“China is dedicated to low-carbon and sustainable growth,” said Chen Dawei, head of the visiting Chinese delegation to the Worldwatch Institute. “[The] Institute’s experience and current works on promoting green development are really impressive and I hope collaborative projects can be developed through this meeting,” said Mr. Chen. Back in China, Mr. Chen is the Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD). He is leading the Low-Carbon Economy and Sustainable Urban delegation, which consists of more than 25 high level officials from Chinese central, provincial, and municipal governments.
The visit was organized by the Global Educational Institute at Georgetown University. During the meeting, Christopher Flavin, Worldwatch’s president emeritus, delivered the opening remarks and briefly introduced to the Chinese delegation the institute’s history, program layout, and major works. Alexander Ochs, the Director of the Climate and Energy Program, detailed our work in the Caribbean region by highlighting the unique characteristics of our Low-Carbon Energy Roadmap approach. I then provided an overview of our previous and ongoing China-related research works. In addition, I used this opportunity to introduce various ideas of our future China work, including a sketch of our plan to work with different levels of Chinese government.
The delegation was enthusiastic about our current work and future project ideas. They are particularly interested in how we would implement low-carbon energy roadmaps at a municipal level. In addressing the delegation’s concerns regarding economic, social, and resource differences between diverse regions in the country’s vast landscape, Alex pointed out that the bottom-up analysis and locally-tailored flexibility are two of the strengths of our roadmap approach. Our Caribbean project is currently focusing on three countries, the Dominic Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica, and each has its own unique combination of low-carbon energy resources and socioeconomic and political circumstances. In fact, our research team is able to work with experts and local governments to come up with specific solution packages that fit well with local conditions.
During the discussion, the delegation pointed out that the greatest challenge in China is not a lack of plans or policies, but in how to enforce these plans and policies in an effective and efficient way. That is why the delegation thinks highly of our comprehensive approach, which integrates resource mapping, technical assessments, and infrastructure planning with environmental, economic, and social impact analyses. As a result, our research yields concrete implementation strategies with locally-tailored recommendations, which will make sure intended policy impacts are realized.
Overall, this meeting was very successful. We were somewhat surprised by the candidness and knowledge of the delegation members regarding China’s green transition process and the problems they are facing. After the meeting, we were approached by several local governmental officials, warmly inviting us to explore potential collaboration projects with them. The same eagerness and willingness to go green was sensed in another meeting Worldwatch had with a visiting delegation from Hunan province, China this week.
Such enthusiasm clearly shows that the Chinese are serious about a green economy and green development. The paradigm shift will not be without hurdles in the future, but it appears the policymakers have made up their minds to go in a more sustainable direction. What China currently needs is more professional advice from both domestic and international sources to help make the transition process more sustainable. With a mission to deliver insights and ideas that empower global policymakers to create an environmentally sustainable society, Worldwatch has been conducting successful work in China, and we believe there will be many more project opportunities ahead in the future.