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Address at the 16th World Water Congress
  2017-06-13 12:11  

Developing A Modern Water Management System by Strengthening Policy Innovation

—Address at the 16th World Water Congress

H.E. Dr. LU Guihua, Vice Minister of Water Resources, P. R. China

 (May 29, 2017  Cancun)


Esteemed President Lavarde, Director General Roberto,

Excellencies, Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It’s a great pleasure for me to attend the Sixteenth World Water Congress in this beautiful coastal city of Cancun. I’m glad to share China’s experiences and discuss strategies on the subject of “Bridging Science and Policy” with colleagues from all over the world. First of all, on behalf of the Ministry of Water Resources of China, I would like to extend my congratulations on the grand opening of the Congress!

Water is the source of life. It is also essential for production and ecology. In today’s world, with population and economy grow continuously, and the impact of climate change intensifying, problems like water shortage, ecological damage and water pollution have become increasingly prominent, posing a serious threat to global sustainable development. China has a special water regime, featuring imbalance between water demand and supply, and limited water environment capacity. So water challenges in China have become a constraint on its socio-economic development.

The Chinese government attaches great importance to the water sector. The guidelines are put forward for water governance, that is, “to give priority to saving water, achieve harmony between development and water conservation, carry out systematic governance, and give full play to both government and market’s roles”. We have implemented the strictest water resources management system, and promoted the shaping of a water-conserving society.

Currently, the idea of innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared development has been put forward. Seeing a new normal in its socio-economic growth, China is promoting the “supply-side structural reform”. Higher requirements on water security have been set to meet the targets of the reform and the upgrading of economic structure. Confronted with grave water challenges, the Chinese government has strengthened innovation, upgraded its water governance approach, leveraged its institutional advantages, and promoted green and low-carbon development, in order to ensure the sustainable use of water resources.

First, we put people first and give priority to ecological protection, so as to improve our public services. It is our mission to improve the welfare and promote people’s all-round development. Our work in the water sector aims to guarantee and promote the livelihood of all our people. Treasuring clear water and green mountains, we choose the path of prioritizing ecological and green development.

The Chinese government has initiated an action plan on water pollution control, which requires tightened oversight on water function zones, and joint governance of both regional and river basin level. In a coordinated manner, we are promoting water source conservation, water and soil conservation, and water shoreline control. A comprehensive governance for the connectivity of rivers and lakes is being implemented. Along the rivers and by the lakes, we build green ecological “corridors” consisting of trees and plants.

With a national groundwater monitoring system, we strictly enforce the control of both the total amount of water use and water table, while intensifying groundwater pollution control. Campaigns are carried out to develop water eco-civilization, and to build sponge cities with water accumulation, permeation and purification. We aim to construct beautiful countryside with unimpeded rivers, clear water, green shores and picturesque sceneries, so that all people can benefit from the development of the water sector.

Second, the dual control of total amount and intensity of water consumption is being implemented to promote the transformation of water use modes and patterns. A water use indication system covering provincial, city and county levels is applied to control water use efficiency. The water carrying capacity is taken as a constraint for regional development, urban construction and industrial layout. Strict appraisal procedures are required for major planning and construction of water projects, and water permit management is also strengthened. We vigorously promote the development of a water-conserving society, advocated reasonable and orderly use of surface water, controlled use of groundwater, and promoted active use of non-conventional water sources. We coordinated basin and regional water deployment, and strengthened integrated water management. Through the dual control on the amount and intensity of water use, we further strengthened regulations to promote the transformation of water use modes. This will help elevate the quality and efficiency of the economic growth, so as to create an overall framework and development pattern conducive to the water conservation and protection.

Third, we strive to implement a national water-saving action plan and develop a water-saving society. The action plan includes ten water conservation initiatives in all sectors including industry, agriculture and living. We are accelerating the construction of major water saving and supply projects, and speeding up renovation of irrigated areas. We developed regional high-efficiency water-saving irrigation projects, and promoted technological upgrading of water-intensive industries and water supply pipelines. Efforts are made to increase the use of rain-floods and non-conventional water resources such as seawater, reused water, mine water and brackish water. Rewards are being given for actions in promoting water efficiency and water-saving contract system. In this way, we hope to promote an environment where everyone cherishes and saves water.

Fourth, emphasis is placed on both the government and the market to improve water governance. China is now implementing the “River Chief System”. It features a four-tier administrative accountability mechanism for rivers and lakes. It centers on the responsibilities of the local chiefs in administration or party committees, and focuses on the water conservation, pollutant control and ecological restoration. Water management is an important criterion taken into the overall evaluation system for the local development.

Efforts have been stepped up on supervision and assessment. We have increased fiscal input and financial support in the water sector, and encourage private capitals into water projects and water protection. The ladder-like water pricing method is adopted for urban residents, while a progressive pricing system for non-household water use is implemented nationwide. We are pushing forward the reform of agricultural water pricing, and have set up rewarding system for water saving behaviors. Meanwhile, water right transfer mechanism is promoted to foster a healthy water market.

Fifth, we are intensifying scientific study and improving legal framework to speed up the development of a modern water management system. Aiming to build a better research platform, we are dedicated to pushing forward joint research and result promotion. Focus is cast on major scientific and technological projects that are vital to the reforms and development in the water sector. We vigorously promote modern water management approach based on the idea of “Internet Plus”. In order to do this, we integrate IT into water resource monitoring, high-efficiency irrigation, water ecological development, and public water services. In this way, the traditional “digital water management” can evolve towards “smart water management”. It will then further realize the modernization in the water sector.

Water management by the law is being stressed. We are trying to improve the system of water-related laws and regulations, while formulating standards on water consumption, pollutant emission and environmental quality.

Ladies and gentlemen!

It is the common aspiration and goal of the entire human race to strengthen water management, improve water environment, and guarantee water security. The Ministry of Water Resources of China is willing to conduct extensive exchanges and in-depth cooperation with relevant departments of all countries and international organizations, so as to achieve sustainable development and enhance people’s well-being all around the globe.

Finally, I would like to wish this Congress a complete success!