Research highlights from the GGKP’s Sixth Annual Conference – Q&A with Christina Wong

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Visiting Scholar, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of Sciences
16 November 2018

On 27-28 November 2018, the GGKP's Sixth Annual Conference was held in conjunction with the OECD's 2018 Green Growth and Sustainable Development Forum (GGSD) on the theme of "Inclusive solutions for the green transition: Competitiveness, jobs/skills and social dimensions" in Paris, France.   

Dr. Christina Wong presented her paper 'The Social and Environmental Dimensions of China’s Spatial Planning System' at the conference on 28 November in session B: 'Policies for Regional Resilience and Distributional Impacts'. Dr. Wong is a United States Fulbright Senior Scholar at the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

1) Briefly describe the topic and conclusion of your research. 
My research is on evaluating the key reforms associated with China’s governance strategy on creating an Ecological Civilization. My work is primarily focused on analyzing China’s spatial planning system, which is a core macro-level policy in China. China is the first major economy to attempt to implement the concept of “ecological carrying capacities” to coordinate development to secure vital ecosystem services for national security.
The main conclusion is that China is seeing progress on green growth when its institutions develop coupled social-ecological programs aimed at achieving: (1) sustainability, (2) competitiveness, and (3) poverty alleviation. However obtaining the necessary political cooperation to coordinate development and ecological protection across China remains daunting. Overall development rates continue to outpace ambitious policy prescriptions designed to reverse negative ecological trends.
2) What are the key policy messages/implications? 
China has been experimenting for decades with large-scale conservation programs. Also it is a leader in implementing renewable energy technologies. Chinese institutions are testing innovative and ambitious policies on green growth, such as gross ecosystem product accounting, ecological compensation, circular economy, ecological redlines, etc.  China’s joint programs on ecosystem restoration, employment, infrastructure, health services, and education are showing promising results for breaking the vicious cycle of ecological degradation and poverty. China’s policies on green growth are important for informing global efforts on moving sustainability from theory to practice.
3) Which session are you interested in attending at the at the conference and why?
I am interested in attending Session 3, “Social impacts of the green transition”, since the key governance challenge for advancing sustainability is formulating inclusive green polices. I am interested in learning about the experiences of other countries on trying to practically balance the economic, social, and environmental pillars of sustainable development at scale.
4) What are the next steps for your research?
The next step of my research is to generate a useful synthesis on the types of institutional reforms for helping countries transition towards inclusive green growth for sustainability. I am drawing from the lessons learned in China on creating an Ecological Civilization. The Ecological Civilization is not simply a philosophical vision of social development. Policymakers are pursuing a new governance strategy consisting of major reforms across all aspects of society to better balance development, poverty alleviation, and ecological protection.
5) What are the opportunities for collaboration around this issue?
We need to collaborate on trying to identify scalable policies on green growth that link conservation, pollution reduction, poverty alleviation, employment, health, and urbanization. The traditional approach has been to fragment different environmental, social, and economic issues. Chinese policymakers are attempting to implement a series of comprehensive policies to address its environmental crisis and global climate change to achieve rapid progress on: ecological protection, pollution control, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emission reductions, and recycling. I believe lessons learned from China can help efforts in both developed and developing nations. China is the first major economy to attempt to shift its national development model to green growth led by senior political leaders and supported by significant financial investments. We need to collaborate across countries and sectors to identify key opportunities for overcoming common challenges to green growth.



The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the GGKP or its Partners.