Eco-civilization illuminates path to sustainable future

(Xinhua) 09:45, October 15, 2021

A Tibetan antelope is seen at Hol Xil area of Sanjiangyuan National Park in northwest China's Qinghai Province, Sept. 28, 2021. (Xinhua/Xue Yubin)

KUNMING, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- At a time when the world is struggling to find ways to reverse the trend of biodiversity loss, China has provided a sound solution: the harmonious co-existence between mankind and nature.

"All beings flourish when they live in harmony and receive nourishment from nature," said Chinese President Xi Jinping while addressing the leaders' summit of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15).

"If we humanity do not fail nature, nature will not fail us. Ecological civilization represents the development trend of human civilization," he said.

Xi's philosophical thinking on the relationship between mankind and nature serves as the guiding theory underpinning the country's sustainable development efforts, while shedding light on where human civilization should be headed.


Themed "Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth," the ongoing COP15 conference in southwest China's "spring city" of Kunming is seeing heated discussions on how countries can best achieve the goal of living in harmony with nature.

"Ecological civilization as a philosophy has a lot of merit," said Terry Townshend, fellow of the Paulson Institute, in an interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the COP15.

"It is the right way to move in the sense of recognizing that we are part of nature, because in today's urbanized world, it's quite easy to think that we're separate from nature or somehow in control of nature. And we're not," he said.

Rooted in the traditional Chinese culture, which takes man as an integral part of nature, where all beings are equal, the idea of eco-civilization has been mentioned by Xi on various occasions.

"China has pursued development under the vision of building an ecological civilization," Xi said at the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity last September.

Under his leadership, the country has incorporated ecological considerations into many important policy decisions. Ecological civilization was written into the country's Constitution in 2018.

"China's modernization has many important characteristics, and one of them is man-nature harmony," Xi said during a study session of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee in May.

Xi's Thought on Ecological Civilization consists of many principles, including ensuring harmony between mankind and nature, regarding a sound ecological environment as the most inclusive benefit to people's well-being, as well as viewing mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes, grasslands and deserts as a community of life.

The thought is "the oriental wisdom" contributed by the Chinese "to the transformation of human society from industrial civilization to ecological civilization," Huang Chengliang, a researcher with a think tank for eco-civilization studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The renewed remarks by Xi at the COP15 on eco-civilization came at a time when the world is at a critical moment to reverse a deteriorating trend of biodiversity loss.

As a long-time researcher in animal biodiversity, Zhan Xiangjiang, deputy director of the Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that he was very touched by Xi's remarks on how human civilization would involve eco-civilization in its development.

"It is a forward-looking and strategic statement for biodiversity conservation on the global level," he said.


It's not only about ideas. Over the years, China has taken many concrete steps on the environmental front, with the eco-civilization philosophy as the underpinning.

The country is pioneering an "ecological red line" mechanism, which has given environmental-protection status to no less than 25 percent of its land area.

China's proposal of drawing a "red line" for ecological protection to mitigate and adapt to climate change has been selected by the UN as one of the 15 best nature-based solutions around the globe.

At the COP15, Xi announced fresh measures in his latest effort to champion eco-civilization.

China will take the lead by investing 1.5 billion yuan (233 million U.S. dollars) in a new fund to support biodiversity protection in developing countries, Xi announced, inviting all countries to participate in it.

"The new money for biodiversity conservation is very helpful, particularly when it's directed to developing countries, because developing countries have the richest biodiversity," said Townshend.

While the fund would be "a move in the right direction," more money from both the public and private sectors will be needed to bridge the financing gap, he said.

China also officially designated the first group of national parks on Tuesday, a move to further improve the national park system amid the country's nature conservation efforts.

The national parks will not only help biodiversity conservation, but also become models of sustainable development that will benefit the people, said Shahbaz Khan, director and UNESCO representative to China, the Democatic People's Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia and the Republic of Korea.

"The national parks are going to be a wonderful contribution as new models of governance," he said. 

(Web editor: Shi Xi, Du Mingming)


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