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Speech at the Closing Ceremony Phase(Xie Zhenhua)

2005-11-20author:Xie Zhenhuasource:

  Honorable Vice Chairs, Council Members, distinguished experts, ladies and gentlemen,

  After three days' heavy and orderly work, the 4th Meeting of CCICED Phase III concludes today. Though lasting for rather a short period of time, this meeting touched upon a lot of topics and gained fruitful results. Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan delivered an important speech at the opening ceremony of this meeting, deliberating the objectives, tasks and policy measures for China in sticking to the scientific development concept and implementing the strategy of sustainable development, putting forward the major tasks China will be handling in the construction of resource-saving and environmental-friendly society and introducing the key areas for the launching of international environmental cooperation for mutual benefit and win-win result. In this afternoon, Premier Wen jiabao will meet Council Members and experts to listen to their recommendations to the Chinese Government. Here I'd like to give you a brief summary of the meeting.

  At this meeting, we first examined and adopted the adjustment plan for the Council Members. Due to work change, the posts of both International Executive Vice Chair and the Chinese Vice Chair would be succeeded by Mr. Green Hill, the president of Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Mr. Jiang Weixin, Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China. In addition, Mr. Li Jiayang, Vice President of China Academy of Sciences and Mr. Børge Brende, former Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry have become two new Council Members. During our three days' discussion, our new Council Members have been enthusiastic in the work of CCICED and showed great concern to the key issues for China's environment and development. They have quickly integrated into our big family of CCICED and added new vigor and vitality to its development.

  This meeting has invited Ms. Mona Sahlin, Swedish Minister for Sustainable Development and Mr. Xu Kuangdi, Vice-Chairman of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference to deliver keynote speeches and invited Mr. Sueyoshi, Mayor of Kitakyoshu for special guest speech. Their speeches were so magnificent and left a deep impression to all of us. The Lead Experts of the Council has reported the Issues Paper on Sustainable Urbanization. With rich contents, this Paper focuses on the key issues of sustainable urbanization of China and tabled policy measures targeting those issues. In the meeting, we also listened to the work reports of the 5 Task Forces on Sustainable Urbanization Strategy, Environmental and Natural Resources Pricing and Taxation, Circular Economy, Sustainable Transportation as well as Economic Growth and Development. The Lead Experts and the Task Forces have also done a great deal of work, laying a solid foundation for the finalization of policy recommendations to be submitted to the Chinese Government. Prior to this meeting, some International Council Members visited Tianjin and Weihai and were deeply impressed by the new appearance by the two cities.

  At this meeting, we have made in-depth and fruitful deliberations on the theme of Sustainable Urbanization. All the Council members expressed their views freely, bringing forward foresights and recommendations to the Chinese Government.

  It is agreed that the urbanization process of China is now at a critical stage. According to international experience, the development status of urbanization in the following 15 years will affect the urban layout for the next 5 decades. Various problems such as environmental deterioration, disordered urban expansion, widening gap between the rich and the poor would probably emerge alone with the growth of GDP if the urbanization was not developed in a proper way. During the next 15 years, the urbanization growth rate of China would stand at 1% annually, jumping from 42% to around 57%, with 300 million rural residents moving to cities at that time. This would be a grant and arduous task for China without any precedent in history to follow. The rapid urbanization development of China would definitely exert great influence to the whole world. During this process, China will face the challenges of such problems as energy shortage and low efficiency, degradation of urban eco-system, weakening of the eco-functions, worsening of air, water and environmental pollution in urban areas, gradual disappearing of urban and township culture heritage and the vanishing of ethnical features, urban traffic congestion, dissemination of diseases and frequent occurrence of natural disasters jeopardizing public security, widening wealth disparity and grave situation of employment. Up to now, no other countries across the globe have ever faced such a great challenge as China has.

  The Council Members conducted in-depth analysis of the problems appeared in the process of China's urbanization. First, we still have some deviation in our development concept featuring on mere pursuit of GDP growth, partial stress on the speed and scale of urban development and the lacking of sufficient understanding of issues such as the sustainable utilization of resources and energy, pollution prevention and control as well as the conservation of the eco-system and the scientific urban planning. In addition, we haven't put enough efforts in fulfilling the responsibilities on sustainable development and related performance indicators. Second, the regulating mechanism for sustainable development still has room for improvement in further input; economic policies concerning fiscal and taxation cannot be fully enforced; the pricing rule of resources stands quite irrational; and the growth of market is very slow. Third, the legal system of China is not sound enough. The capacity in law enforcement is weak, situations of failing to abide by the law in handling affairs and laxity in law enforcement still exist, and the penalties in dealing with environmental law-breaking activities are not severe enough. Fourth, the infrastructure construction is backward, which the urban administration level demands further improvement. All these realities cannot match the request posed by the rapid development of urbanization.

  As of countermeasures to the above-mentioned challenges, the Council Members have put forward quite a number of valuable recommendations based on the review of the successful and failed experience from home and abroad during urbanization evolvement.

  First, we must establish a correct performance attainment concept in light of the outlook of scientific development. The Council Members have fully agreed with the main theme of the 11th Five-Year Plan that China should adhere to conservational development, clean development, and sustainable development and strive for the establishment of resource-saving and environment-friendly society guided by the outlook of scientific development. What's more, we should step up the administrative performance indicators for government officials, which include factors concerning economic growth, environmental protection, recourse utilization, social equity, urban and rural coordination and the cultivation of unique cultures serving as the guidance for the sustainable development of urbanization.

  Second, we must make a scientific planning in urban construction. To decide the development direction, scale and spatial layout based on local environmental carrying capacity and resource supply. We are against extensive urban development pattern featuring on mere pursuit of scale. Instead, we should stick to the principle of people-oriented and accelerate urban infrastructure construction, upgrade urban administrative level and conserve natural sceneries and urban cultures with unique local characters with the aim of establishing cities suitable for human habitat. We should greatly develop circular economy, improve resource efficiency and recycling, reduce various urban wastes, strengthen urban transportation management and encourage the development of public transportation and bicycle.

  Third, we shall heighten the coordinated development between urban and rural areas with the combination of large, middle and small-sized cities and rural areas. We shall increase the input in public infrastructure and welfare utilities in middle and small-sized cities, improve environment quality and enhance the attraction of middle and small-sized cities, and give full play of the radiation effect of city groups in an effort to promote the overall improvement of urban culture level nationwide. We shall make comprehensive planning of urban development by taking into full account of the local natural conditions with the view of sharing environmental infrastructure facilities and jointly protecting regional environment. We should greatly improve the production and living conditions in rural areas, coordinate the construction of environmental protection infrastructure utilities between urban and rural areas, impose strict control measures on the transfer of urban pollution to rural areas, as well as advance the treatment of wastewater and domestic refuse in light of local conditions, spare no efforts in addressing the issue of drinking water safety in rural areas, develop clean energy suitable to rural situations, try to ameliorate the environmental appearance.

  Fourth, legal system, financial and taxation policies on environment are to be strengthened and perfected. Stepping up legislation on circular economy, ecology protection, control of pollution and city planning, etc., especially entrusting environmental protection departments with more power of supervision and enforcement so as to impose stricter penalty on illegal environmental conduct and truly implement laws, regulations and planning on environmental protection. Comprehensive financial and taxation policies should be developed proceeding from the perspective that they should help to perform the functions of protecting environment, managing natural resources and providing public environmental service to the society. The national Five-Year Plan should identify the financial support for environmental protection by central government, the proportions in annual GDP and central budget. Standard financial transfer and payment systems should be established to back up less developed areas with important eco functions and a pricing mechanism is also to be gradually formed to reflect the scarcity of resources and cost of pollution. The pricing of environmental services such as sewage treatment of different administrative regions should abide by the law of market and aim at maintaining river basin safety. Further research should be conducted on tax base and the rate of environmental tax as well as collecting system. Environmental taxation policies in favor of environmental protection are to be formulated to regulate social environmental behavior. Financial input on environment should be combined with market means to increase charging standard of sewage treatment and to guarantee the construction and operation of sewage treatment plant.

  Fifth, technology innovation should be promoted to conserve resources and protect environment. Accelerate the development and promotion of technologies that save energy, water and materials. Energy saving buildings, in particular, should be promoted greatly by speeding up the transformation of large buildings and public utilities. Boost the development of environmental friendly automobiles with small emission and make efforts on technical R & D and industrialization of clean coal technology, utilization of recycled water, desalination of seawater and purification of automobile exhaust gas. Active steps are to be taken to develop new energies and renewable energies and international cooperation in these fields are encouraged. Only efforts are made to have energy consumption per unit of output reduce by 4% annually can the target of reducing energy consumption by 20% in 2020 against that of 2005 be achieved.

  Sixth, publicity and human resource training are to be reinforced. Efforts are needed to open up channels for public participation and social supervision. More emphasis should be put on education and training of enterprises and decision-makers at all levels so that decisions are geared to the need of sustainable development, and enterprises comply with environmental laws and regulations to assume social responsibilities on a voluntary basis. An open, transparent and democratic management mode will be practiced by mobilizing the public to participate in the whole process of city planning from decision-making to implementation and supervision. A series of systems including hearing, notification, expert justification and decision consultation will be carried out to seek public opinions and enhance social supervision.

  All Members and experts,

  Vice Premier Zeng has noted that he supported the establishment of the fourth phase of CCICED. As a high-level consultation body for the Chinese government, CCICED raised lots of important concepts and policy recommendations, which have achieved great results in China's modernization process, thus greatly promote the cause of environment and development. Taking this opportunity, I would like to, on behalf of the Bureau, express my gratitude to all the Members and experts for your hard work. We also noticed that with the development of China's sustainable development cause, CCICED also faces the historical task of accelerating reform and further improving its level of consultation service. We will especially target the key problems on China's development apart from spreading advanced ideas, strengthening international exchange and making proposals on decisions and policies. Efforts are needed to put forward some feasible recommendations on China's environment and development from the perspective of the Chinese government and the State Council. We hope that all Members and experts will not only point out the existing problems of China, but also work out solutions, or even multiple options for Chinese government to consider. I hope our joint efforts will progress toward this direction.

  The theme of next year's AGM is "Outlook of Scientific Development and a Well-off Society". This theme covers a wide range of fields and of great significance. Whether China can meet the grand objective of building a well-off society in an all-round way will have great impact not only on China's sustainable development but also on that of the world. CCICED has established four task forces focusing on this theme, they are "Task Force on China's Environment and Development Progress & Prospects", "Task Force on Environmental Governance", "Task Force on Eco-compensation Mechanism" and "Task Force on Economic Growth and Environment". We hope all Members and experts will make in-depth research according to this theme and the objectives and tasks set forth by the 11th National Five-Year Plan, providing feasible and forward-looking measures and policies. The Bureau also suggests that the Secretariat of CCICED and its Canadian Office should strengthen capacity building, improve their ability and performance in order to guarantee a smooth operation of the new phase. The Bureau also suggests that the last meeting of CCICED Phase III be held in Beijing from Nov. 10 to 12, 2006.

  All Members and experts, we have fulfilled our planned tasks at this AGM. Thank you for your efforts that lead to abundant fruits. I am looking forward to the next AGM to discuss with you important plans for China's environment and development.

  Thank you!

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