Paulson Institute and National Development Reform Commission launch collaboration on national park system development in China

BeijingAt a signing ceremony today in Beijing, the Paulson Institute and the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC) officially announced a three-year cooperative partnership to develop China’s emerging national park system.

The partnership will advance the Chinese government’s plan to pilot the country’s national park system in nine provinces by exploring optimum models and practices for a system that fits the Chinese context and also reflects international standards and best practices.

China is a vast country with many beautiful landscapes, diverse cultures and rich biodiversity. Sustaining the health of critical ecosystem functions and valuable natural and cultural treasures is fundamental to the wellbeing of the Chinese people. China is facing the huge challenge of satisfying the needs of its population while securing the country’s ecosystem services along with its natural and cultural wealth.

At present, China has thousands of protected areas in different categories, including nature reserves, scenic areas, world heritage sites, forest parks and geological parks. These protected areas cover about 18% of China’s total land territory, above the world’s average. However, due to many legislative, policy, governance and management challenges, these protected areas are not sufficiently safeguarding China’s rich and unique biodiversity and ecologically critical ecosystems and effectively preserving diverse natural and cultural resources.

Realizing the need to strengthen the system for managing protected areas, the Chinese government announced the decision to establish a national park system in November 2013. The plan is an important step in the development of an “eco-civilization” and the effort to deepen reforms. In January, China unveiled the Pilot Plan for Development of China’s National Park System. China’s emerging national park system has the potential to complement and expedite the reform of existing protected areas in China. With the help of the Paulson Institute, the national park models that have proven successful in the United States and other countries around the world will offer some solutions to answer these challenges in China.

“In the United States, our national parks are an important source of shared national pride and cultural identity, as well as treasured natural resources for the public to enjoy,” Paulson Institute Chairman Henry M. Paulson, Jr., said at the signing ceremony. “We are honored and delighted to be working with China to help develop a comprehensive and effective system of protected areas by adding national parks into the system.”

With its headquarters in the United States, where the national park model was pioneered more than 100 years ago and has grown into an international paradigm, the Paulson Institute is well positioned to bring in the US experience and best practices to accelerate development of the national park system in China. The Institute will invite leading American experts to provide technical support to the research and planning projects launched jointly with the NDRC and facilitate training and capacity building activities for Chinese officials and park managers. The Institute’s partnership with the NDRC on national parks will contribute positively to the fostering of a more constructive relationship between China and the U.S.

This initiative between the Paulson Institute and the NDRC is made possible with generous support from the Heren Foundation.

The Paulson Institute is a “think and do” tank that promotes environmental protection and sustainable development in the United States and China, while advancing bilateral economic relations and cross-border investment. Established in 2011 by Henry M. Paulson, Jr., the Institute is committed to the principle that today’s most pressing economic and environmental challenges can be solved only if the United States and China work in complementary ways.

The non-partisan, independent Institute works at the nexus of economic and environmental issues in the United States and China. Its programs in China focus on improving climate and air quality, advancing ecological conservation and promoting sustainable cities. The Institute’s Think Tank publishes papers on the most important macroeconomic issues facing China today, energy strategies and issues in US-China relations. The Institute promotes bilateral cross-border investment that will improve US-China relations and help create jobs and works to reduce economic risk from climate change. The Institute is headquartered at the University of Chicago and has offices in Washington and Beijing.