the Platform’s next work programme; and institutional arrangements.  dates: 29 April - 4 May 2019  location: Paris, France  contact: IPBES Secretariat  www:

  Fourth Session of the UN Environment Assembly: The fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly will convene on theme on innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production. The Assembly will identify and discuss: innovative solutions, covering policies, financing, technologies, partnerships and multi-stakeholder processes for solving environmental challenges and accelerating sustainable development more generally.  dates: 11-15 March 2019  location: Nairobi, Kenya  contact: UNEA Secretariat  phone: +254 (0)20 762 1234  email:  

Towards a Global Pact for the Environment Ad-hoc Open Ended Working Group Meeting: The session will discuss substantive matters relating to the Pact, which aims to provide an overarching framework for international environmental law.  dates: 14 - 18 January 2019  email:  location: Nairobi, Kenya  www:

Expert Group Meeting on SDG 13: Climate Action: The meeting will consider and review progress of SDG 13 as mandated by the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).  contact: Emer Herity  e-mail:  dates: 14 - 18 January 2019  location: Copenhagen, Denmark www:

OceanVisions2019 Climate Summit: The Summit themed on ‘Successes in Resilience, Adaptation, Mitigation, and Sustainability,’ will showcase ocean-based science and engineering successes in the areas of resilience, adaptation, mitigation and sustainability, and promote scalable solutions “across human, climate and ecological dimensions.”  dates: 1-4 April 2019 location: Atlanta, GA, US www:

The 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF): This Forum is expected to be held in 2019, and to address international cooperation related to the Belt and Road. The first installment of this Forum was held from 14-15 May 2017.  dates: tbc  location: Xi’an, China 

CCICED Annual General Meeting 2019: The meeting will consider progress on the work of CCICED and discuss issues of priority as addressed under Special Policy Studies of the Council  dates: June 2019  contact: Li Gongtao  email:  www:


Further information


Negotiating blocs
European Union