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Nation well on way to greener future
China Daily    2021-08-09 14:06  


Volunteers clean a lake at the Luoshui wetland in Deqing, Huzhou city, Zhejiang province, on April 21. WANG ZHENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Increased emphasis placed on ecological civilization

Despite having only a vague understanding of ecological civilization nine years ago, Luo Yi had no hesitation in accepting a part-time job as a Chinese-English translator at a forum in the United States dedicated to the concept.

At the time, Luo, a freshman majoring in history and environment at Claremont McKenna College in California, simply wanted to make some money. "I earned a lot from the forum," she said.

However, the 28-year-old said she never expected to return to college with dozens of sheets of paper filled with notes after being impressed by the speeches given by many of the participants at the two-day International Forum of Ecological Civilization.

Students at the college were busy preparing for the semester exam, but despite this, Luo managed to find time to sort through her notes before taking the test.

Since then, she has participated in the annual forum every year, apart from 2018. While studying in the US, she also occasionally joined scholars on trips to China to explore ecological civilization.

After graduating with a master's in social sciences from the University of Chicago in 2016, Luo decided to put herself at the forefront of exploring ecological civilization in China by establishing Laotu, a social enterprise.

"China offers more hope in creating an ecological civilization. That is why I returned," she said.

Luo used to think that ecological civilization was similar to sustainable development. However, after years of immersing herself in the concept, she changed her opinion.

"There is no need to give ecological civilization numerous definitions. It will be good enough if we can reflect on the development mindset behind industrial civilization," she said.

One of the projects launched by Laotu aims to help residents in Wolong National Nature Reserve, Sichuan province, return to their traditional way of farming, which involves using small amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and striking a balance between humans and nature.

"We want to tell them that they don't have to change their traditional methods," she said.

Luo Yi, third right, works with her team at Wolong National Nature Reserve, Sichuan province, on helping local residents return to their traditional way of farming. Photo provided to China Daily

Luo said that in addition to the high degree of importance the Chinese government attaches to ecological civilization, the knowledge to be found in the nation's traditional farming culture is a factor fueling her enthusiasm for the country's ecological development.

She has the support of environmentalist and philosopher John Cobb, 96, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, who was one of the speakers to impress Luo at the US forum in 2012.

Cobb said that of the countries to which the world looks for leadership in ecological civilization, "China is the only one that has announced ecological civilization as its goal".

He added that he believes an ecological civilization can best be modeled in small rural towns. This does not mean such towns will necessarily lead ecological development, but they can serve as a step toward moving in that direction.

"The Chinese government is actively working to keep villages healthy and attractive. That is hopeful," he said.

Wang Zhihe, director of the California-based Institute for Postmodern Development of China, a US think tank and nonprofit organization, said Cobb is not the only overseas thinker to have high expectations for ecological development in China.

"China has a long tradition of emphasizing the harmony of nature and humanity, which has enabled Chinese civilization to survive for thousands of years," Wang said.

The thousands of traditional villages and hundreds of millions of farmers who continue with small-scale intensive farming inspire confidence in China's ecological development, he said, adding that this "will not only ensure self-sufficiency in food, but also socio-political and economic stability".

He added that China's political system, which "is able to mobilize massive social forces to cope with major crises such as the ecological one", and the determination of the country's central authorities could provide strong impetus for its ecological development.

Ecological civilization was included in the Communist Party of China's Constitution in 2012 and in the nation's Constitution in 2018.

Source: China Daily