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Cementing the Foundation of Scientific Development and Promoting Green Transformation- An Interpretation of the 12th National Five-Year Plan on Environmental Protection (I)

Background of the 12th National Five-Year Plan on Environmental Protection
The CPC Central Committee and the State Council pays high attention to environmental protection and make environmental plans a major component of national planning system. Since the 7th Five-Year Plan period, the government have introduced national plan on environmental protection every five year. In the 11th Five-Year Plan period, the State Council distributed the 11th National Five-Year Plan on Environmental Protection to local governments and departments in the form of state government document for the first time. This gave a strong boost to the position and enforceability of environmental plans.
In November 2008, MEP started early study of the development of the 12th Five-Year Plan on Environmental Protection. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council listened to report on the work thought of the plan and clarified the guideline, route, objectives and focus of environmental work in this period. The 12th Five-Year Plan on Environmental Protection was incorporated into the 2011 special plans for approval by the State Council.
On Dec. 15, 2011, the State Council issued the 12th National Five-Year Plan on Environmental Protection (File No. [2011] 42, hereinafter referred to as Plan), which became the first five-year environmental plan completed and approved at the beginning of the five-year phase. In 2011, the State Council issued 6 plans in the form of state government document, two of which were involved in environmental protection, namely the 12th National Five-Year Plan on Environmental Protection and Comprehensive Plan on Ecological Development and Environmental Protection of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Region. This is unprecedented in the history of China’s environmental protection.
The Plan was prepared and unveiled in a profound era. The 12th Five-Year Plan period is crucial to China’s effort of building a well-off society in an all-round way. The 12th Five-Year Plan included a set of core tasks such as transformation of economic development pattern, industrial restructuring, balanced development in different regions, strengthening technical support and people’s well being and promoting reform. The experience of international and historical development tells us that environmental protection is an important tool to promote transformation of economic development model and green development is an inevitable choice if we are to occupy the new commanding height. In the key stage of transforming development model, it is our mission to prepare an environmental plan that will propel green development and transformation. In the meantime, the national environmental system reached the consensus of accelerating historical transformation and exploring a new path to environmental protection after the 6th National Conference on Environmental Protection. A series of productive activities followed, leading to profound changes in the relationship between environmental protection and economic development. This has enriched the guidance and strategies for the 12th National Five-Year Plan on Environmental Protection.
Compilation of the Plan
Based on the principle of making the Plan at the beginning of the five-year phase, the research and compilation started at the end of 2008. With in-depth research, thorough consultation and review, extensively seeking advice and repeated improvement, the final draft of the Plan was completed and approved by the State Council for implementation. The compilation ended in success which was credited to the following elements.
First, there was strong leadership and effective organization. The leading Party members' group of MEP paid high attention to the preparation. Since the compilation was started in 2008, the leading Party members' group has held 4 meetings within the group and over 20 ministerial meetings. It made arrangement on the preparation work at the national conference on environmental protection and national work meeting on finance of environmental departments for three consecutive years. MEP minister responsible for the Plan held a dozen of workshops on different occasions and made investigations. The preparation work was strongly supported by related departments of MEP, organizations and localities. Compilation of the plan was a process of science-based decision making that represented democracy. It absorbed the wisdom and consensus of all parties and served as a support and action plan for implementing the Outline for the Twelfth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and Opinions of the State Council on Strengthening the Key Tasks of Environmental Protection.
Second, actions were taken to enrich experience. During the 11th Five-Year Plan period, environmental work progressed with remarkable achievement thanks a set of arrangement made by the government and joint effort of all parties. To give full review of the implementation of the plans, assessment of five-year environmental plans was launched for the first time. In 2008, MEP and NDRC jointly carried out mid-term assessment on the 11th Five-Year Plan on Environmental Protection. The assessment report was reviewed by the 99th State Council executive meeting in January 2009 and the assessment results were issued jointly by MEP and NDRC. Built on the work, MEP teamed up with NDRC in 2010 to start final assessment of the 11th Five-Year Plan on Environmental Protection. State Council departments and local governments attached great importance to it and completed report on plan implementation on time. MEP set related staff the task of preparing a repot on final assessment of the 11th Five-Year Plan on Environmental Protection by taking account of the investigation result of total pollution reduction, the 11th Five-Year Plan on Prevention and Control of Water Pollution in Key River Basins and review and quantitative assessment on the implementation of these plans by all regions. The assessment results indicated that the role of environmental protection in promoting balanced and sustainable social economic development has strengthened considerably and investment and capacity building in environmental protection increased by a large margin. Great achievement was made in pollution control and total pollution reduction and the main targets and key tasks set out by the 11th Five-Year Plan on Environmental Protection were accomplished in success. The implementation of the Plan in all provinces went smoothly and their performance was all rated above good.
Third, the preparation work embodied the joint effort and wisdom of a large number of organizations and scholars. Drawing upon the results of Macro Strategic Study on China’s Environment, National Census on Pollution Sources and the Program of Control and Management of Water Body Pollution, the Plan set up over 60 topics in connection with the key areas of the 12th Five-Year Plan period such as environmental economic situation, priorities of pollution control, strategies for pollution reduction, policy measures and investment. 70 institutes with rich experience and research foundation were openly selected across China including Chinese Academy of Sciences, Development Research Center of the State Council, Peking University and Academy of Macroeconomic Research, NDRC. More than 1000 experts from different industries and fields were invited to participate in the preparation work. They produced research results of over 5 million characters and brought forth a set of police and technical schemes. Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning and other supporting institutions carried out comprehensive research focusing on the basis, situation, pressure, targets and indicators, key tasks, engineering and major policies. Their effort provided solid scientific basis for the research and preparation of the Plan.
Fourth, the preparation was featured by seeking advice and encouraging public participation. MEP has taken various measures to encourage public participation and extensively sought comments and suggestions on the Plan. A special column - Proposals for the 12th Five-Year Plan was launched on the website of the ministry to collect people’s suggestions. More than 5000 copies of environmental questionnaire were issued nationwide to learn about people’s needs and opinions on environmental plans. All kinds of expert consultation meeting, seminars and workshops involving 1000 person-times were held to hear the comments and suggestions of the public, grassroots environmental workers, domestic and international experts.
Fifth, the Plan was reviewed by many parties to ensure science-based decision making. Effort was made to thoroughly analyze and review the indicators set up in the Plan to ensure the targets were defined rationally. The preparation team studied the potential and capacity for pollution reduction of over 10,000 polluters one by one, which helped to form the national control target and thought. The environmental quality targets were set by repeated analysis of water quality monitoring data of over 1000 monitoring sections above provincial level in the past decade and air quality monitoring data of over 300 cities above prefecture level.
With more than 1000 experts participating in research, consultation and review, tens of millions data used and collected and nearly 1000 consultations, workshops and review meetings held, the effort was represented in the 5 million-character research report and over 100 revised drafts. This made the Plan a crystallization of wisdom of all environmental staff featuring solid foundation, thorough research, smooth connection, precision in review, standardized procedure and scientific decision making. The Plan embodied long time practice, exploration of methods and valuable experiences. On Mar. 31, 2011, the expert team consisting of academicians and experts in environment, economics, policy and law gave a rigorous review to the Plan. They spoke highly of the Plan and unanimously agreed the Plan pass the review.
Sixth, the compiling group took account of opinions from all sides and brought them to consensus. In the process of preparation, the work group sought advice from 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities and 23 state departments under the State Council (repeated consultations were made with key ministries). Such consultations were made with leaders of provincial EPBs, delegates to the 2011 national work meeting on environmental protection in the form of letters or workshops and discussions. The national environmental advisory board and MEP’s science and technology board were consulted twice. The work group received over 2000 feedbacks in writing and studied them one by one through full investigation and review. A consensus with all parties was finally reached after rounds of coordination, communication, serious research and revision.

(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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