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    For information only - not an official document

    10 June 2015

    Re-issued as received

    Sustainability of China's development depends on shift to eco-friendly, resource efficient production

    BEIJING/VIENNA, 9 June (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) - For China's development trajectory to turn in sustainable direction, it needs to adopt a resource-efficient and circular approach, according to the Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Li Yong. Adding that inclusive and sustainable industrial development needs to be part of the solution, he said the Organization suggests three ways forward in this respect.

    Li was speaking today at the high-level advisory meeting of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), which discussed the environmental challenges and opportunities faced by China as it pursues its strategic objectives before the start of its 13th Five-Year Plan.

    "Given the unabated global growth in the consumption of natural resources, the Chinese economy must fully embrace the notions of resource efficiency and a circular economy in order to become sustainable. The incentivizing of material, water and energy efficiency, as well as support for recycling industries and eco-design, will help reduce the already significant pressure on China's natural capital, as well as the emissions generated by its industries," said Director General Li.

    Li said that tackling the unsustainable use of natural resources and combating pollutants would be vital to ensure China's future development, and that, in this respect, UNIDO sees three ways forward.

    First, the modernization of industrial production forms the centrepiece of any effort to "green" the Chinese economy. This can be done in a cost-effective manner linked to increases in both competitiveness and productivity, as demonstrated by UNIDO around the world, including in China, in the areas of cleaner production, industrial energy efficiency and eco-industrial parks.

    Second, green products and services will be needed in order to realize the environmental objectives of the 13th Five-Year Plan, particularly given the economic, environmental and social pressures that are re-shaping the Chinese growth model.

    Third, waste and pollutants accumulated in the past will need to be cleaned up and remediated in order to prevent them from further contaminating soils and water bodies, and accumulating in food supply systems. Such re-investment in the natural capital of the country will contribute to securing clean water, air and food for all citizens of China in the future.

    "Resolving the complex relationship between economic development and environmental management lies at the core of UNIDO's mandate of promoting inclusive and sustainable industrial development. UNIDO can provide unique and actionable insights to promote sustained economic growth, while respecting planetary boundaries and investing in natural and social capital," said Li.

    He added that, as the United Nations fosters consensus amongst its Member States on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), environmental management forms a central part of the agenda, just as it does for the 13th Five-Year Plan.

    "To succeed, both efforts will need to limit the negative environmental impacts of industrial production, while creating the enabling conditions for industry to seize emerging market opportunities. For China, this will mean setting clear targets and limits with regard to reducing its environmental footprint. It is important to realize, however, that this does not necessarily result in a loss for industry: environmental issues and global trade are becoming increasingly intertwined and China therefore only stands to gain by strengthening its environmental policies and standards," said Director General Li.

    He noted the need for an effective interaction between the government and industry to define emission limits and set effective targets, and encouraged China to strengthen its overall environmental standards framework and to align it with international best practices.

    On the same day, Director General Li Yong, together with other high level participants of the CCICED meeting, paid a courtesy call to Zhang Gaoli, Vice Premier.

    In 2014, UNIDO and the Government of China signed a Strategic Cooperation Framework 2014-2016 with a focus on green industry and food safety.

    Read the full speech by Director General Li Yong here.


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    For more information, please contact:

    Stephan Sicars
    Director, UNIDO Environment Branch
    Email: s.sicars[at]