As the world’s most populous country, China is home to nearly 20% of the world’s people. It is also one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, housing nearly 12% of the world’s plants and 10% of the world’s animal population. Today much of this biodiversity is at risk.
The unparalleled scale and speed of industrialization and urbanization in China over the last 30 years has led to unprecedented economic growth, but has also taken a toll on the nation’s environment and biodiversity. Among the hardest-hit ecosystems are valuable wetlands and natural forests. Moreover, critical ecosystem functions have been adversely affected, leading to a 20% decline in vascular plants and a 44% overall decline in the nation’s wildlife population.
The good news is that China’s leaders and the Chinese public increasingly recognize the need to balance economic growth and conservation. The recognition that economic growth and conservation are two sides of the same coin presents an opportunity for the Paulson Institute to support China in making marked progress in the area of conservation. We believe that economic growth and ecological conservation must go hand-in-hand.