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Openign Speech by Xie Zhenhua


  Distinguished Mr. Chair, Members, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

  I would like to express my warm welcome to the members and friends at the fourth meeting of the second phase CCICED. We are glad to see that researches of CCICED is conducted deeper, with the key points at more important positions and the wor k more effective than before, which is of more important role in promoting the en vironment and development in China.

  Ever since the last meeting , new progress has been made in the environmental pro tection in China. It is expected that the environmental protection tasks designat ed by the government in the ninth Five-Year Plan period could be basically compl eted. In accordance with the laws, there are over 234000 enterprises that have con ducted deadline treatment in the whole country. Up till now, there are 90% of the enterprises that have completed the tasks of attaining the discharge standards. T he discharge of 12 major pollutants will reduce by 15% compared with 1995. New pr ogress has been made in the "33211" engineering projects. The degrading trend of "three rivers" and"three lakes" has been controlled to certain extent, with th e wa ter quality of some waters turns better. The amount of SO2 reduced in two years i n the acid rain and SO2 controlling zones is 1. 86 million tons. Further work has b een conducted in the environmental protection in key cities and enterprises. A se ries of cities with coordinated development of environment and economy have been awarded with the titles of national model cities of environmental protection. So me cities have increased the use of cleaner energy and improved the energy struc t ure. Cleaner production and ISO 14000 certification have been further promoted. T he input of environmental protection has increased in a stable way . In the ninth Five-Year Plan period, the input of ecological construction and environmental pr otection will hit 380 billion yuan, being 0. 97% of the GDP in the same period and 0. 24% over that in the eighth Five-Year Plan period. The environmental legislati on and policies have been stre ngthened and improved continuously. The Air Pollution Prevention Law amended this year has made great breakthroughs in the total pollutant discharge and pollutio n discharge permit. The taxation policies beneficial to the environmental protect ion have been set up and the role of economy has been strengthened gradually.  

  Important progress has been made in ecological environmental protection and cons truction. The preliminary statistics show that during the ninth Five-Year Plan pe riod, the forest areas completed in the entire country is 25 million hectares and the forest coverage hits 16. 55%;the artificial grassland constructed is 7. 3 mil lion hectares and 6. 7 million hectares of grassland have been treated;the area o f soil erosion treatment is 230000 hectares;there are 1146 natural reserves of v arious kinds have been set up, the area being 88. 128 million hectares, accounting for 8. 8% of the national territory;212 national ecological demonstration sites h ave been set up in the entire country;over 2000 eco-farming demonstration sites have been set up at county, town and village levels. Some provinces have put forth str ategic schemes of ecological provinces have been put forth. 

  With the strenuous efforts for many years, the degrading trend of environmental p ollution in China has begun to slow down. However, we should keep it clearly in ou r minds that the environmental pollution in China remains at high level;the perc entage of domestic pollution has been increasing continuously;the non-point agri culture source pollution is becoming more and more serious;the degrading trend of ecology has not yet been controlled effectively;the environmental pollution and ecological damages in some areas are still rather serious and the environmental situation remains rather tough. 

  During the tenth Five-Year Plan period, the population will continue to grow;the industrialization and urbanization is speeding up;the total economic amount keep s increasing;and there are lots of difficulties in controlling and reducing the t otal pollutant discharge. In the meantime, with the strategic targets of the third phase achieved on full scale, the requirements of the public on environmental qu ality are becoming higher and higher and the pressure of environmental protectio n is growing . It is a key topic for the environment and development in the tenth Five-Year Plan period to strengthen the environmental protection while developi ng the economy rapidly. 

  Great Western Development is of great significance to all China. It is also a key component of the Tenth Five-Year Plan of the Chinese Government. It is very time ly and important for this meeting to discuss issues related to western developme nt as the main theme. Now that the Great Western Development Strategy has been pu t forward, it becomes an important agenda for governments at all levels to achieve environmental and economic "leapfrog" in the western regions. Over the past ye ars, a number of recommendations made by the China Council have been adopted an implemented, and have become and important basis for decision-making of the Chine se Government and its relevant departments. We have reason to believe that, the ou t come of this meeting will have important impact on China's Great Western Develop ment. 

  Given the fragility of its ecological environment and the importance of its stra t egic location, the western regions much follow the principle of "Putting Prevent ion and Conservation as Priority" in the development process. Chinese top-level decision-makers should regard ecological construction and environmental protecti on as the foundation and starting point of Great Western Development, and adopt t he sustainable development strategy as the guiding principle. It is of vital impo rtance to implement the system of integrated decision-making of environment and development and carry out environmental impact assessment for key plans of econo mic development and resources development, so as to prevent big mistakes in decis ion making. At the same time, strict implementation of environmental impact assess ment could also help avoid environmental pollution and environmental degradation . China is currently conducting surveys on the ecological environment of the west ern regions. Based on these surveys, environmental planning and regional planning will be made, so as to provide macroscopic guide for the distribution and industr ial selection of new projects. Practical ecological protection measures will also be formulated to strengthen ecological environment. 

  China is a developing country, and is still faced with the challenging discrepanc y between the lack of environmental funding and great environmental demand. In th e next 5-10 years, China's modernization construction will continue to face the s evere challenge of environmental degradation. The Great Western Development is a complex systematic program, and will have strong impact on the entire country. The refore, we should be well prepared for the challenges, so that the Program could b e implemented more smoothly. More in-depth research needs to be carried out on ho w to achieve "leapfrog" development. I believe that Council members and experts will fully express their ideas at the meeting, and contribute their wisdom to Chi na's environment and development.

 It has been 9 years since the establishment of CCICED in 1992. From last year, at the request of CIDA, the Secretariat conducted a self-assessment for the "China Council Project", Many Council Members and WG Co-Chairs participated in the self -a ssessment exercise. The Self-Assessment Report has been distributed to Council Me mbers and WG Co-Chairs. From the SA Report, it can be seen that, there is still muc h room for the Council to improve in the future. But the general consensus in the report is that, the China Council is a unique model of cooperation between China and the international community, is a unique forum for promoting China's environ ment and development, and is the common pride of us all. During the 8 years of its existence, the China Council has grown up and is now bearing fruits. Just as Vice Chair Dr. Len Good said a few minutes ago, we will continue into the 3rd Ph ase. As to how we should change for the 3rd Phase , we still have one year t o think over and discuss. We welcome Council members to provide us with valuable suggestions on this issue and continue to support the work of the China Council in the future. 

  Lastly, I wish the meeting a complete success.

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