Whilst PAGE countries have been extremely responsive to the COVID-19 crisis and are working hard to ensure that a fair and green economy is not left off the agenda, PAGE’s biggest asset has always been the core elements of an inclusive, green economy which are essential for developing long term sustainability and resilience.
In December 2019, a Green Development week took place from in Suzhou to provide a platform for cross-sectoral dialogue, learning and information exchange in order to boost green development in Jiangsu. Led by PAGE and organized by the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Nanjing University, this so-called “PAGE Week” gathered representatives from Chinese central and local government, UN agencies, research institutes, trade unions and enterprises to Suzhou – a major economic center and focal point of trade and commerce in China. The week featured various events, including a training workshop on eco-industrial parks, a session on Green Global Value Chains, a learning workshop on green jobs and an expert consultation on the green economy progress measurement framework of Jiangsu and Fujian Province.
Moving forward to a post-COVID-19 context, it is apparent that the central themes explored in the green development week are also those crucial to green recovery in Jiangsu, which has been supported by the work on building up an inclusive green economy agenda prior to COVID-19. Instead of losing momentum, Jiangsu has taken the opportunity of the pause of many industries due to COVID-19 to upgrade and accelerate the green transition. The provincial government issued on March 27th the Opinions on Promoting Green Development1 covering 33 aspects including green industrial parks, circularity, resource efficiency, green trade, green value chain, green textile, renewable energy, low-carbon economy and international cooperation; all areas that PAGE has been engaged with.
Additionally, there has been increased green investment, with $4.3 billion investment in major projects especially in sustainable infrastructure within the province focused on environmental protection. The provincial department of ecology and environment and department of finance strengthened green finance through expanding scope of cooperative banks, increasing the load limit for a single project, optimizing loan interest rates and providing online provincial financial service platforms. The provincial department of agriculture promoted countryside excursion and bio-food directly from the fields via a newly developed mobile app. Efforts have also been made to promote ecological restoration, for example supporting the National Yangtze River Protection Strategy in Suzhou through replacing energy-intensive and polluting production capacity close to the river with green infrastructure to build ecological corridors. Digital transformation has been an enabler for a greener, more inclusive and more resilient recovery across all aspects.
Whilst major challenges still remain, for example disruptions to the global supply chains which has affected export business in Jiangsu, incorporating principles of sustainability will certainly contribute further to green recovery.