Leading sustainability experts from around the world convened in Beijing, China and online to discuss policy recommendations for China. The recommendations are designed to inform China’s environment and development policies and practices, including its domestic policies, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and contributions to global environmental governance processes.
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) took place from 7-9 September 2021. Guided by the theme ‘For Nature and Humanity: Building a Community of Life Together,’ experts from governments, academia, the business community, and civil society presented research findings and recommendations arising from CCICED’s Special Policy Studies (SPS) on critical issues related to the environment and development.
Discussions emphasized that the climate and biodiversity crises are already affecting economies and well-being.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary of the meeting indicates that discussions throughout the meeting “emphasized the urgency of the climate and biodiversity crises and the impacts they are already having on economies and well-being. Speakers highlighted the potential for China to play a leadership role in transforming development practices to address the unfolding ecological crisis. Discussions also addressed the importance of identifying and implementing nature-based solutions to socio-environmental problems, as well as taking holistic approaches that recognize the complexity of multifaceted challenges.”
Among the opening statements, Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), outlined opportunities for China’s leadership, including by accelerating action on the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through: green COVID-19 recovery spending; phasing out coal and moving to renewable energy; making the BRI “biodiversity positive;” embedding sustainability in international policies; strengthening biodiversity protection in China’s coastal waters and high seas; and working through the World Trade Organization (WTO) to reach an agreement on ending fishing subsidies.
Liu Shijin, CCICED Chinese Chief Advisor, outlined the recommendations to be given to the Chinese Government, including promoting pollution control, promoting urban regeneration that will create a new paradigm for urbanization and rural revitalization, and coordinating domestic targets with the international governance process.
Stephan Contius, Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, proposed broadening the Council’s work on climate change, saying the Council should contribute to the acceleration of action in China, particularly for concrete actions for decarbonization.
Research and policy recommendations presented during the AGM included:
- On Global Climate Governance and China’s Role, China should: introduce and gradually strengthen an absolute cap on emissions, prioritizing renewable energies; accelerate development of carbon pricing by setting market signals and promoting green financing; and strengthen international climate diplomacy.
- On the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, China should: identify initiatives and actions to maintain high-level momentum; determine how much protected area is needed and where; and elaborate ecological redlining mechanisms.
- On Global Ocean Governance and Ecological Civilization, China should focus on governance of sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and the ocean’s future.
- On Green Transition and Sustainable Social Governance, action should focus on: integrating green consumption and production in national legislation; strengthening monitoring and data collection systems; and defining sectoral interventions, starting with the automobile, steel, food, and waste management sectors.
- On Major Green Technology Innovation and Implementation Mechanisms, recommendations included recognizing the need for: a national carbon market; incentivizing technology transformation to achieve a net zero transition; and recognizing subnational governments’ role in deploying green technologies.
- On Global Green Value Chains, the research highlighted that greening global value chains will increase security and support China’s dual circulation economic model and commitment to carbon neutrality.
- On Green Finance, recommendations included: establishing regulatory financial frameworks for nature-positive activities; increasing product selection for green finance; encouraging lenders to use quantitative approaches to better apply standards, assess risk, and determine impacts of green investments; and extending liability for environmental crimes and strengthening enforcement.
- On Gender Mainstreaming in SPS Research, recommendations included: commissioning a gender analysis for each SPS; documenting relevant case studies; and including gender-focused recommendations in each research area.
During a closing plenary session, Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said the discussions had identified five goals: collectively scaling up ambition through Chinese leadership; accelerating progress toward green energy, lifestyles, and business, propelled by digitalization; aligning investments with the Paris Agreement goals, the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, and the SDGs, including eliminating coal investments; pursuing equity, particularly gender equity; and mobilizing resources for nature-based solutions.
During a press conference at the conclusion of the event, Scott Vaughan, CCICED International Chief Advisor, highlighted four key issues discussed during the week: the challenge and complexity of implementing integrated policies; achieving high-quality development; designing green technology systems; and applying a gender and equity lens to policymaking. [ENB coverage of CCICED Annual General Meeting][ENB summary of the CCICED Annual General Meeting][CCICED Website]