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Speech at the Opening Ceremony(Margaret Biggs)

2008-11-12author:Margaret Biggssource:

  Honorable Vice Premier Mr. Li Keqiang and Minister Zhou Shengxian, and colleagues and friends. Let me express first that we are honored to have the Vice Premier with us today to share his thoughts and guidance as our Chair. Like our new Chair, the Vice Premier, this is my first Council meeting. I am privileged to join the Council with such a successful history. It brings the best Chinese and international expertise here on China’s pressing problems. I am struck by the dedication of Council Members and the complexity of the issues the Council addresses. As many of you may know the Council has been in existence since 1992, throughout history, it has enjoyed wide international support, reflecting awareness that problems affecting the environment know no borders. And meaning solutions can only flow from international cooperation. Over the past 16 years, the Council has become a unique forum for collaboration between policy makers, scientists, academics experts, and practitioners in China and internationally. It demonstrates not only   international commitments to cooperation in addressing environmental challenges, but also China’s determination to meet these challenges to the benefits of its people and global community.  I believe the work of the Council this year is relevant and important for China and the world as it has been many times in the history. And it comes at an important moment when the global community is facing a historic economic and financial crisis.

  Our agenda over the coming days covers remarkably interesting and challenging set of topics, including the consideration of pressing challenges that threaten economic progress in China and elsewhere, issues like sustainability and environmental innovation that can improve health, rural and urban development and economic opportunity in China’s future.  These are practical and urgent matters for our consideration. And I hope we can produce sound recommendations to the government of China. I wish to provide some concrete example of the task ahead us. Let me start with the most pressing matter. The serious situation of global recession and the need of new strategy of economic grow. As we know, the world economy and ecology are interlinked. We face the potentially grim situation of letting economic downtown getting the way of environmental progress. If it happens, we will add to our environmental debt. And that will burden future economy of China and others all. Alternatively it can be used as an opportunity to make a paradigm shift toward a model of economic development that is conducive to the environment with  sustainability and stability.  

  Our task Force on Innovation for an Environment-Friendly Society calls for national environmental action plan and program that  can move innovative technology from the lab into widespread application more quickly. These technologies will help prevent elusion and environmental degradation and will help China to be highly competitive in tomorrow’s economy.

  The thought innovation and ideas compares unless market develops.

  Our recommendation will have to deal with how this market can be developed and where international cooperation can be most effective in bring them about. We will also discuss the link between environment and health in China. Our Task Force on this topic takes the picture of a considerable uncertainty despite the welcome joint announcement by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Ministry of Health of an action plan. The damage to human health in China from environmental sources is still unknown, although it is a clearly major concern for both urban and rural areas. We will be examining recommendations for providing a much stronger and publicly available information base on toxic substances, and mechanism required to make the action plan effective. We will also consider relevant experience of other countries on how the issue of compensation for damage to health can be addressed.  

  This year we are giving early consideration to work as an important progress by several Task Forces on the issues of environment and energy. We are doing do because we recognize the topic of critical importance to China, domestically and internationally. Over the past two years, the CCICED has been exploring the subject of low carbon economy, drawing upon experience from a number of countries and the experience of leading economists and energy expert in China. Our Task Force on the topic has put preliminary recommendation urging further research on policy development on China’s part and suggesting consideration of low circular economy target in the planning for the 12th Five-Year Plan. 

  The financial crises has hit the world in the past months and leading to dramatic shift of regulations and the role of market. I understand strong regulation and the use of market based instruments have been the by-line of this Council’s work for many years. And we will continue discussion in this meeting with the new figure. 

  In closing, this meeting opens the opportunity to plant the seed of   innovation, the product of mechanisms of which exploration of  decades ahead. By helping China safeguarding the sustainability achievement, such as the advancement of development goal, the restoration of forests and grassland and environment sanitation, the China Council also helps the rest of the world to move closer to our mutual concern expressed by China as ecological civilization. We have been impressed with the seriousness and determination with which China is facing its environmental and development challenges and measures taking to address them. Among these measures, was the creation of the Ministry of Environmental Protection this year. And we offer our assurance of cooperation and support to Mr. Zhou and his colleagues.  It is our responsibility now on the Council to come forward with sound advice and well considered and constructive recommendations. Through this collaborative process, we all get profits. China has complex and far-reaching impacts on the rest of the world on global environmental issues and on economic development. Part of the measures taken by China will benefit us all. Because we learn from your new approaches and techniques and we all gain from international cooperation.    


  Therefore, it is a great pleasure that I join and welcoming you to what promises to be a valuable meeting at a timely moment for us all.

  Thank you.


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