Insight Briefing - 'Ecological Progress'

Understanding China's new framework for sustainable development
Reading time: 9 minutes
16 March 2015

This time next year, China will release its 13th Five Year Plan – the blueprint that will guide the country’s economic and political progress between 2016 and 2020. There can be little doubt that the targets and policies that are set in the Plan will have global implications, as China moves to become the world’s largest economy.

But crucially, and for the first time, this master plan will also be guided by the concept of ‘Ecological Progress’ – the Chinese government’s unique and evolving framing concept for sustainable development.

Our briefing explores the Ecological Progress concept, which the government is now seeking to put into practice to curb its record levels of pollution, consumption and dependence on resource imports, in its new economic five-year plan.

Despite some challenges, giving the private sector a greater role could ensure the Ecological Progress works, as it will lessen the financial load on government and provide incentives for business to shoulder greater responsibility for China’s dangerous pollution levels – a critical topic at the National People’s Congress which concludes the same day this report is released.

The incorporation of such a concept into China’s central planning process is timely. During a year in which the international community will announce new UN Sustainable Development Goals and agree a new global climate treaty, China’s ambition and direction on environmental and sustainability issues is more important than ever.

Based on the views and research of leading Chinese academics, this briefing looks at China’s plans for ‘Ecological Progress’ its origins, development, challenges and potential impact on the country’s sustainable development.

To explore the outcomes from National People’s Congress and discuss how China will deliver its promises through Ecological Progress, we hosted a live Twitter Q&A with our China Director Changhua Wu on March 16. Read a summary here.

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