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Speech at Roundtable Meeting on Strategy of Coping with Extreme Weather in China
  2011-04-26 10:52  


Coping with global climate change by enhancing water security capacity

---Speech at High-Level Roundtable Meeting on Strategy of Coping with Extreme Weather in China

Chen Lei

Minister of Ministry of Water Resources

April 22, 2011


Respected Vice President Zhang Meiying, President Wang Shucheng, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,


I am very pleased to join the High-level Round Table Meeting on Strategy of Coping with Extreme Weather held by China Committee of Global Water Partnership, together with Asian Development Bank and Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters. First of all, on behalf of Ministry of Water Resources, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to the meeting and heartfelt thanks to the participants from organizations of the United Nation, international organizations and financial institutes as well as government agencies from different countries and people of all circles. 


Climate change has a deep impact on existence and development of human being, and become the major challenge faced by all countries in the world. China is densely populated and fast developed developing country. Water is insufficient comparing to large population. Water is unevenly distributed in time and space. The basic condition of the country is featured as unmatched water resources capacity with the production pattern. In recent years, affected by global climate change, a tendency of increasing extreme weather occurs in China. Sudden, unusual and unexpected flood and drought disasters happen frequently. Besides, sudden, frequent and simultaneous strong rainstorm, extreme hot weather and drought and super typhoon have been increased. A tendency of more water in the south and less in the north has been formed. The actual-observed runoff of major rivers has been reduced. In the north, water shortage scarcity is getting worse as drought affected areas in major agricultural areas are expanding along with moving up of spring weather, and pests appearing more frequent and earlier than before, resulting in an unstable agricultural production.


A series ecological problems have come out, such as shrinking of glacier and frozen earth, drying up of many rivers in northern part of China, withering or disappearing of some lakes, decrease of reservoir water storage, loss of functions of some wetlands, increasing pollution in water bodies; coastal erosion caused by sea level rise, salt water intrusion, saline and alkaline of farmland, sea water intrusion in estuary area etc. Therefore, in order to cope with extreme weather, it is crucial for China concentrating on flood and drought disaster prevention, safeguarding water safety and realization of sustainable water resources utilization, in the process of building up a well-off society in an all round way and promotion and speeding up of modernization.


Chinese Government attaches high importance to the issue of global climate change and regards resource conservation and environment protection as the basic national policy. In order to promote harmony between economic and social development with population, resources and environment, measures of promoting recycled economy, extending Low carbon economic, development of hydropower, solar energy, wind power and other renewable energies have been adopted.


Before the UN Copenhagen climate change conference 2009, Chinese Government made a commitment, i.e. comparing to that in 2005, in 2020 the emission of carbon dioxide per GDP will be 40%-45% lower; the percentage of non-fossil energy consumption in disposable energy will be 15%; forest area increases 40 million hectare; and reserve of forest increase 1.3 billion cubic meters.


In the outline of Chinese 12th Five-Year Plan, specific requirement is made to speed up transformation of economic development pattern. Water resources are obviously the key area under great impact of global climate change. Water infrastructure construction can be a base for coping with climate change, in particularly extreme weather events. The No.1 central document makes the Decision of Speeding up Water Development and Reform, gives priority to water as the basic infrastructure of the country and highlights the role of disaster prevention and reduction in coping with climate change, which puts increasing emphasis on water safety for national security.


In the period of 12th Five-Year Plan, we will insist on the principle of putting emphasis on both reduction and adaptation, integration of development and conservation, construction and management, scientific innovation and new system creation, government guidance and public participation, effective implementation of policies of the Central Government, strengthening basic water infrastructures and flood control and drought relief system, water resources conservation, protection and management system, enhancing capacity of emergency management to flood and drought, furthering up campaign of water development and reform, so as to upgrade capacity of coping with climate change and provide guarantee for a long-term, stable and fast economic development and realization of well-off society in China.


First, improvement of flood prevention system will be highlighted. Considering the outstanding problems raised by severe flood and drought in recent years, priority will be given to harness of medium and small rivers and major tributaries of big rivers, strengthening of small hazard reservoirs, prevention of mountain flood, repair of aged water gates, so as to lower the annual average direct economic loss caused by flood disasters to less than 0.7% in the total GDP in the 12th Five-Year Plan period. 


Second, construction of farmland infrastructures will be consolidated. We shall complete counterpart facility construction of backbone scheme and water conservation rehabilitation of more than 70% large irrigation districts and 50% key medium irrigation districts; realize a net increase of effected irrigated area of about 2.6 million hectare; newly increase of 3.3 million hectare of high efficient water-saving irrigated area; further up construction of small waterworks on farmland in the selected counties, build “five small water projects” of cellar, pond, dam, pump and canal, put emphasis on end canal system construction in water saving rehabilitation and completion of on-farm counterpart facilities of irrigation district.


Third, approach of water-saving society establishment will be promoted. We will regard the implementation of most strict water management system as a strategic measure for the establishment of water-saving society. We will draw “three red lines” for controlling water development and use, water use efficiency and pollution bearing capacity of water function zones. We shall improve the implementation of following measures, such as charging system for water resources utilization, water resources assessment, water abstraction permit system and specifying responsibility of water resources management and performance evaluation. Water use per 10,000 yuan national GDP will be lower than 140 cubic meters; water use per 10,000 yuan of industrial added value will be lower than 80 cubic meters; water use coefficient of irrigation will increase to 0.53.


Fourth, water supply capacity will be enhanced. We shall further up construction of drinking water safety project and provide safe drinking water to all rural residents. South-North Water Diversion project will be accelerated, for building a layout of strategic water resources allocation as “three vertical and four horizontal river systems, water transferring from south to north and balancing water needs of east and west”, so as to use floodwater filling up the shortage in the dry season, use clean water to dilute pollution and finally enhance the overall level of water resources allocation. Advanced technologies for sea water desalination, use of recycled water and rainwater storage will be encouraged. The newly increased water supply capacity will reach to about 40 billion cubic meters; annual average direct economic loss caused by drought disaster in the percentage of GDP in the same period should be lower than 1.1% .


Fifth, soil and water conservation and ecosystem protection shall be strengthened. We shall construct national soil and water conservation project; control erosion in main protection area and mountain disaster affected areas; control of slope farmland cultivation and restoration of ecological fragile river system and areas. We shall accelerate hydraulic energy development under the condition of protecting ecology and farmers’ interests; promote hydropower development in rural areas: newly increased installed capacity of hydropower in rural areas in the next five years will be 5 million kilowatt; newly increase annual power generation will be 2.15 billion kilowatt-hours; annual reduction of carbon oxygen will be 18 million tons.


Sixth, strategic reserve of water resources shall be strengthened. Emergency plan for securing water safety in particular period should be worked out in line with local condition by adopting multiple measures for emergency water supply. In water deficiency river basins like Haihe and Liaohe where more groundwater are used, total groundwater excavation will be under strict control; deeper aquifer exploitation will be gradually banned; water diversion through South-North Water Diversion Project will replenish abstraction of groundwater for recovering aquifer and increasing strategic reserve. In Northwest regions, the focuses are places on protection and conservation of water sources, construction of backbone water structures for enhancing water storage capacity in river basins, relief measures for encountering with drought disaster. In water rich area of southwest, the focuses are placed on water sources and counterpart facility construction, improvement of water regulation in river basin, provision of emergency water source in extreme drought condition by fully use of groundwater storage.


Seventh, capacity of dealing with emergency during flood and drought will be further enhanced. Non-structural measures of flood control shall be strengthened by consolidating administrative leader responsible system, improving hydrologic monitoring system and flood control commanding system, setting up an emergency system that covers all area and regions including townships and villages and all population, building rescue teams combined by professionals and participation of public for flood control and drought relief; building up material reserve for flood control and drought relief; and enhancing emergency management level.   


Eighth, international cooperation and exchange should be promoted. China has actively participated international cooperation and exchange in the field of scientific studies on coping with climate change. Since 1990, China has participated in inter-governmental conference and workshops of IPCC. Departments and institutions of the Ministry of Water Resources implemented the UNDP project of Studies on impact of climate change on China and vulnerability assessment; project of study on climate change impact on water resources in China together with United Nations Children's Fundand United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. At the same time, various types of exchange and cooperation have been conducted with scientific and research institutions of U.K., Canada, Switzerland and other countries. International Center on Small Hydropower has initiated the campaign of “lighting Africa” with other organization, a clean energy development mechanism with small hydropower and cooperation project in terms of design of small hydropower plants and export of machinery and equipment, aiming at helping developing countries in African to develop clean energy and slow down the pace of climate change. In the future, we shall continue international cooperation and exchange with both governments and private sector, learn advanced experiences and good practices from different countries, and make effort to alleviate impact of climate change on China’s water resources.   


Ladies and gentlemen, it is our common obligation to guarantee water safety by means of taking effective measure for coping with extreme weather and scientifically prevent flood and drought disasters. China is willing to strengthen cooperation and exchange with international organizations and countries all over the world, for meeting with challenges brought by climate change, make greater contribution to the realization of sustainable water resources utilization, long-term, fast and stable economic development, and harmonized and stabled society.  


Finally, I wish the conference a great success. Thank you.