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Healthy approach as China takes leading global green role

Updated: 2020-09-10 07:45:00

( China Daily )

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Technology and machines have drastically changed our way of life and improved the way we think and work over the years, especially through applications like WeChat or Didi, while logistics has made life that much easier leading to death of distance. Speed and dispatch is the new slogan. My over a dozen years in China will bear ample testimony to this. But, in the process, pollution and air quality took a hit, here and everywhere else on Planet Earth.

The Paris Agreement signed in 2015 was supposed to be the game-changing agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to deal with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance.

To understand the subject better I spoke to my friend Arvea Marieni, a Hamburg, Germany-based climate change expert and an adviser to Resilience Frontiers, a United Nations-led project that promotes sustainability and regenerative prosperity globally.

According to Arvea, China has been taking a series of decisive steps to ensure that communities, regions and biosystems within the country not only survive but thrive again. She mentioned some of the recent government initiatives like green bonds, food waste campaign etc as steps that would move the country firmly onto the circular economy path.

"China's green bond efforts have been a game changer globally as it is shaping the way financial and investment decisions are being taken across the world," she said.

Arvea says one of the most successful sustainability projects globally in recent times has been the reforestation plan in the hilly Qianyanzhou region of Jiangxi province, East China. The region, which had faced severe soil erosion due to deforestation and unsustainable farming practices, is now a "green delight". Over the last 30 years, a series of government-backed land-use plans have promoted the sustainable use of land resources, leading to higher incomes, better biodiversity, and an improved microclimate, she said.

She believes that China and the European Union must lead the world in adoption of sustainable practices.

The EU-China Climate Summit later this month will be an opportunity to assess the feasibility of a common platform aimed at establishing forms of mutual and "competitive cooperation" in order to decarbonize the global economy, said Arvea.

Her words resonate with me. Xie Zhenhua, special adviser to China's environment ministry and formerly its chief climate representative, said in his remarks at the Tsinghua Global Summer School in July that "no country can stand aloof or stay behind. Man and man, man and nature have become an increasingly interdependent community of common destiny". Radical weather events are frequent in each continent, he said, causing great loss to ecology and human life and safety apart from the huge economic costs.

Youssef Nassef, a UN official who launched the Resilience Frontiers initiative in 2019, believes that: "Our (RF) work is compatible with the Chinese outlook towards adopting an ecological-friendly perspective on future resilience. RF takes into account the future paradigm shift in data technologies and how these can contribute to enhancing the human interface with nature in a way that ensures long-term resilience."

One of the most recent examples of taking a collective approach for green benefits is the newly approved forest regulation of China which outlaws trade and consumption of illegally logged wood. The regulation will help reduce the terrible levels of deforestation, said Arvea.

From a global perspective, it is the Vertical Forest in Milan, Italy developed by Stefano Boeri which has been a shining example. The project was the first of a new generation of high-rise urban buildings completely covered by the leaves of trees and plants and promoted the coexistence of architecture and nature in urban areas. It has also set the model for social housing projects worldwide, including in China, she said.

Soothing words these, for sure.

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