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PauI Thibault-Opening Remarks China Coumcil AGM


  It is a great pleasure for me to return to the China Council for my second year. Last year, I arrived as a novice without knowing quite what to expect-but I learned what a unique institution this is in its ability to provide honest, expert, policy advice to the Government of China on all aspects of Environment and development.

  After a year of reflection on the work of the Council, I am more convinced than ever that is a unique organization, which also demonstrates capacity to adapt to China's rapidly changing circumstances and challenges. Currently the top priority for the Chinese Government is meeting the daunting challenges of sustainable agriculture and rural development and that is precisely the central topic of our deliberations at this meeting. Our experts who wrote the report on the Agriculture Task Force and the Issue Paper were given only one year to analyze this huge and difficult topic and make recommendations on how to handle its many complex aspects. And their work is complemented by the reports of the other three Task Forces on related topics. In my view, they have all worked together quickly and effectively and produced some bold and relevant findings and policy proposals. I congratulate them on their work and look forward to the Council's discussions on their reports and to the crafting of our final recommendations in this vital sector.

  Sometimes the China Council tends to forget that its mandate includes development as well as environment. I am pleased to note that this year we have redressed the balance and given appropriate emphasis to the development side of the equation, particularly in the Agriculture and Rural Development Report. In my view, this Report is clear and forthright in devoting the bulk of its attention to critical development aspects of the rural problem, knowing that the bulk of the environmental issues are being addressed by the other Reports. As the Head of a Development Agency, I recommend this approach and would like to take this opportunity to remind the Council of the dual aspect of its mandate, Indeed, I believe that the China Council does not have conflicting objectives. If properly understood, environment and development are simply two sides of the same coin.

  Lastly, I wish to take this occasion to pay a small personal tribute to our colleague, Minister Xie. He has demonstrated leadership of the China Council since its inception. We have all been impressed by his ability, his energy, his fearless voice in fighting pollution and ecological degradation and his personal dedication to the cause of sustainable development. Some of you may know that all that effort took its toll and slowed him down temporarily with illness this year-but we are delighted to see him back again looking fit and ready to resume his great leadership role in this Council and in SEPA.

  Thank you.

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