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25 February 2016

Man on a boat

China has been a country of unprecedented growth. During the past three decades, China has not only lifted millions of citizens out of poverty with its double-digit growth rate, but has also been playing an increasing role in contributing to the world economy. For example, China’s GDP in 2014 reached US$10.35 trillion, which placed itself as the second largest economy in the world with 13% of global output (World Bank, 2016[1]) . At the same time, China has also been strengthening its quality of development and has invested significant resources in its transition to an inclusive green economy. It is true that China’s current economy still relies heavily on energy and resource consumption, but the country is committed to structural change. As indicated by the “New Normal”, China is shifting its focus from heavy industries to consumption and service industries and searching for sound and balanced growth. 

Man on a boat

China’s official development strategy for green development is called Ecological Civilization[2], and there is already a strong policy framework and significant investment to support this strategy. From the Cleaner Production and the Renewable Energy Law, the mandatory energy intensity targets for local governments and companies to the newly revised Environmental Protection Law, the country has been placing significant policy attention on tackling growing environmental concerns. Up until May 2015, this consolidated effort by multiple Ministries has already attracted 14.5 billion RMB (US$2.3 billion) investment to Ecological Civilization development (Shanghai Securities News, May 8, 2015). The forthcoming 13th Five Year Plan, which is China’s national development  strategy for the year 2016-2020, will once again be centered around the development of Ecological Civilization. 

Rather than just a concept, economic opportunities are also arising from green development. As well as the eye-catching renewable energy industry in China, the environmental industry has also been emerging and is becoming a new engine of growth for China. For instance, the annual revenue of the industry has soared from US$20 billion in 2010 to US$459 billion in 2010, employing 3.19 million people. (Ministry of Environmental Protection, National Development and Reform Commission and National Bureau of Statistics, 2014[3]). According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection of China, the action plans for the control of air pollution, water pollution and the forthcoming soil pollution, will bring 8.5 trillion RMB (US$1.37 trillion) investment to the Environmental industry (Shanghai Securities News, June 4, 2015).

To trigger larger scale concrete actions, China joined PAGE in June 2015 at the provincial level in Jiangsu. Based on China’s experience in transitioning towards an inclusive green economy and the challenges the country is facing, there are two main objectives for PAGE’s support in Jiangsu Province. Firstly, to identify and exemplify successes and good practices to inspire other provinces and countries; secondly, to identify and analyse major challenges to inclusive green economy policy implementation. Two scoping missions have been conducted by PAGE partners in 2015 to understand green development status of the province as well as priorities. A stocktaking report is under preparation and it is expected to be launched in the second quarter of 2016. Through information sharing events, PAGE has already received a good deal of interest from other provinces and cities in China committed to inclusive green economy transition. A network will be established to facilitate learning and the sharing of information to encourage more actions. 


[1] World Bank (2016), World Development Indicators_GDP ranking (last updated: 17 Feb 2016). Available at: 

[2] Ecological Civilization is defined as “a resource efficient and environmental-friendly society, based on the carrying capacity of the environment, observing the law of nature and aimed at realizing sustainable development”. Hu Jintao (2012). Report of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. 

[3] Ministry of Environmental Protection, National Development and Reform Commission and National Bureau of Statistics (2014), the 2011 National Environmental Protection Industry Bulletin. 


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