World Insights: How Xi's environmental philosophy contributes to better global governance and sustainable development

Updated: May 1, 2022 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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Photo taken on Jan. 8, 2022 shows a test bullet train running over Anning River in Dechang County, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Sichuan Province. (Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing)

BEIJING, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Climate change and other environmental challenges have posed a threat to people's livelihoods and species across the planet.

To mitigate the impact, China has offered some wisdom: the harmonious coexistence between humans and nature, one of the fundamental principles of Chinese President Xi Jinping's thought on ecological civilization.

"Ecological civilization represents the development trend of human civilization," Xi said at the leaders' summit of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) last year.

His thought not only serves as the guiding theory underpinning China's sustainable development efforts but also sheds light on where human civilization should be headed.

Photo taken on Sept. 26, 2021 shows an exterior view of the Fuligong Greenhouses at Kunming Botanical Garden in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan Province. (Xinhua/Jiang Wenyao)


China has bolstered its green credentials in recent years, from cultivating the Chinese people's eco-civilization awareness to adding new forests, grasslands and wetlands and combating air and water pollution.

On March 30 this year, Xi planted trees in China's capital Beijing, marking the 10th year of his participation in the annual tree-planting activity as the top leader and demonstrating how much he values efforts to further green China.

"I want to do my bit for the Beautiful China initiative, and also to sow the seeds of ecological conservation in the entire society, among the Chinese youth in particular," Xi said.

"With perseverance and accumulated efforts, we will be able to make our country's sky bluer, mountains lusher, waters clearer and the environment more beautiful," he said.

Thanks to afforestation efforts, 960 million mu (64 million hectares) of trees have been planted in China over the past decade. The country's forest coverage has now reached 23.04 percent, up 2.68 percentage points from 2012, bolstering global confidence in combating forest degradation.

China's environmental efforts have also garnered international acclaim. In 2017, China's Saihanba afforestation community won the Champions of the Earth award, the highest environmental honor of the United Nations.

Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said Beijing has put in place robust guard rails to ensure that urbanization and infrastructure growth do not negatively impact the health of vital ecosystems, including forests and watersheds.

"The fact that China has embarked on an ambitious tree planting, on an ambitious program to combat food waste, all of these are very good," she said.

The Chinese public has embraced China's "Green is Gold" concept, hence elevating the Asian nation's status as an example of biodiversity protection, Andersen said.

Tourists enjoy the spring view of a wetland park in Yangzhou, east China's Jiangsu Province, April 5, 2022. (Photo by Meng Delong/Xinhua)


China, as a participant, contributor and trailblazer in global ecological conservation, is firmly committed to putting multilateralism into action and promoting a fair and equitable system of global environmental governance for win-win cooperation, President Xi said at the Leaders Summit on Climate via video link last year.

In October 2021, the Kunming Declaration was adopted at COP15 held in the provincial capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, providing new momentum for a biodiversity conservation roadmap in the coming decade.

Danish Environment Minister Lea Wermelin said China "sent a strong, positive message to the world" when announcing that it will take the lead by investing 1.5 billion yuan (about 233 million U.S. dollars) to establish a Kunming Biodiversity Fund to support biodiversity protection in developing countries.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, said, "the adoption of the Kunming Declaration ... has put us firmly on the path to the adoption of an effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework that will engage the entire world in the task of putting nature on a path to recovery by 2030."

Richie Merzian, director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Australia Institute, said China has made great strides in environmental protection.

"Climate change is a major challenge. But at the same time, it also provides a good opportunity for cooperation," Merzian said.

In Kenya, the China-financed Garissa solar power plant, the largest solar plant in East and Central Africa, has helped facilitate Kenya's quest for green development since it was inaugurated three years ago.

Nestled in a valley at the foot of the Andes, the Chilean capital of Santiago has been using electric vehicles from China as part of plans to revamp its public transport system and advance clean mobility.

During the construction of the China-Laos Railway, which connects Kunming in China's Yunnan Province with Lao capital Vientiane, many tunnels were extended and roads replaced by bridges to protect elephant habitats.

Philip Clayton, president of the Institute for Postmodern Development of China, a U.S. think tank, said China's contributions to ecological civilization have empowered the international community to pursue environmental reforms and more robust ecological governance.

Aerial photo taken on Aug. 8, 2021 shows a herd of wild Asian elephants crossing the Yuanjiang River in southwest China's Yunnan Province. (Xinhua)


China has always been a country of action, actively shouldering international responsibilities and stepping up efforts to build a community of life for humanity and nature.

"Faced with unprecedented challenges in global environmental governance, the international community needs to come up with unprecedented ambition and action. We need to act with a sense of responsibility and unity, and work together to foster a community of life for man and Nature," President Xi said.

Nigel Topping, Britain's high-level climate action champion for UN climate talks, characterized ecological civilization as "the most exciting" of the ideas coming from China.

"Ever since I heard the term 'ecological civilization,' I was like 'yes,' that's what we're all trying to build, that's what we have to build," he said.

Clayton said humanity must "recognize that we are a single species with a single shared destiny."

"We would not exist at all without the stable and nurturing life-systems around us. In fact, in one sense we are not separately existing creatures at all. We are, from the bottom up, beings in community," he said.

"The greatest vision for the future of humanity is to affirm that we all belong to a single global community of life," Clayton said. "When we acknowledge our deep interconnection, we become allies on behalf of the community of life." 

Editor: Tian Shenyoujia