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SCIO press conference on water management and national water security

China.org.cn | September 25, 2023


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This year, the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council released opinions on strengthening water and soil conservation in the new era. May I inquire about the effectiveness of the work in this field and how the regulation over human-induced water loss and soil erosion will be enhanced in next steps? Thank you.

Li Guoying:

The issue of water and soil loss is closely related to systematic watershed governance. Mr. Yao Wenguang, please answer the questions.

Yao Wenguang:

Thank you for your questions. Since the issuance of the opinions, the MWR has diligently implemented the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. We have promptly formulated implementation plans, clarified implementation measures, outlined the division of responsibilities, and specified work requirements to facilitate the execution of various tasks. According to the latest monitoring results from the MWR, the national soil erosion area decreased to 2.6534 million square kilometers in 2022, a reduction of 83,500 square kilometers compared to 2018. The situation of soil erosion in China has been reversed step by step, and ecosystems improved steadily .

First, we have prioritized protection and employed the strictest regulations and most rigorous rule of law to safeguard water and soil resources and strictly control any increase in human-induced soil erosion. We have comprehensively implemented the Soil and Water Conservation Law and strengthened ongoing and ex post oversight. Using tools like satellite remote sensing, we have achieved complete coverage of remote sensing supervision for soil and water conservation in production and construction projects, allowing us to promptly detect and address relevant violations in accordance with laws and regulations.

Second, we have persisted in systematic governance and adopted a scientific approach to comprehensively address soil erosion, aiming to rapidly reduce existing erosion. We have prioritized regions such as major rivers' upper and middle reaches, the black soil region in northeastern China, the karst region in southwestern China, the water source areas of the South-North Water Diversion Project, and the Three Gorges Reservoir area. We have implemented national key soil and water conservation projects tailored to local conditions while ardently promoting the construction of ecologically clean small water basins.

Third, we have persisted in reform and innovation, strengthening the management capabilities and standards of soil and water conservation while enhancing the quality of soil erosion control. We have established a system for soil and water conservation rates, encompassing the national, provincial, city, and county levels. We have advocated for creating inter-ministerial coordination mechanisms and a responsibility system for soil and water conservation targets. These measures will help expedite the development of a soil and water conservation framework in which Party committees exercise leadership, the government assumes responsibility, departments coordinate, and the public from all sectors participate.

Regarding strengthening the supervision of human-induced soil erosion, we will focus on the following three aspects:

First, we will establish a comprehensive supervision system for soil and water conservation that encompasses the entire chain and process. We will implement soil and water conservation plans for production and construction projects in accordance with the law and enhance comprehensive supervision at every stage. The standards for preventing and controlling soil and water erosion during production and construction activities will be improved. We will also set differentiated and targeted requirements based on the unique characteristics of different regions and industries, facilitating the implementation of classified and precise regulations.

Second, we will establish a precise and efficient regulatory mechanism. We will adopt a new regulatory framework that relies primarily on remote sensing supervision, complemented by key regulatory measures and based on credit supervision. Comprehensive and regular remote sensing oversight for soil and water conservation will be carried out. Illegal activities will be strictly investigated and addressed in accordance with the law. We will implement a full-scale credit evaluation for soil and water conservation, minimizing interference with compliant enterprises while focusing our intensive regulatory efforts on non-compliant enterprises and high-risk projects. We will enhance tracking and early warning for human-induced soil erosion risks, and aim to make our regulatory measures more precise and intelligent.

Third, we will strengthen inter-departmental coordination in supervision and law enforcement. We will establish mechanisms to ensure that administrative law enforcement aligns with criminal justice and collaborates with public interest litigation led by prosecutorial authorities to fully leverage the role of judicial oversight. Through strengthened collaborative regulation, we will ensure enterprises fulfill their responsibilities in soil and water conservation. Thank you.

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