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How China Plans To Grow—Sustainably

How is China managing its development at a time of a growing number of global environmental challenges? It’s systematically planning for them.

Protecting the environment and growing sustainably, are central pillars to China’s national agenda, said Zhuang Shaoqin, the Chief Planner for the country’s Ministry of National Resources, speaking at the Fortune Global Sustainability Forum in Yunnan, China on Thursday.

“We have to bear in mind sustainable development as the most fundamental principle,” said Zhuang, who is responsible for land space planning.

For that effort, he prioritizes environmental protection, and works to balance that with economic and social development, he said.

He noted that the focus on being green—identifying ecologically-friendly ways of living and production—is a shift from past policy, and that natural resources and the environment were largely neglected and not taken into account in the country’s economic theory.

Other principles Zhuang, who was involved in the drafting of Shanghai’s 2035 master development plan for the development of the city, takes into account in his planning duties include promoting innovation, openness and globalization—“globalization must be irreversible,” he said—and cultural protection.

With the Shanghai development plan, Zhuang explained the process involved drawing several ecological red lines which became a basis for planning—they included taking into account climate change and Shanghai’s vulnerability to typhoons. “It has to be resilient,” he said of the megacity’s development.

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