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In 1992 and 1993, China developed a National Agenda 21 - White Paper on China's Population, Environment and Development in the 21st Century. A Leading Group co-chaired by a deputy minister of the State Science and Technology Commission and a deputy minister of the State Planning Commission was established in August 1992 to organise and coordinate the formulation and implementation of China's Agenda 21, which was approved by the State Council in March 1994. In 1994, the State Council also issued a directive calling on government institutions at all levels, to consider China's Agenda 21 as an overarching strategic guideline for the formulation of economic and social development plans, and particularly to integrate it into the Five Year Plan (1996-2000), plans for the year 2010, and into day-to-day management.

Concurrently, government authorities under the State Council begun to engage in formulation of various sectoral Agenda 21s and plans of action, which were suited to their own area of specific requirement. For example, the Ministry of Forestry formulated the Forestry Action Plan for China's Agenda 21 which deals with sustainable development in forestry. The State Oceanic Administration drafted China's Ocean Agenda 21, China's National Environment Protection Agency formulated China's Agenda 21 for Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Water Resources drafted China's Agenda 21 on Water Resources, etc. Other government authorities have also formulated programmes of action according to their specific conditions and in line with the country's Ninth Five -Year Plan.
Beijing Municipality, Hubei Province, and Guizhou Province were selected at local levels to integrate, on an experimental basis, China's Agenda 21 into their economic and social development planning. As a result, specific suggestions were made from the perspective of laws, policies, arrangements, finance and operation mechanisms, etc. so that a sustainable development strategy which can be implemented at local levels can be developed.

In order to implement the sections in the Ninth Five-Year Plan and the Long-Term Objectives for the Year 2010 relating to environment protection, China formulated:

  • the Programme for Controlling the Total Amount of Main Pollutants during the Ninth Five-Year Plan , which states that, in order to meet the environmental goals set in the Ninth Five-Year Plan, strict regulations should be made for control of 12 main pollutants;
  • the China Trans-Century Green Project , which is specifically targeted on areas with critical pollution problems, river basins, and some fundamental environmental problems, and particularly focusses on the water pollution of three rivers (Huaihe River, Haihe River, and Liaohe River), three lakes (Taihu Lake, Dianchi Lake, and Chaohu Lake), and acid rain in southwestern, central, southern, and eastern China, as well as on air pollution in 20 key cities;
  • the Ninth Five-Year Plan and the Long-Term Objectives for the Year 2010 on Land and Water Conservation attaches great importance to the land and water conservation projects of the seven largest river valleys. In 33 key areas, land and water conservation projects of national level should be established to halt increasing land erosion, and efforts should be made to preserve an additional 650 thousand square kilometres of land by curbing soil erosion, by the year 2010.

Programmes and Projects  

In order to adequately manage the implementation of China's Agenda 21 at the macro level, the State Planning Commission and the State Science and Technology Commission, by the request of the State Council, gave priority to the incorporation of China's Agenda 21 into state planning. In July 1994, with the support of the UNDP, the Research and Training Programme on Incorporation of China's Agenda 21 into the National Economy and Social Development Plan was initiated. This programme, taking into consideration the overall development strategy and in view of the Ninth Five-Year Plan and Long-Term Objectives for the Year 2010, puts forth the following counter-measures and suggestions:

  • Actively promoting shifts in the economic development model and makes economic efficiency the core of economic activity. Establishing a sound production mechanism, by means of reforming the economic structure, in order to utilise resources, reduce energy consumption, and increase production efficiency. Promoting favourable prices, taxation, and preferential loan policies to be adopted in fields that are conducive to society and environment, such as pollution control, clean energy development, utilisation of waste material, and natural resources protection.
  • It emphasises the importance of science and technology, and re-invigorates the country through science and technology, thus laying a better foundation for sustainable development. It recognizes that great efforts should be made to integrate rational use of resources with environmental protection, and to develop expertise and products that can economise on resources and minimise pollution.
  • It calls for establishment and improvement of economic policies, regulations, and financial and taxation systems with the aim of bringing them into line with the sustainable development strategy. Great importance should be attached to research and formulation of measures and action plans concerning sustainable development, to its education, publicity, related personnel training, law enforcement, and supervision .
  • Compensatory mechanisms for natural resources exploitation and environment taxation policies should be formulated, so as to strengthen state administration of natural resources and their reasonable allocation, and improve the related utilisation system so that it can better utilise and protect resources. Pricing systems of resources should also be reformed so as to promote sustainable utilisation of resources, and implementation of related policies that are conducive to transforming waste into useful resources.
  • It calls for coordinated development of the regional economy and environment to bring regional advantage into full play so as to gradually reduce disparity regional development. Favourable policies conducive to narrowing the regional development gaps should be formulated, and attention should also be paid to promote the development of China's interior and western areas. Models of urbanisation should also be adjusted to suit China's national conditions.
  • It emphasises sustainable development education so as to enhance public consciousness and promote public participation. Full advantage should be taken of mass media such as radio, TV, and newspapers. In addition, various schools, institutions and universities should be mobilised to spread knowledge about sustainable development, especially among women and children. A national strategy should be developed to establish related mechanisms for public participation and to maximise the role of public participation in sustainable development.
  • It evaluates economic and social development policies from the perspective of sustainable development.
  • It calls for integrating the sustainable development strategy into national, local, and enterprise development plans. The sustainable development strategy should be embodied in industrial policies and regional planning. In the Report on China's National Economy and Social Development, the part of sustainable development was also expanded and amended so as to incorporate China's Agenda 21 into the planning programmes of government authorities at various levels in a phased and comprehensive way.

Major Groups, including women, children and the youth, minority nationalities and minority nationality districts, workers and labour unions, science and technology institutes, have been involved in the process of decision- making for sustainable development.

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