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Relationship Between Urban Development and Environmental Protection Yang Chongguang: Research Fellow of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Vice President of China Society of Urban Economy

Date: Aug 10, 2010      Source: IEEPA      

Environmental protection serves as foundation for China to push forward urban modernization, there are four questions and three suggestions to be considered, the details are shown as following:

1. Environmental protection is the weakest link for urban modernization

Economic development, social construction and life improvement are closely linked to modernization, while urban modernization is the key point to achieve national modernization. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, especially after the reform and opening-up, China is witnessing fast economic development, evident social progress, and rapid development to modernization. Along with the quick growth of GDP, evident increase of economic aggregate and per capita economic magnitude, our infrastructure, housing construction, daily life and cultural education have made grand progress. That is to say, our cities have walked up to modernization, some of which have approached or kept pace with the level of moderately developed countries, and some even reached that of developed countries. However, our environmental protection and ecological construction are lag behind in the process of urban development, and even no progress in some respects, namely, our economic development and social progress are, to some extent, at the expense of environment. In this way, our environment was not only the weakest link in the modernization construction, but brought complaint among common public. Facts show that: due to less attention paid to environmental construction,ecological construction, we suffered lots of natural and man-made disasters, which brought severe damage to people's lives and properties. Therefore, we must pay more attention to the question. Data show that we have constantly approached to some advanced countries and regions in terms of economic development, social progress and cultural development. However, as for environmental construction, there are increasing gap with them. We can conclude from the Shanghai World Expo: Cities in many countries paid more attention to environmental and ecological construction, made efforts to acquire maximum benefits with less resources, bring more benefits to people. We can also see that: some cities in the globe, despite few population, have done a good job in the regard of garbage disposal and sewage treatment. In consideration of widening gap between us and developed countries in terms of environmental governance and ecological construction, we must attach importance to this question and earnestly cope with it in the process of pushing forward urban modernization.

2. Environmental problems have affected the development of urban modernization.

Despite China's goal to reach the level of moderately developed countries by 2050, and some cities have already reached that in terms of per capita DGP and income, the ecological and environmental problems remained increasingly severe. Numerous data show that our atmosphere,water resources,solid waste are facing serious problem: heaps of solid waste in suburban area, insufficient land for filling garbage in many cities, severe problem for garbage-filled land, drought,flood, groundwater recession and so on, which are the result from unsuitable environment governance and ecological construction. Aside from the problems in the physical environment, we are also facing lots of problems in financial and ecological environment. As we all know, urban development shall play a positive role in increasing dwellers security, and making their life safe and comfortable. However, such security are reducing gradually due to less attention and construction in physical,financial environments. Such problems are not only linked to populous immigration in the course of urbanization, but linked to governmental strategy, policy, guideline, as well as economic structure. As a result, we shall take comprehensive measures to accelerate environmental governance and carry out key ecological construction.

3. Environmental governance and ecological construction as an important strategy for urban modernization shall be strictly executed.

We shall shift from complete concern on the speed of urban development, to constructing our cities in a more scientific way, from size expansion to structural adjustment; at the same time, we shall also change our ideas from GDP-oriented to humanity first, whose reasons are as following: the starting point of GDP growth is to solve the employment problem, and our structural adjustment, scientific arrangement, economic structure, social structure are also conducive to solving the employment problem, and further to increasing people's income.

4. We shall convert traditional life style to a low carbon one

We shall have comprehensive understanding on our life, and further enrich it, which made it necessary for us to convert the mode of economic growth, not only production mode, but life style. To a certain degree, life style plays a decisive role in constructing modernization, therefore, humanity-oriented modernization means life-style modernization, which refers to not only human behavior or daily life, but whole environment including ecological environment and social environment and so on. In the course of urbanization and modernization, we shall make common efforts to implement interaction between human being and environment. On the one hand, the environment has an impact on people's health, life and development; on the other hand, people's activities have also impact on the environment, which required everybody's efforts and construction. In the course of economic development, humanity as the core force for environmental protection and ecological construction, shall play an active rather than passive role in environmental construction.

At present, numerous cities are preparing for the 12th five-year plan, and environmental protection and ecological construction shall also be considered, and be viewed as an important part therein. Here are some proposals for reference, shown as following:

(1) Environmental and ecological construction are embodied in each aspect and field in the course of urban development. We shall make sufficient arrangement to consider them in each field during the 12th five-year plan period, especially in economic development and social progress.

(2) We shall construct environmental protection and ecological projects with strategic significance. At the same time, we shall also enhance the environmental protection and administration in our daily life, including certain work administration.

(3) We shall carry out urban environmental protection and ecological construction by mobilizing enterprises and general publics, especially for middle or small-sized enterprises. From the perspective of practice, some enterprises served as environmental destroyer or polluter in urban construction. Therefore, we shall strengthen administration, make guidance, and exert their initiative on environment protection.

(4) We shall enhance people's environmental consciousness, make them have a good habit of life, and strive for acting as pioneers or models in the regard of environmental protection. Only the government, enterprises and general public made joint efforts to enhance environmental consciousness, attached importance to environmental construction and ecological protection, can our cities make development in a faster way, conform to economic development, social progress and cultural construction, and speed up the modernization process.

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