Institutional Innovation

Actual conditions in China, the serious state of environmental pollution, the critical damage already caused to ecological systems, and the increasing outcry heard from the wider public, indicate that the currently established ecological and environmental protection and management institutions and mechanisms are far from meeting the requirements necessary for the construction of an ecological civilization. Thus, the decisions taken at the Third Plenary Session clearly state that efforts shall be made in deepening the reform and that a system should be set up to bolster the development of an ecological civilization, which involves among other things accelerating institutional reform, improving the management system and mechanisms of the whole country in land space development, economic use of resources and ecological and environmental protection.

Institutional problems prevailing include a fragmentised coordination among line ministries as well as regional environmental bodies and the lack of an incentive system that rewards performance beyond compliance with the bare minimum standards. Social governance in matters of environmental protection is lacking a proper framework and although provisions exist for environmental data reporting and disclosure as well as access to information, there is a marked lack of transparency and social oversight and thus insufficient public trust in the government’s capacity to efficiently protect the environment. Last, but not least, China’s implementation mechanisms ought to be redesigned. While China makes use of total emission controls (TEC), ambient air quality standards and environmental impact assessments (EIA) as well as permits, these systems have been implemented independently of each other and should instead become functionally linked.

Sino-German Environmental Partnership

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) the Sino-German Environmental Partnership project supports the CCICED Task Force (TF) on Institutional Innovation for Environmental Protection in the Context of Ecological Civilization. The research focuses on developing a theoretical framework for the modernization of China’s environmental governance system to which GIZ is providing European and German best practices and lessons learnt on how to strengthen the ecological and environmental administration system through institutional and policy reform. Experiences from the EU and Germany allow the members of the working group to compare cross-European implementation of environmental law directives of the European Commission as well as understanding the transformative process of responsibility to protect the environment. The German Energy Transition serves as a practice case on how innovation can be initiated and pushed and what is needed in regard to laws and mechanism to foster green development. By assessing the role, function and mechanism of specific environmental agencies, new approaches to institutional innovation of environmental protection in China can be deduced and thus defined how a roadmap towards a strategic transformation of environmental management in China should look like.