BEIJING, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council, or China's cabinet, on Monday published a reform plan for promoting ecological progress in the country. Following is the full text:
INTEGRATED REFORM PLAN FOR PROMOTING ECOLOGICAL PROGRESS
This plan has been formulated for putting systematic and complete systems for improving the ecosystem in place more quickly; achieving faster ecological progress; and making the reform for promoting ecological progress more systemic, more holistic, and better coordinated.
I. A General Description
1. The thinking behind the reform
It is crucial to fully implement the guiding principles from the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the second, third, and fourth plenary sessions of the 18th CPC Central Committee; follow the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of the Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development; thoroughly put into practice the guiding principles from the major speeches of General SecretaryXi Jinping; act in accordance with the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council; adhere to the fundamental state policy of conserving resources and protecting the environment; and give high priority to resource conservation, environmental protection, and the restoration of nature. Based on the fundamental context of China being in the primary stage of socialism and in the particular characteristics new to China in the present phase,and in order to build a beautiful China, handle correctly the relationship between humankind and nature, and solve serious ecological and environmental problems,it is essential to safeguard China's ecological security, improve the environment, ensure that resources are used more efficiently, and step up efforts to promote the formation of a new pattern of modernization in which humankind develops in harmony with nature.
2. The ideas
The idea is to:
Respect, protect, and stay in tune with nature.Ecological conservation is vital not only to sustained, healthy economic development, but also to political and social progress, and must therefore be given a position of prominence and incorporated into every aspect and the whole process of economic, political, cultural, and social development.
Integrate development and conservation. It is necessary to remain committed to the strategy of treating development as being of the utmost importance to China. Development is good only when it is green, circular, and low-carbon. There should be the right balance between development and conservation.The intensity of development should be brought under control on the basis of functional zoning and spatial planning should be adjusted to ensure that development and conservation are coordinated and reinforce each other so we leave behind a comfortable place that future generations can call home with blue skies, green lands, and clear waters.
Foster an understanding that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets. Fresh air, clean water sources, beautiful rivers and mountains, fertile land, and biological diversity form an ecological environment that is essential to human survival. As development is a top priority for China, it is imperative to protect forests, grasslands, rivers, lakes, wetlands, seas, and other natural ecosystems.
Cultivate respect for the value of nature and natural capital. Natural ecosystems have value; the protection of nature is a process of increasing the value of nature and the value of natural capital, and means the protection and development of the productive forces. Protection efforts should, then, be adequately rewarded and come with economic returns.
Seek equilibriums in China's territorial space. To move forward with development, it is necessary to find the right balance between population, economy, resources, and the environment and ensure that the population, the industrial structure, and the economic growth of a region do not surpass its environmental capacity and the carrying capacity of its water and land resources.
See that mountains, waters, forests, and farmlands are a community of life. Based on the integrity and systemic nature of ecosystems and the way they work, it is necessary to take into consideration all the elements of the natural ecosystem - both hills and their surrounding areas, both above and under the ground, both land and sea, both upper and lower river basins -and work to protect them in their entirety, restore them systematically, and take a comprehensive approach to their governance in order to preserve ecological balance by strengthening the ability of ecosystems to circulate.
3. The principles
Ensuring that the reform moves in the right direction. China's market mechanisms need to be improved, and the government should make better use of its leadership and regulatory roles. Those in the business sector should bring their own initiative into play and exercise self-restraint. Social organizations and the general public should participate and play a supervising role in ecological conservation.
Maintaining the public nature of natural resource assets. New property rights systems should be created for natural resources. Ownership rights should be clarified. There should be a distinction between ownership rights and the authority to manage. Powers and regulatory responsibilities of the central and local governments should be divided more appropriately. Everyone should be entitled to benefit from state-owned natural resource assets.
Integrating environmental governance for rural and urban areas. Continued efforts should be made to strengthen urban environmental protection and industrial pollution prevention and control. The rural coverage of ecological and environmental protection efforts should be expanded. Effective systems and mechanisms for rural environmental governance should be established. The development of pollution prevention and control facilities should be stepped up in rural areas, and related funding should be increased.
Attaching equal importance to incentives and restraints. It is imperative to develop interest-related mechanisms for promoting green, circular, and low-carbon development, and at the same time practice strict prevention at the source of pollution, strict regulation over operations, strict compensation for environmental damage, and accountability for those responsible in order to effectively restrain all types of market entities and, step by step, make ecological conservation efforts more market-, law-, and procedure-based.
Combining China's own independent efforts with international cooperation. Strengthening ecological conservation and environmental protection is something China is doing of its own accord, though at the same time it needs to deepen exchange and practical cooperation with other countries, borrow from their advanced technology and their valuable experience in institution building, take an active part in global environmental governance, and assume and perform its international responsibilities as a large developing country.
Integrating piloting first with overall coordination. It is necessary, in accordance with the unified plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, to deal with the easier parts first, move forward step by step, and launch each reform when conditions are ripe to do so. On the basis of the fundamental direction laid out in this plan, encouragement should be given to local governments to explore and experiment boldly in light of their own local conditions.
4. The objectives
This reform is designed to establish a systematic and complete institutional framework composed of eight systems for promoting ecological progress with clearly defined property rights, diversified participation, and equal focus on incentives and restraints by 2020. It is also designed to modernize China's governance system and capacity for governance in the field of ecological progress and usher in a new era for socialist ecological progress. These eight systems include a system of property rights for natural resource assets, a system for the development and protection of territorial space, a spatial planning system, a system for regulating total consumption and comprehensive conservation of resources, a system for payment-based resource consumption and compensating conservation and protection efforts, the environmental governance system, the market system for environmental governance and ecological preservation, and the system for evaluating officials' ecological conservation performance and for holding those responsible for ecological damage to account.
A system of property rights for natural resource assets will be established, according to which ownership is clearly defined, powers and responsibilities are explicit, and regulation is effective, in order to ensure there are owners for natural resources and ownership is clear.
A system will be built on the basis of spatial planning for the development and protection of territorial space, drawing on regulation of its uses as the main approach, with a view to stopping the over-use of quality cropland and ecological space, ecological damage, and environmental pollution caused by disorderly, excessive, and scattered development.
A spatial planning system will be designed, with the main purpose of strengthening the spatial governance and improving its structure, which is nationally unified and better connected between different departments of government, and according to which management is divided between governments at multiple levels, in an effort to eliminate overlapping and conflicting spatial plans, the overlap and duplication of responsibilities between departments, and the issue of local authorities frequently changing their plans.
An effective, standardized,and strictly managed system that achieves complete coverage will be established for regulating total consumption and comprehensive conservation of resources, in order to address inefficiency and serious waste in resource consumption.
A system for payment-based resource consumption and compensating conservation and protection efforts will be established. The system will reflect market supply and demand, resource scarcity, the value of nature, and the need for intergenerational compensation, in order to address the problems of excessively low prices for natural resources and their products, the cost of production and development being lower than the social cost, and inadequate incentives for ecological conservation efforts.
An environmental governance system which is oriented toward improving the environment, and which incorporates unified regulation, strict law enforcement, and multi-party participation will be developed in an effort to deal with weak capacity for pollution prevention and control, overlapping regulatory functions between government departments, powers not being in accord with responsibilities, and the cost of law violations being too low.
A market system which allows economic levers to play a greater role in environmental governance and ecological conservation will be developed, with a view to addressing the slow development of market entities and market systems and low rates of public participation in ecological conservation.
An evaluation and accountability system will be developed to assess the performance of officials in ecological conservation and hold to account those responsible for ecological damage. This system will be designed to be fully reflective of resource consumption, environmental damage, and ecological benefits, and is to be built so as to correct the shortcomings in performance evaluations, narrow the gaps in responsibility systems, and improve poor accountability for ecological damage.