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.