Innovative Solutions for Forest Conservation in Western China: Carbon Sequestration, Payment for Environmental Services, and Community Empowerment

April 26, 2010 // 9:00am11:00am

Lü Zhi, Sun Shan, & Li Shengzhi: Shan Shui Conservation Center
Kerstin Canby: Forest Trends

CEF has long focused on the increasingly innovative activities of international and Chinese environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to promote new networks for solving China's challenging environmental and energy challenges. Chinese green NGOs represent China's largest civil society sector. There are an estimated 3,500 green NGOs in China, but many—particularly the approximately 500 smaller grassroots groups—struggle with funding and capacity challenges. These NGOs also face the challenge of how to work with the government and the corporations and how to engage China's vastly different populations—from the affluent urbanites to poor rural communities—in vital environmental work. International NGOs long have played a vital role as the "glue" that brings together new kinds of policy partnerships to solve the environmental challenges facing China.

At this April 26th CEF meeting, we have the unique opportunity to gain insights into how small Chinese conservation NGO Shan Shui is rising to the operation challenges in China to promote innovative forestry conservation and climate change solutions that promote eco-equity in western China. The Shan Shui ("Mountain Water") Conservation Center is an NGO based in Beijing at Peking University that was founded in 2007 with support from Conservation International. Shan Shui's principle focus is to establish ecological areas that demonstrate innovative conservation solutions that are based on traditional knowledge and culture, science, market-based incentives and nature-friendly public policy. Such solutions aim to empower local communities to conserve nature with pride, confidence and livelihood incentives. Three speakers from Shan Shui will talk about projects they have carried out over the past five years in Sichuan Province to empower local communities to protect forests and other natural resources in ways that promote sustainable livelihoods.

Additionally, Kerstin Canby will present results from Forest Trends' ongoing work in China documenting central and local government experiments in market-based environmental policy instruments, and in particular payment for environmental services (PES) eco-compensation programs. She will highlight examples of how Chinese local governments have been rapidly adapting centrally designed eco-compensation programs to their own needs, creating "hybrids" — programs that weave together multiple central and provincial policies and funding sources — and creating their own distinct initiatives that often feed back into central government policy development. While not an exhaustive review of PES programs in China, Forest Trends' work provides an overview of a range of policy innovations for protecting watershed ecosystem services, developing carbon markets, conserving forests and biodiversity, improving landscape amenities and combating desertification in China. Kerstin will also discuss how Forest Trends is collaborating with the Asian Development Bank to provide policy support to the National Development and Reform Commission as it formulates a national eco-compensation policy framework, and possibly a law, in preparation for the 12th Five-Year Program.

Location: 6th Floor Flom Auditorium, Woodrow Wilson Center. Directions

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