China releases top-level Guideline on Building a Modern Environmental Governance System

Amid concerns as to how ‘green’ China can remain under the enormous economic pressure caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic, on 3 March 2020, the General Office of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee and the State Council jointly released a Guideline on Building a Modern Environmental Governance System. Although it is not a direct response to the current concerns, but rather part of China’s long-term strategy of establishing an ‘Ecological Civilisation’, this national policy issued by the top leadership from both the Party and Government nevertheless reassured the world that China remains committed to its sustainable development and environmental protection agendas.

With the Guideline’s target of putting in place a sound environmental governance system by 2025, the top policy-makers put ever greater emphasis on fundamentally transforming China’s environmental governance system at all levels. To this end, the Guideline specifies the responsibilities of government agencies, corporate entities, civil society and the public, and emphasises the joint efforts to be made by all actors. Future efforts will focus on seven specific governance systems: (1) adjusting the responsibility system for government officials at all levels, (2) consolidating the responsibility system for corporate entities, (3) securing broader public support, (4) enhancing environmental monitoring and supervision, (5) stimulating the environmental industry, (6) setting up an environmental credit system, (7) improving laws, regulations and the policy system.

Following the Guideline’s publication, the National Development Reform Commission will be responsible for overall coordination and policy support and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment will take the lead in pushing forward implementation of the Guideline.

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Sino-German Environmental Partnership II

Project country
Political Partners
German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU); Ministry of Ecology and Environment of the People's Republic of China (MEE)
Implementation Partners
International Environmental Cooperation Office (IECO), MEE; China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED)
09/2017 – 10/2021

Since 2013, the Sino-German Environmental Partnership has supported bilateral environmental policy dialogue through the exchange of experience and advice on various specialist topics. Thereby, the project enhances institutional and individual capacities through training, the exchange of personnel, and knowledge transfer, to best prepare China for its future as a transformed “Ecological Civilization” and its path towards a “Beautiful China”. The partnership is overseen by the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) of the People’s Republic of China. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is responsible for implementing the Sino-German Environmental Partnership, which is funded through the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of BMU. In September 2017, the Sino-German Environmental Partnership entered into its second phase, which will continue until 2021. Through its activities, the Sino-German Environmental Partnership supports its Chinese project partners in transforming the existing environmental management system into a holistic environmental governance system which involves actors from science, industry and civil society. The planned activities lead to an intensification of the German-Chinese strategic environmental dialogue. An enhanced exchange such as this will continue to positively impact China’s proactive ownership of global environmental and climate change responsibilities. This will support the achievement of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda.