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China to establish national eco-experimental zones

Updated: Aug 23,2016 7:18 AM     Xinhua

BEIJING — China will establish several national ecological experimental zones to explore reforms ranging from natural resource balance sheets to ecological performance evaluation of officials, according to an official guideline published on Aug 22.

The guideline, released by the general offices of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council, aimed at carrying out reforms on “ecological civilization system.”

According to targets set in the guideline, major progress shall be achieved by 2017 and fully-fledged ecological civilization systems shall be established by 2020, with best practices replicable across the country.

Main experiments will include establishing a natural resource property right system, compiling natural resource balance sheet, optimizing land and space planning, and incorporating ecological performance into officials’ evaluation.

Fujian, Jiangxi and Guizhou provinces, which have “relatively optimal ecological foundation, and relatively strong environmental and resource capacity,” were selected as the first batch of experimental zones.

An implementation plan for Fujian province was released together with the guideline on Aug 22.

According to the implementation plan, Fujian will strive to become a leader in national land and space planning by explicitly reserving land and space for ecological protection, and never overstepping the “red line.”

Fujian will also strive to establish a property rights system of natural resource assets as well as systems that reflect market values of ecological products, thereby introducing economic incentives into ecological protection.

The province will also try to improve officials’ performance evaluation to reflect their “ecological performance” such as resource depletion or environmental degradation on their watch.

Specific measures will include compiling natural resource balance sheets, and natural resource asset auditing at times when the official in charge concludes his or her term.

Targets were set in the plan, including that water quality of over 90 percent of water systems in the province will reach optimal level, 23 cities will enjoy good air quality on over 90 percent of days, and forest coverage will pass 66 percent by 2020.

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