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Environment set as priority
By Qin Chuan & Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-09-28 01:30

Environmental protection and rebuilding will be moved up higher on the agenda, vice-premier Zeng Peiyan said Monday in Beijing.

Environmental protection has been one of the basic national policies in China and sustainable development a crucial strategy, he said during a ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) Sasakawa Environment Prize.

The annual prize is one of the most prestigious environmental awards in the world.

Two days of discussions on the themes of water, land, air and energy among experts from both home and abroad, including former prize winners, will follow the ceremony.

China will pursue a new industrialization model with advanced science and technology, good economic benefits, low resource consumption and little environmental pollution and that gives full play to the country's rich human resources, Zeng said.

The country will try to foster production and consumption patterns that are conducive to resource saving and pollution reduction, he said.

Zeng said a circular economy will be promoted in the country as part of an effort to build a society that is resource efficient and environmentally friendly.

Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration Xie Zhenhua, who was one of the two winners of last year's Sasakawa Environment Prize, said the prize has helped push for significant achievements in global environmental protection and sustainable development.

Winners of the prize include government officials, researchers and environmentalists from non-government organizations, who are from different places but all devote themselves to the sustainable development of the human society, he said.

"China will be and must be a model of sustainable development with the combination of economic development, social progress and environmental protection," said UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer during a press conference after the ceremony.

Besides, awareness of environmental protection, especially among youths in China, has greatly increased, he said.

Moreover, the capacity and technology used in environmental protection has improved greatly, he said.

Meanwhile, the topic of cleaner production is not only a vision and a theory but more and more integrated.

At Monday's ceremony former Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto was granted a special UNEP prize for environmental achievements.

Toepfer said the special prize was to mark the 20th anniversary of the Sasakawa Environment Prize.

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