عربي Español Русский Français 简体中文

Mankind and Ecology: Balanced Development

2014/07/11

Address by H.E. Li Yuanchao
At the Eco-Forum Global Annual Conference Guiyang 2014

11 July 2014

Your Excellency President Mulatu Teshome,
Your Excellency Prime Minister Joseph Muscat,
Your Excellency Speaker Hannes Germann,
Your Excellency Chief of the Presidential Administration Sergei Ivanov,
Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

It is a great pleasure to come to the colorful province of Guizhou for the Eco-Forum Global Annual Conference Guiyang 2014. On behalf of the Chinese government, I wish to extend warm congratulations on the opening of the annual conference and sincere welcome to the distinguished guests from all countries.

The Guiyang Eco-Forum Global is an important platform for countries to share experience in ecological conservation and promote international cooperation in sustainable development. The theme of this year's annual conference "Joining Hands, Leveraging Reforms to Bring Forth a New Era of Eco-Civilization" is of great relevance and significance.

Man and nature are all part of the world we live in. Man is the great achievement of nature while nature provides the surroundings in which man lives. Friendly and harmonious coexistence between man and nature is the prerequisite for the sustainable development of human society. If man should exploit and transform nature in a destructive way, nature will inevitably respond in kind. Since the dawn of large-scale industrialization in the world, material wealth created by man has been growing at an unprecedented speed while havoc never seen before has been wrecked to our ecological environment as well as natural resources. History and reality warns us that man must conscientiously strive to live in harmony with nature and our development must be pursued in parallel with ecological improvement.

First, we need to strike a balance between economic development and ecological improvement. The key to sustainable development lies in balanced economic and social development and environmental protection. Chinese President Xi Jinping stresses that we must properly handle the relationship between environmental protection and development, always bear in mind the importance of ecological conservation when promoting economic and social development and make sure that achievements are made on both socio-economic and environmental fronts. In his congratulatory message to this conference, Premier Li Keqiang pointed out the importance of pursuing economic growth and environmental protection at the same time in a bid to provide a sound environment as a public good to our people and build a modernized China enjoying ecological progress. The experience of various countries has shown that the needs for economic development and for environmental protection are not necessarily irreconcilable as long as a rational and green development approach is pursued. We need to hold on firmly to the idea that protecting and improving the environment is tantamount to protecting and improving productivity. We must respect and protect nature, follow its course, and find a sustainable path of development characterized by enhanced production, prosperous life and sound environment.

Second, we need to strike a balance between environmental protection and ecological rehabilitation. We live in a damaged natural environment, but as we say in China, it is never too late to make amends. We must take timely remedial measures to address the deteriorating environment. With that I think of the Geneva Lake in Switzerland, which was once heavily polluted and which now shines like a pearl of the Alpes thanks to active treatment and strict protection. China started to vigorously implement the project of restoring farmland to forests at the beginning of the 21st century and now more than 25 million hectares of wasteland and hillsides are covered by vegetation. These examples tell us that environmental rehabilitation should now be a basic key project and figure prominently in our economic and social development. It is also important that we make loving of nature and protection of the environment part of our social ethics, and strengthen environmental legislation and law enforcement so that the whole society will work together to protect and properly manage the environment.

Third, we need to strike a balance between resource development and conservation. Resource development is the basis of industrialization on a massive scale. Over-exploitation and inefficient utilization, however, is a major cause of environmental degradation. According to the statistics of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the 1.3 billion tons of food wasted every year during production, circulation and consumption guzzles up a volume of water three times the annual flow of Russia's Volga River and is responsible for 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. It has thus become a pressing task facing all countries to transform the model of ecological resources utilization through reform and achieve conserving production and consumption through institutional and technological innovation. We should go along with the trend of global green economic development, accelerate the upgrading of industrial structure and make vigorous efforts to develop green, circular and low-carbon industries. We should enhance scientific and technological innovation, shift from input-driven to innovation-driven development, and boost green productivity through technological transformation. We should also make institutional innovation and establish rigorous institutional standards, effective governance system and stringent legal restraints, so as to provide fundamental safeguards for ecological conservation.

Fourth, we need to strike a balance between clear responsibilities and international cooperation. The earth is the common home for mankind and ecological conservation calls for the efforts of each and every one on this planet. Thanks to the concerted efforts of nearly 200 countries and regions since the 1980s, the international agreement on protecting the ozone layer has been implemented, effectively shielding mankind from the hazards of ultraviolet radiation. The Kyoto Protocol, reached in the 1990s, has promoted the development of green industries and mitigated the negative impact of global climate change. Now, the UN is formulating the post-2015 development agenda and setting the goals for sustainable development. This will inject fresh impetus into international cooperation in ecological conservation. We should be responsible for and promote tolerance among mankind and work in a spirit of equality, mutual assistance, and mutual benefit to strengthen international exchanges in green technologies, expand international cooperation in green industries and achieve common green development. In international cooperation, the differences between countries in their stages and levels of development should be taken into account and the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" should be upheld. Developed countries should deliver on their commitments, shoulder obligations and increase funding and technological support to developing countries. Developing countries, on their part, need to develop and implement environmental protection strategies and play an active role in the relevant global endeavors to protect the environment.

China actively champions and engages itself in ecological conservation. Resource conservation and environmental protection have become China's basic national policy. Since the launch of reform and opening-up, China has made widely recognized achievements in its modernization drive. Yet China remains the world's largest developing country that is in the middle of accelerated industrialization and urbanization. Currently, we face mounting ecological and environmental pressure and greater demand from the people to protect the environment and treat pollution. The 18th CPC National Congress gave prominence to ecological conservation in China's modernization drive and set the goal to build a resource conserving and environmentally friendly society and a beautiful China. China is taking concrete actions to build a sound ecosystem. We are working toward the binding targets of reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by 16%, cutting carbon intensity by 17% and slashing the discharge of major pollutants by 8-10% for the 12th Five-year Plan period. We are making accelerated efforts to conserve energy and reduce emissions in such priority sectors as industry, construction and transportation, and are pressing ahead with the action plan on air pollution prevention and treatment. In addition, China has played an active part in global environmental governance, earnestly implemented relevant international environmental agreements, scaled up assistance to other developing countries in funding, technology and personnel training, and worked hard to contribute to global ecological security.

Ecological conservation is vital for the well-being and future of mankind, and it brings about historical opportunities for the development of the world. China stands ready to enhance equal-footed, friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries to jointly build a livable homeland with blue sky, green land and clear water. Let's work together to bring forth a new era of eco-civilization.

Suggest to a friend
Print