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Guizhou's rivers are in need of governance

Date
25 April 2013
Guizhou's rivers are in need of governance

By Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group.

This week I have been in Guiyang, the capital of the Guizhou Province, to study and explore the establishment of ecological compensation mechanisms in water-basin resources management.

Arriving at Guiyang's Longdongbao Airport, I noticed the city had undergone infrastructure improvement and updates that gave it a newer, urban feel. But during my first morning there, I overheard people talking about the state of Nanming District governance - it seems there is still a lot of work to be done. People talked about the Guiyang 'street feeling', wherein the overall feel is that the city is not clean. But it is improving.

The focus for improvement lies in Guiyang's urban Nanming River, which is essentially the soul of the city, as in most cities. And I have been to many - Kyoto, London, Bonn... - they are all striking cities which usually boast a beautiful river, that offers an important center-point for its local residents. Rivers are an integral part of ecological civilization. But here in Guiyang, the river does not make a good first impression. There is sewage in the river and it is clearly not being well managed. It is in urgent need of governance.  

We must bring local leadership together to better understand the reasons for action, and possible courses of action. There are existing solutions, such as the social media space through which the environmental movement has already shown its impact. For example many local leaders have paid close attention to the problems of air pollution and local air quality, ever since people began to discuss it online. However, in many places the exchange of scientific and comprehensive interpretation of intellectual resources on air pollution is scarce, so it can be difficult to seize this opportunity. Environmental organizations should work with the research community in raising public awareness and therefore coordinating greater action from government. 

Also in the Province of Guizhou is the Renhuai district, which I visited to investigate the employment situation in Maotai town, as well as ecological compensation mechanisms that are being established around its water conservation. Here, the district's Chishui River looked equally abandoned; the water level is very low. Renhuai officials said there have been several trends that may have caused this, including increasing garbage as well as deteriorating water quality. Water is one of the basic raw materials of the town's main production, Maotai liquor, so with the decreasing health of the river, local development has also been threatened.

We must improve Guizhou's rivers, for the local economy and for a better environment for the province to work, live and enjoy being near.

river china

My photo of the  Chishui River.

Read more of Changhua's posts and follow her on Twitter at @ChanghuaWu.

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