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Premier vows greater efforts, cooperation in desert control

Updated: Aug 2,2013 4:18 PM     Xinhua

KUBUQI — Premier Li Keqiang said on August 2 that China is willing to deepen cooperation with foreign countries on desert control.

Li made the remarks in written congratulations to the 4th Kubuqi International Desert Forum that kicked off on August 2 in the Kubuqi Desert in north China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

Li highlighted the progress China has made in its battle with desertification, which has helped erect an ecological shield in the north, improve the environment and boost economic and social development in desert areas.

“We’re willing to strengthen cooperation with foreign countries in exploring and practicing new ideas and strategies for desert control and prevention, as well as new technologies and industries in environmental protection,” Li said.

In a speech delivered at the forum’s opening ceremony, Vice-Premier Wang Yang said China would scale up its desertification control and prevention efforts, inviting social forces and highlighting the role of science and technology.

With the theme of “Desert Ecology Technology,” the two-day forum has attracted hundreds of delegates from home and abroad to discuss desertification control.

In a congratulatory video sent to the forum, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognized China’s great achievements in desert control, while praising the forum for providing a platform for sharing experiences on afforestation and fighting desertification.

With global development and population growth, issues of land deterioration and desertification will worsen in the future, said Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, at the forum.

China has attached great importance to the issues and has lots of experience in desert control and ecological system development, as shown in its successful handling of the Kubuqi Desert, one of China’s largest. The concept of ecological civilization that China has raised before for itself will influence thinking around the world, he added.

Steiner said that the UN family shows great interest in the ecological concept adopted by China and believes it can both help shape a sustainable environment for the nation and provide significant inspiration for other countries.

The Kubuqi International Desert Forum is the only international forum dedicated to the development of the world’s desert ecological civilization and the first international desert forum in China.

Deserts cover nearly 40 million square kilometers of Earth, accounting for a quarter of its land surface. More than 110 countries and about 1 billion people around the world have been affected by desertification.

“The Chinese government strives to promote the construction of an ecological civilization, and the prevention of desertification is an important part of this,” said Wan Gang, minister of science and technology.

Wan advised that to reduce desertification, new technologies should be highlighted. “We need to build science and technology demonstration bases to develop technology and accumulate experiences in desert control, as well as encourage enterprises to develop ecological industries and improve their capacity for innovation.”

“National labs, research centers and other kinds of technological platforms, such as some science and research institutions and enterprises, should also share their resources and create more new value for the prevention of desertification, as well as cultivate talents for the field,” Wan said.

Wan urged that bilateral and multilateral cooperation is also needed in the fight on global desertification. It is necessary to learn and introduce advanced technologies and experiences from the world while also maintaining communication and exchanging views with other countries.

Participants of the forum have also taken part in a launch ceremony for the Kubuqi action on global desertification efforts in the Hero Slope in the Kubuqi Desert.

“In China, we have a saying that empty talk harms the nation, while practical work builds a nation. To combat desertification, what we need is more action,” said Sha Zukang, secretary-general of UN Rio+20 Summit, citing the way that people of Kubuqi have handled desertification as an example of “action.”

Although many countries have made great efforts to curb desertification, the results are not so attractive, and the desertification and the deterioration of land situations have worsened year by year, said Luc Gnacadja, executive secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification Secretariat.

The rest of the world may learn from the Kubuqi case, and it is expected that the Kubuqi model can spread around the world, helping to realize the target of no increases in land deterioration by 2030, he said.

Twenty years ago, the barren and sandstorm-stricken Kubuqi Desert had no roads, no vegetation and no means of transportation. Over 100,000 residents lived there, suffering through sandstorms and drought for years.

With the support of the local government and enterprises, a “marketization, industrialization and public welfare-based” strategy for desert control has been explored, and the Kubuqi Desert is expected to turn into a green oasis from the “sea of death.”

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