Zones show progress may not harm environment
Eighteen development zones and scenery spots across the country will be used as examples of how to meet both environmental and development needs.
Experience in the zones shows that economic development and environmental protection can be achieved at the same time, officials said yesterday in Haikou, capital of South China's Hainan Province.
Vice-Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration Wang Yuqing called on environmental authorities to continue their efforts to promote national ISO14000 certified demonstration areas.
The ISO14000 series of standards was set up by ISO (International Organization of Standardization) in 1996 to help enterprises and organizations establish and improve their environmental management systems. China introduced the standards immediately.
In 1999, the State Environmental Protection Administration, supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Construction and the then Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation, started to approve the building of national ISO14000 demonstration areas.
To date, nine economic development zones, five high-tech development zones, and four scenery spots have been approved as national demonstration areas.
During the two-day forum, which opened yesterday, Wang said building the areas may help introduce internationally advanced environment management ideas while pushing sustained development of regional economies.
According to Yin Gai, head of the science, technology and standards department of the administration, the 14 economic and high-tech development zones approved as demonstration areas achieved a total GDP of 281.8 billion yuan (US$34 billion) last year.
The GDP in such zones has been increasing by an average of 20 per cent in the past three years. Such growth is far more rapid than normal local levels.
In some zones, rapid growth is gained at the cost of very low consumption of energy.
For example, the Wuxi high-tech zone, in East China's Jiangsu Province, has produced one eighth of the Wuxi's economic output in the past three years.
In the meantime, its electricity consumption was only one-20th of city's total.
At the same time, Yin said the environment in those areas has improved continuously.
For example, the Beijing economic and technological development zone has invested 200 million yuan (US$24 million) to clean the Liangshui River which runs through it, Yin said.
The move not only meets the requirements of ISO14000 certification, but also attracts many investors. The improvement of the local environment leads to a win-win situation between the environment and the economy.
ISO14000 standards have gained popularity among China's development zones.
According to Zhang Fenghai, an official with the Ministry of Science and Technology, 90 per cent of the 53 national high-tech zones in China will get the ISO14000 certificates by the end of this year.
Sixteen of the high-tech zones have applied to develop themselves into national ISO14000 demonstration areas.
Since ISO14000 was introduced into China, more than 5,000 companies and organizations have received ISO14000 certifications.