Spatial Planning for Environmental Protection


The third meeting of the Central Commission for Comprehensively Deepening Reform was chaired by Xi Jinping on November 11th. This Central Commission emerged from the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reform in 2018, and it is mainly responsible for top-level policymaking, overall planning, coordination, holistic development, and supervising the implementation of policies . At this meeting, five documents were adopted to provide new top-level framework directions for China’s economic development, and two of them are related to ecological environment protection:

1) The Opinions on Comprehensively Promoting the Building of a Beautiful China. At the Conference, President Xi emphasised that the goal of building a beautiful China is a key component of building a modern socialist country that should be basically achieved by 2035.He pointed out the need to pursue pollution abatement efforts, improve and secure the ecosystems, and accelerate the green transition. The meeting also emphasized that efforts should be intensified in addressing prominent ecological issues, constructing ecological civilisation institutions, mobilising the whole nation, and enhancing organisational leadership . Earlier this year, President Xi mentioned at the 9th National Environmental Conference that systematic deployments for the comprehensive advancement of building a beautiful China would be made soon . This Opinions are intended as a top-level roadmap for advancing ecological civilisation construction and institutional reforms . One can also note the new emphasis on the role of citizens, and on the fact that ecological civilisation construction should respond to the new expectations of the people for improvement in the ecological environment, and the insistence on the fact that nationwide efforts are necessary to help reach the 2035 goal.

2) The Guidelines on Strengthening the Zoning Control of Ecological Environment. At the conference, President Xi suggested strengthening the top-level policymaking and improving the relevant institutions to facilitate the realisation of differentiated and precise zoning control of ecological environment, with the objective of safeguarding ecological functions and enhancing environmental quality. Furthermore, it was noted at the meeting that it is important to implement the principal functional zone strategy, align territorial spatial planning and land use control, focus on regional and watershed-based eco-environmental problems, and improve the zoning control plan and measures. The responsibilities of governments at different levels should also be implemented . One expert argues that the principal functional zone strategy clarifies the scope and boundaries of key ecological function areas. These Guidelines highlight the importance of designing targeted and precise policies tailored to the characteristics of different ecosystems within these areas so as to better prevent vulnerability problems in ecosystems at their roots.