By HOU LIQIANG
A recently approved Party document includes urgently needed policies to promote China's ecological progress, and the assessment and inspection mechanism in it will help ensure their effective implementation, experts said.
The Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, held from Oct 28 to 31, approved decisions on upholding and improving socialism with Chinese characteristics and advancing modernization of China's system and capacity for governance.
The document also deals with further upgrading the system for developing an ecological civilization and promoting the harmonious coexistence between humans and nature, exercising the strictest possible environment-related restraints and strengthening the related accountability system.
Calling the building of an ecological civilization "a strategy with lasting importance for sustainable development of the Chinese nation in the millennium to come", the document emphasized practicing the maxim of "lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets" and remaining committed to the basic State policy of conserving resources and protecting the environment.
Vowing to implement the strictest possible systems for environmental protection, fully establish a mechanism to promote highly efficient utilization of resources, improve institutions for ecological restoration and conservation and strengthen the accountability system, the document listed policies that need to be quickly rolled out or upgraded.
One is to speed up establishment of a national mechanism to coordinate the planning and utilization of the country's land by mapping out areas for protection, farmland and urban boundaries.
Li Ganjie, ecology and environment minister, said the decision defines the direction for ecological progress. The decision "is more explicit about systems that we most need to insist on and implement and those to establish and improve ecological progress and ecological and environmental protection. It provides the direction and fundamental principles to speed up improving the institutional system for ecological civilization, supported by modernization of institutions and capabilities for ecological and environmental governance," Li said.
The document also includes a series of measures mainly targeting local governments and their leading officials.
In addition to an assessment system to evaluate local governments' performance in promoting ecological civilization, the document promises a mechanism for auditing natural resources for leading officials who are being transferred or leaving office, a lifelong accountability system for environmental damage and carrying out central government ecology and environment inspections.
Chang Jiwen, deputy director of the Institute for Resources and Environment at the Development Research Center of the State Council, said these measures are key for effective implementation of systems included in the document.
"These systems are good. They still need effective implementation, however, to make them play their role, or they will become like decorations hung on the wall. This makes the conduct of central ecological and environmental inspections and the assessment important," Chang said.
He said it's also important to address the inadequacies of many local governments in coordinating economic development and ecological protection, which has hindered the country's ecological progress, to ensure effective implementation.
Li said the Ministry of Ecology and Environment will make efforts to enlarge public participation, enhance legislation and resort to financial instruments to smooth implementation of policies included in the document.