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Closing Ceremony Speech by Gu Ming


  Dear Friends,

  Ladies and Gentlemen,

  Thanks to the common efforts made by all the participants in the past three days, and their intense and fruitful work, the First Meeting of the Second Phase of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development h as smoothly finished its agenda as we expected. During the meeting, members and experts have introduced their achievements during the past year, produced the work plans of the Working Groups in the five yeas to come, and provided rich research materials and many valuable recommendations to the Chinese Government. They have spoken their minds freely, have aired their own views in an earnest and sincere manner, and have actively offered advice for the environment and development in China. This is of great benefit to the second work phase of the Working Groups and of great significance to the implementation of the major theme of the Fourth National Conference on Environmental Protection.

  Environmental protection has a close bearing on everyone. It is widely recognize d by the public in western countries, while in China people are just beginning t o realize its implications. A large-scale sampling survey on public awareness of environmental protection was once held in China. One of the questions asked in the survey was "Suppose there is a paper mill in your region that has good economic returns and is the major source of economic income of the local residents, but the sewage water of this paper mill is discharged into the nearby rivers, causing water source pollution and environmental quality degradation down to the lower reaches. Do you agree with the Government's decision of closing down the factory?" The results that most people were in favour of this decision. This sampling survey indicates that the public environmental awareness of Chinese people ha s been considerably enhanced and that most people would give environmental protection a priority even when environmental protection contradicts with economic development and improvement of living standards. In the Huaihe River Basin, the State Council has given orders to shut down a batch of enterprises that cause sever e pollution, because the pollution in that area has directly affected the production, life and social stability. Although shutting down these enterprises would certainly affect local economic development and economic income, the people in t his basin firmly supported the Government's decision. The enhancement of public environmental awareness provides the necessary foundation for the development of China's cause of environmental protection.

  The Chinese Government's determination for environmental protection is firm, and governments at all levels consistently adhere to this basic state policy. However, we should keep in mind the fact that as a developing country with one-fifth of the world population and a relatively weak comprehensive national strength, China is still confronted with serious problems. For example, some people still do not even have adequate food and clothing. In some regions, the problems of ecological degradation are caused by backward modes of production and insufficient resources; environmental pollution is the result of energy and resource-consuming economic structure. China faces up to the difficulties on the road to sustainable development, and understands that we must rely on our own efforts to solve these problems. Meanwhile, we also place hope on carrying out multilateral and bilateral cooperation with various international organizations and other countries.

  Environmental protection and sustainable development are the common wishes and goals shared by all mankind. The international community should help each other, draw on each other's merits, offset one's own weakness with anther's strength, an d move forward hand in hand. Gathered together here in the Council are many well-known experts and scholars from both home and abroad who offer good advice to China's environmental problems. We are confidant that, with the concerted efforts of so many experts and scholars, the Council will surely make great achievements and promote and development of China's environmental protection cause.

  Finally, I would like to extend our gratitude again to the foreign friends coming from afar for your support and assistance in the field of environment and development in China. At the same time, I would also like to express our heartfelt t hanks to all the Chinese experts for your kind cooperation and fine work.

  Thank you all.

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