عربي Español Русский Français 简体中文

Speech by H.E.Wen Jiabao Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China At Stockholm+40--Partnership Forum for Sustainable Development

2012/04/26

Stockholm, 25 April 2012

Your Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf,
Honorable Per Westerberg, Speaker of the Riksdag,
Honorable Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden,
Dear Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

I wish to extend, on behalf of the Chinese government, warm congratulations on the opening of the Stockholm+40 -- Partnership Forum for Sustainable Development.

Four decades ago here, the United Nations held the first conference on the human environment. It adopted an epoch-making document, the Declaration on the Human Environment and the Action Plan for the Human Environment, and made a resounding appeal - "Only One Earth". That conference awakened mankind to the environmental issue and ushered in a new era of sustainable development. Since then, environmental protection and sustainable development have become a high priority on the agenda of the Chinese government. Today, as we commemorate that historic conference and as the call of the Declaration comes to mind again, we cannot but all the more marvel at the vision of our predecessors and be more keenly aware of the major responsibilities that we, the present generation, have on our shoulders.

China is committed to pursuing sustainable development. As a matter of fact, sustainable development is embodied in China's traditional values. Over 2,000 years ago, Chinese philosophers called for maintaining "unity between heaven and man" and following "the law of nature" so as to achieve harmony between man and nature. As we see it, this is the ultimate goal for us in pursuing sustainable development. Over the past 40 years, China has attended all the international conferences which were crucial in shaping and enriching the concept of sustainable development. China takes resources conservation and environmental protection as a state policy and pursues sustainable development as a national strategy. Entering the 21st century, China is pursuing economic and social development under the guidance of the Scientific Outlook on Development, a fundamental principle which calls for putting people first and promoting balanced and sustainable development in all areas.

China believes that a commitment, once made, must be honored. In the past 40 years, with rich practices in promoting sustainable development, China has honored its commitment both to its own people and to the international community. It has instituted the most stringent systems for managing farmland and water resources, and fed one fifth of the global population with less than 10% of the world's farmland and only 28% of the world's per capita water resources. China has carried out afforestation for decades, with coverage now reaching 620,000 square kilometers. In the past six years, we have decommissioned small coal-fire power generators with a total installed capacity of 83.83 gigawatts that are high in energy consumption and pollution, equivalent to the total power generation capacity of a medium-sized European country. We are vigorously developing clean and low-carbon energy, and China now has the world's largest installed capacity of hydro power and wind power. Since 2005, while maintaining robust economic growth, China has cut energy consumption per unit of GDP by 21%, and emissions of major pollutants such as S02 and COD by 16% and 14% respectively. In the past 30 years and more, we have lifted over 200 million rural people out of poverty, making China the first country to meet the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the poor population by half.

At the same time, we are keenly aware that China, the largest developing country in the process of rapid industrialization and urbanization, is still facing a major problem of lack of balance, coordination and sustainability in development. China is poor in natural endowment, low in per capita share of resources, and it has a fragile eco-system and disparity in regional development. Measured by the newly-adjusted national poverty line, China still has 128 million poor people in rural areas. Each year, over 10 million people enter the labor force. China thus faces a formidable task of growing the economy and protecting the environment. We are implementing the 12th Five-Year Plan on Economic and Social Development. This plan demonstrates the strong resolve of the Chinese government: China will never seek economic growth at the expense of its environment and the health of its people. China is determined to take a path of civilized development which ensures that production increases, people's living standards rise, and we live in a sound ecological environment.

This is what China is doing:

First, we are pursuing the strategy of accelerating the shift of the growth model and economic structural adjustment to promote sustainable development. We are working to improve demand mix, reduce over reliance on investment and export for growth and make consumption play a bigger role in stimulating economic growth. We are working to improve the industrial structure and expand and upgrade the services sector and promote coordinated development of industrialization, urbanization and agricultural modernization. We are also working to adjust the mix of input of factors of production, increase the contribution of human resources and scientific advances to economic growth and reduce consumption of raw materials and resources.

Second, we are building a resources-conserving and environment-friendly society in a comprehensive way to promote sustainable development. Just as there is no medicine that can cure all diseases, there is no single solution to deep-seated resources and environmental issues confronting us. With this in mind, we are promoting modes of production, ways of life and consumption patterns that are conducive to conserving resources and friendly to the environment in industry, agriculture, service and other economic sectors and in the government, businesses, families and other parts of the social structure. Our goal is to build a circular and sustainable economic system with low input, high output, low consumption of energy and raw materials and reduced emission.

Third, we are working to improve governing institutions and enhance capacity building to ensure sustainable development. It takes both the market and the government to resolve resources and the environment-related issues. We are building a pricing mechanism for resource products that responds to market supply and demand, scarcity of resources and environmental costs. We are putting in place a fiscal and financial system and a compensation mechanism for eco-damage that promote resources conservation and environmental protection. A system of accountability for meeting energy conservation and emission reduction targets is being introduced in regions and key enterprises across the country. We are also strengthening scientific and technological innovation, personnel training, legislation and international exchanges and cooperation to promote sustainable development.

Fourth, we are endeavoring to eliminate poverty and improve the quality of life as the ultimate goal of sustainable development. As the Declaration on the Human Environment puts it, "Of all things in the world, people are the most precious." We are enhancing social programs with a focus on improving life for the people. We are improving the policies and governing institutions for employment, social security, education, medical care, poverty alleviation and housing. And we are promoting equal access to basic public services so as to ensure adequate education, employment and pay, medical and old-age care and housing for all the people and thus promote social equity, justice and harmony.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To promote sustainable development is a global trend. It is also a long-term and arduous task feeing all of us and calls for new ideas, new practices and joint efforts. In this regard, it is important that we should make the following efforts:

First, we should ensure that everyone has equal environmental right. Human beings should not only have fundamental political, economic and development rights, but basic environmental right as well. They have the right to live in a decent environment free from pollution and participate in the supervision and management of actions that affect the environment. It is necessary to raise public awareness of its environmental right and responsibility, and strengthen protection of this right. This will facilitate rational use of the environment, raise awareness to protect the environment, and create a powerful and enduring impetus to sustainable development.

Second, we should pursue green development. Human beings are neither slaves of nature nor its masters. Rather, we should be friends of nature. To maintain balance between human development and environmental protection is an eternal mission for all of us. Green development is gaining momentum in the world. To develop energy-saving and environmentally-sound green industries, conduct innovation in green science and technology, develop green products and energy sources and encourage green consumption will both help ease tension between economic development on the one hand and resources and the environment on the other and create new market demand and new jobs. Greening of the economy is not a burden on growth; rather, it is an engine that drives growth and an effective means to achieve sustainable development. We should therefore energetically grow a green economy so as to achieve both development and sustainability.

Third, we should enhance global governance on sustainable development. While a global consensus on sustainable development has emerged, joint actions to promote sustainable development are still weak and uncoordinated. We should therefore enhance international cooperation and improve global governance on sustainable development. To do so, we should strike a balance between the three pillars of sustainable development, namely, economic growth, social progress and environmental protection, and we should not confine ourselves to carrying out environmental treatment only. We should adhere to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and ensure that developing countries have equitable right to development and assume responsibilities that are compatible with their capacity. We should respect the independent right of all countries to sustainable development, and increase the representation and voice of developing countries in the global governance mechanisms on sustainable development. Attempt to erect green barriers should be rejected. Developed countries should fully honor their commitments of providing official development assistance, provide adequate funds and advanced technology to developing countries and help them enhance capacity for environmental protection and sustainable development.

The Nordic countries are the champion and pacesetter in environmental protection and sustainable development, and they lead the world in promoting harmonious development between man and nature. Over the years, Sweden has provided valuable assistance to China in capacity building in this field. China and Sweden have carried out effective and practical cooperation, and good progress has been made in dioxin emission reduction in paper-making, prevention and treatment of mercury pollution and renewable energy and in eco-city and eco-park projects in Caofeidian of Hebei, Gongqingcheng of Jiangxi, and Taihu Lake in Wuxi., All these are good examples of green cooperation between developed and developing countries, and I applaud these achievements in our cooperation. During my current visit to Sweden, China and Sweden have issued a framework document on strengthening strategic cooperation in sustainable development, and we are committed to building a long-term partnership in exchanges of visits, joint research, policy dialogue, industrial cooperation and in multilateral fields. I am confident that this will bring China and Sweden even closer to each other and speed up our pursuit of common development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is still much in the laws governing both nature and economic and social development that remains unexplored by mankind. To me, today's meeting is more than a commemorative event. It is also an occasion to reflect on what we have done and for us to renew our commitment. Mr. Olof Palme, former Prime Minister of Sweden, said that "Politics is wanting something." As an ancient Chinese saying goes, "When united as one, brothers can become so strong that they can break metal". We have but one Earth, and this planet is our common home. We are duty-bound to join hands to protect the Earth which is vital to our survival. We must work together to make sure that our planet will never witness a silent spring as Rachel Carson described in her book, but will always be a world of birds singing and flowers blossoming.

Thank you!

Suggest to a friend
Print