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China’s industrial sector contributed more than 40% of the country’s GDP in 2017 but was also responsible for more than two-thirds of overall environmental pollution.

Given that the industrial sector is primarily located in industrial parks (IPs), greening IPs and transforming them into ‘eco-industrial parks’ (EIP) will be key, says a new World Bank report.

The report, titled Enhancing China’s Regulatory Framework for Eco-Industrial Parks: Comparative Analysis of Chinese and International Green Standards, notes that considerable progress has been made in building a comprehensive green regulatory framework for IPs, but underscores that fewer than 5% of industrial parks in China are green-certified today.

The regulatory framework could also be further enhanced, the report argues, by aligning it more closely with the International Eco-Industrial Park (EIP) framework recently developed by the UN Industrial Organization (UNIDO), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the World Bank Group.

Advancing green standards

“We hope that this report will contribute to advance green standards for industrial parks in China and elsewhere, and help create a cleaner environment to benefit not just Chinese citizens but the rest of the world as well,” said Martin Raiser, World Bank country director for China.

China has increased its GDP per capita by more than 25 times in the past four decades.

This historically unprecedented economic performance has however exacted a heavy toll on the environment. Consequently, China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) has made the building of an “ecological civilization” a top priority.

“The greening of the China’s industrial sector will determine the success of the ecological civilization,” said Marcin Piatkowski, the bank senior economist and lead author of the report.

Piatkowski added: “This new report aims to help the government to leverage the newly developed global standards to accelerate the greening of Chinese industrial parks.”

International EIP standards

The report compares the Chinese and the international EIP standards across four dimensions – park management, economic, social and environmental performance — to identify differences and develop actionable recommendations on how to further upgrade the EIP regulatory framework in China.

The report highlights several major challenges that China needs to tackle in promoting EIPs, including improving IPs’ environmental evaluation and monitoring, strengthening incentives for IPs to become green-certified, and enhancing access to data.

To meet these challenges, the report offers seven key recommendations:

  • Introduce more ambitious targets to increase the number of EIPs.
  • Consolidate, update and streamline EIP standards.
  • Seek an optimal set of indicators to balance economic competitiveness and environmental protection.
  • Improve data collection and analysis to compare IPs’ performance against domestic and international EIP standards.
  • Strengthen enforcement of existing regulations
  • Adopt a specific law on IP management.
  • Leverage green finance for EIP development.

The World Bank is working with Jiangxi Province on a new “Greening Fuzhou High Tech Zone Project” to demonstrate the first application of the EIP framework in China.

To read the full report, click here