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International High-Level Energy Conservation & Environmental Protection Industries Promotion Conference in Central and Western Regions Convened in Lanzhou

On January 19th, 2014, the International High-Level Energy Conservation & Environmental Protection Industries Promotion Conference in Central and Western Regions, co-hosted by International Ecological Economy Promotion Association (IEEPA) and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), was convened in the Crown Plaza Hotel in Lanzhou, Gansu province.

Keynote speeches were delivered by He Keng, vice chairman of Finance and Economic Committee of the National People¡¯s Congress and chief economic adviser of IEEPA Consultative Council; Jiang Minglin, counselor of the State Council and former vice director of the Councilor Office of the State Council; Wang Yuqing, vice director of Committee of Population, Resources and Environment; Hou Yunchun, former vice director of Development Research Center of the State Council; Adegboyega AJANI, programme officer of UNIDO to China.

Recent years have seen rapid development of energy conservation and environmental protection industries in the eastern region of China which accounts for 60% of total production value in China. The central and western regions, however, are left behind due to limitations in economic base, resources and factors of production. With the enhanced support from the central government to the central and western regions in the new national strategy coupled with the driving force from economic transition and industrial upgrading and advantages in land resources and labor cost, the energy conservation and environmental protection industry in these areas possesses a promising future. 

He Keng pointed out that with excellent opportunities created by the building of land Silk Road and urbanization, the central and western regions are endowed with huge potential for further development. In the National Conference on Rural Work, targets were set to realize urbanization for the 100 million population in central and western regions. These arrangements bring to the central and western regions rare opportunities for better and faster development.

Hou Yunchun said in his speech that currently we were faced with a severe situation in environmental protection with major problems in three aspects: excess capacity resulting in huge waste of resources; garbage besieging cities with environmental disasters; severe air pollution requiring immediate actions. Though scarcely populated with seemingly large environment capacity, the central and western regions still lack reasons for optimism in the development of energy conservation and environmental protection industry. Therefore, the government should create ideal conditions with market playing the decisive role in resource allocation. That is to say, various resources should be arranged properly without undue interference from the government. All enterprises, local or foreign, state-owned or privately-owned, should be given equal treatment with market regulation dominating the resource allocation of energy conservation and environmental protection. What¡¯s more, financial support should be enhanced in this regard for better allocation and innovation in the financial field so that a proper and fully competitive pattern could be established with new financial products to support further advancement of energy conservation and environmental protection industries. Hou also pointed out that the government should also play its role properly. Firstly the standards should be set stricter than national standards. Especially in the industry transfer, industries about to be eliminated in the eastern and coastal regions should not be transferred to the central and western regions without full investigation. With a higher technological level, pillar industries in these areas can be selected and developed at a higher starting point with stricter standards. In this regard we should be visionary with insights for the long run. Secondly, market supervision should be strengthened by the government. For those that dissatisfy emission standards, rectification with time limit or even shutting down should be carried out with equal treatment for all enterprises. Thirdly, intellectual property right protection should be enhanced with campaigns against counterfeit and inferior goods. New techniques and patents from independent research and development of enterprises should be protected by the government, without which enthusiasm from enterprises could not be inspired. Fourthly, the government should provide necessary support for the energy conservation and environment protection industry to attract more enterprises entering this sector.

Guan Ruijie, counsel of Department of Rural Economy & Management Administration of Ministry of Agriculture, emphasized on the importance of this conference. The energy conservation and environment protection industry in the central and western regions face rare opportunities, great potential as well as sever challenges. On the one hand, The No. 1 central document from the central government brings regulations and institutional breakthrough, creating a favorable environment for the development of energy conservation and environment protection industries and agro-environmental protection. On the other hand, severe challenges lie in sectors such as agricultural product quality, food safety, resourceful treatment of breeding industry, waste disposal, water pollution and burning of straw, which are also obstacles in energy conservation and environmental protection of agriculture. Meanwhile, there is also huge potential. Currently energy conservation and environmental protection industries cover just 2% of China¡¯s GDP, which would be over 5% in some developed countries. The production value in central and western regions is even much less than that in the eastern region of China, which guarantees considerable potential in the future of this industry.

Xia Guang, director of Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy of Ministry of Environmental Protection, provided three suggestions: first, promote the level of cooperation nationally and internationally to enhance the overall strength of the industry with dominance of the market; second, since the industrial base of central and western regions is relatively weak, industrial upgrading is necessary to strengthen innovation capability of energy conservation and environment protection industry in these areas. Third, enterprises should make full use of encouraging policies for energy conservation and environment protection industry and the government should also provide detailed explanations and guidance.

Ni Xiaojing, counselor of Department of European Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, shared the case of eco-city of Hammarby of Sweden and environmental issues with related solutions in

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