Ecological Civilization in the People’s Republic of China: Values, Action, and Future Needs
Hanson, Arthur | December 2019
Ecological civilization is being used by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to provide a coherent conceptual framework for adjustments to development that meets 21st century challenges. It differs from sustainable development in the emphasis placed on political and cultural factors, as well as on defining new relationships between people and nature that would permit living well, and within the ecoenvironmental bounds of planet Earth. This paper profiles the language and characteristics of ecological civilization as it is currently conceived, especially in relation to improvements in pollution reduction, circular economy, low-carbon economy, green development, and other guiding thoughts. Consideration is given to the areas of finance, law, institutional strengthening, and technological innovation. Each of these areas has already influenced ecological civilization decisions during the 12th and 13th Five-Year Plans (FYP), and highlights some of the needs for the medium-term and beyond, especially to 2035 when ecological civilization in basic form is expected to be fully in place for the PRC’s modernization. Getting there will require addressing many challenges and innovative mechanisms to align ecological civilization with the PRC’s economic and other structural reforms. It will require changes in employment strategy, innovation-driven development approaches, and other matters to ensure adequate transitions. At the same time, new opportunities will emerge and it is particularly important to link these with major national policies including rural vitalization, low-carbon economy in cities, green development, science, technology, and innovation. Ecological civilization can thrive if there are good partnerships, enhanced public participation, and full engagement of enterprises. While ecological civilization is sometimes described as sustainable development with Chinese characteristics, it will benefit through inputs from outside, and will have value in many of the PRC’s international activities including meeting the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, creating green supply chains, greening of the Belt and Road Initiative, and accelerating efforts to achieve goals related to climate change and other global environment concerns. The ecological civilization concept places emphasis on safeguarding ecological services and natural resource protection and improvements. Several conclusions highlight what are needed in the immediate and longer-term future to make ecological civilization successful and transformative in its impact within the PRC, internationally, and even globally.
CitationHanson, Arthur. 2019. Ecological Civilization in the People’s Republic of China: Values, Action, and Future Needs. © Asian Development Bank. http://hdl.handle.net/11540/11482. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
Environmentally Sustainable Development
Natural resources policy
Forest site mapping
Environment impact assessment
Environment impact assessment
Environmental impact statements
Agricultural landscape management
Protection of environment
Natural beauty conservation
Urban impact analysis
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