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Improving the Environmental Monitoring Level from All Facets and Striving to Explore a New Path for Environmental Protection in China

--Speech by Minister Zhou Shengxian at the Meeting in Memory of the 30th Anniversary of China National Environmental Monitoring Center


Guests and comrades,

Today, we gather here to hold a grand ceremony to commemorate the 30th anniversary of China National Environmental Monitoring Center. I would like to, on behalf of Ministry of Environmental Protection, send warm congratulations to the entire in-service and retired staff of China National Environmental Monitoring Center, express sincere regards to those working in the environmental monitoring frontline, and pay great respect to personages from all walks of life who have always concerned and supported the environmental monitoring undertaking.

This year is the final year of the 11th Five-Year Plan period and a key year for designing the environmental train of thoughts for the 12th Five-Year Plan. Looking back to the passing five years, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council have put environmental protection at a key position and proposed a series of new concepts such as building conservation culture, facilitating historical transformations, rehabilitating the rivers and lakes, regarding environmental protection as an important issue concerning people's well being, and exploring a new path for environmental protection in China. The most outstanding achievement during these five years was to have accomplished the environmental tasks set out in the 11th Five-Year Plan and hit the emission reduction targets in advance. The most impressive achievement was to have balanced and integrated the environmental protection with economic development and improvement of people's well being, carried forward the innovations, advanced with the times, and made some achievements. The remarkable achievements made in environmental protection could be attributed to the practices in exploring a new path for environmental protection in China. The extensive in-service workers in the national environmental protection system are those who explore a new path for environmental protection in China, and the retired staff are the pioneers in this regard. We all help build and own the environmental protection mansion, stand together through storm and stress, and share weal or woe. I hope that we can make concerted efforts and forge ahead during the great course to explore a new path for environmental protection in China, and make more splendid achievements.

The Recommendations of the CPC Central Committee on Developing the Twelfth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development, which was considered and adopted at the fifth plenum of the 17th CPC National Committee, proposed for the first time the need to work harder on improving the conservation culture level by the leverage of accelerating the building of a resource-saving and environment-friendly society. It was never mentioned in the documents issued by Central authorities before and had provisions on many aspects, for example, focusing on settling prominent environmental problems that damage the public health, such as unsafe drinking water and air and soil pollution, strengthen the pollution reduction and treatment, subject more kinds of major pollutants to the total emission amount control, cut down the emissions by a large margin, and remarkably improve the ecological environment. It marked a new historical starting point for environmental protection and a new and precious opportunity. We should cherish, seize, and take good advantage of this opportunity, and in the practice to explore a new path for environmental protection in China, constantly achieve breakthroughs and try to facilitate the leap-forward development of the environmental protection cause during the 12th Five-Year Plan period.

Environmental problems are in nature problems concerning the economic structure, production mode, consumption mode, and development path. Correct economic policies lead to correct environmental policies and vice versa. To discuss environmental protection without economic development is as much as climbing a tree to catch a fish, and to discuss economic development without environmental protection is as much as draining the pond to get the fish in it. China is and will be in the preliminary stage of socialism in the long run. To protect the environment during this stage is the hardest when most complicated problems will be met. We will by no means protect the environment by suspending development during this stage and will neither allow pollution. Development is the first priority while environment is an important support. Only do we base ourselves on basic national conditions, grasp in scientific manner the rules for environment and development, and manage to balance and integrate environmental protection with economic development, can we facilitate the comprehensive, balanced and sustainable development of the economy and society.

To protect the environment is the major platform and fundamental approach to build conservation culture. The major tool to improve conservation culture level is to actively explore a sustainable new path for environmental protection in China which has little cost, good benefits, and low emissions. "Little cost” means to balance the environmental protection with economic development, and support a larger scale economic activities with minimum resources and environment. "Good benefits” means to make overall plans for environmental protection and economic and social development, and seek the best environmental, economic and social benefits. "Low emissions” means to integrate the pollution prevention and control with environmental treatment, and minimize the environmental damages caused by economic and social activities with appropriate environmental treatment cost. "Sustainable” means to integrate the environmental protection with long-term development and constantly facilitate the sustainable economic and social development by way of building a resource-saving and environment-friendly society.

Innovation is the gene for development. Only constant innovation can solve complicated problems in realities and facilitate the development of environmental protection cause. To explore a new path for environmental protection in China, we need to deepen the understanding of environmental protection with new concepts, grasp the development opportunities for environmental protection cause with new visions, facilitate the environmental protection work to make greater achievements with new practices, maintain the constant development of environmental protection cause with new institutions and mechanisms, and design the future for environmental protection with new train of thoughts. We should, in accordance with the requirements for building a new path for environmental protection in China, pay close attention to developing the following systems in compliance with basic national conditions, that is, the environmental protection macro strategies, the overall prevention and control system, sound and effective environmental treatment system, sound environmental laws, regulations, policies and standards, complete environmental management system, and a social action system participated by the whole nation. This is the target for exploring a new path for environmental protection in China.

In the future, each and every task for environmental protection should be aimed at this target, and every step forward should get us closer instead of farther to this target. With more and more practices, the efforts to explore a new path for environmental protection in China will certainly have a qualitative leap with measured accumulation, and realize the historical leap from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom.

The key to establishing the six major systems for exploring a new path for environmental protection lies in manpower, that is, cadres loyal to the environmental protection cause. Ranks of excellent talents are the important force and guarantee for exploring such a path. Appointing the right man, the environmental protection cause will be full of vigor; otherwise, there is no hope for it. We should, considering the environmental tasks, make good arrangements for the senior cadres so that they can be well provided and make some contribution in their remaining years; put middle-aged cadres in key departments and positions and let them play their roles; and cultivate the young cadres whole-heartedly and create good environment for their development.

It has been proved by the development course of environmental protection undertaking that environmental monitoring is an important support for pursuing a new path for environmental protection. The State decided to establish China National Environmental Monitoring Center in 1980, which officially initiated the environmental monitoring work at national level. The first generation of the staff coming from all sectors and corners in the country to work in the Center worked, studied and developed the Center in extremely tough and rough conditions, inaugurated the groundwork for national environmental monitoring, and based on the 64 key monitoring stations built during the sixth and seventh Five-Year Plan periods, set up and improved the national environmental monitoring network. The environmental monitoring undertaking has entered a fast lane for development during the 11th Five-Year Plan period, especially since the foundation of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The MEP Department of Environmental Monitoring was established and the staffing of the Center increased from 100 to 190. There have been 2,492 environmental monitoring agencies all over the country, with over 53,000 monitoring staff. In June this year, MEP, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, and All-China Federation of Trade Unions inaugurated the first national skill contest among environmental monitoring technicians and improved the overall capacity of the environmental monitoring rank.

In general, China National Environmental Monitoring Center has made the following remarkable achievements through constant innovation over the past three decades: first, focusing on improving the environmental monitoring technologies, it has developed the technical route for national environmental monitoring work as well as the majority of the environmental monitoring technological criteria, regulations, standards and methods; second, with the monitoring of ambient air and surface water as the breach, it has established automatic surface water monitoring network which covers major waters in China as well as the automatic air quality monitoring network in 113 key cities for environmental protection; third, by focusing on guaranteeing good environmental quality, it has been vigorously engaged in emergency monitoring during environmental emergencies and monitoring for guaranteeing good environmental quality for important national events; fourth, under the policy of "basing the Center on technologies and developing the Center by talents”, it has a rank of talents headed by members with Chinese Academy of Sciences or Chinese Academy of Engineering, backed up by research fellows and comprised mainly of secondary and senior technicians.

However, we should be fully aware of the serious environmental situation and growing pressure ahead in addition to our established achievements. We should have sense of urgency and sense of responsibility, base ourselves on the past achievements and continue to forge ahead. The achievements are the past and fighting is needed for the future.

The 12th Five-Year Plan period is a period with strategic opportunity for the leap-forward development of the environmental protection cause in our country. The environmental monitoring work is the groundwork for developing environmental protection cause, and without solid basis, the earth shakes and mountains move. The faster the development of the environmental protection cause is, the more it depends on the solid basis of environmental monitoring work. If we are to make new achievements by environmental monitoring in terms of facilitating conservation culture and exploring a new path for environmental protection in China, we must make overall plans for the nation-wide environmental monitoring work, build cohesion in the rank of environmental monitoring technicians, and integrate the sky-earth monitoring technologies, manage to elaborate the environmental quality and changing trends, pollution discharging conditions and environmental risks, and uphold the following four principles, so as to provide better services.

First, we should unswervingly stick to the concept of doing monitoring in a scientific manner, basing the Center on technologies and developing the Center by talents. We should champion science, pursue truth, run business according to scientific standards, criteria and rules, and produce scientific data and reports; give the first priority to improving the technological capacity for the development of the Center, and seek survival and development by technologies; establish a rank of high-quality talents and create a new phase for the development of the Center.

Second, we should uphold our position to support environmental protection work and serve people's well-being. We should work harder to share environmental information, do environmental monitoring concerning people's well-being, and do the monitoring in the countryside, substantially meeting the requirement of "escorting the scientific development, and sparing no effort in protecting people's health”.

Third, we should stick to the goals of "clearly stating three aspects, realizing first-class in four aspects, and building into five centers”. With the central task of "clearly stating three aspects” (conditions of the pollution sources, the status quo and trend of changes in environmental qualities, as well as potential environmental risks) in environmental monitoring, and through the platform of national environmental monitoring network, the Center should work with local stations to accomplish environmental monitoring tasks, produce monitoring products with core competitiveness and brands, try hard during the Center's transformation to meet the goals of owning first-class talents, monitoring level, laboratories, and facilities and becoming a technological center, network center, data center, quality control center and training center for the nationwide environmental monitoring work, and set up an integrated sky-earth environmental monitoring system. The aim at "realizing first-class in four aspects, and building into five centers” should be the general direction pursued and fought for by the staff in the Center for now and for a period of time to come. We should, as always, through the platform of national environmental monitoring network, unite the environmental monitoring stations at all levels to complete the national environmental monitoring tasks and produce monitoring products with core competiveness and brands. Provincial and city level environmental monitoring stations should also follow the trends, adjust and finalize the mid-and long-term development plans in accordance with local conditions.

Fourth, we should seize the opportunities and work hard to improve our monitoring capacities. One must be strong to hammer iron. The Center should seize and take advantage of the crucial opportunity that the State spends more in environmental monitoring work, design the capacity building in a scientific manner, seriously study new technologies and methods, expand the monitoring area as appropriate, try hard to foster leading talents, further improve the overall quality of the rank of monitoring staff, and go all out to advance the leap-forward development and prosperity of the environmental monitoring cause.

Our cause is noble and sacred, our vision is bright and beautiful, and our responsibility is significant and glorious. "At thirty, I stood firm.” China National Environmental Monitoring Center has stood at a historical new point at the 30th anniversary. Let's ride on the tides, forge ahead, continue to explore a new path for environmental protection in China, try to improve the conservation culture level, and fight unremittingly for creating a new phase for environmental protection in China.

Thank you for your attention.

(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)

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