Sustainable Development in Western China

Sustainable Development in Western China

Managing People, Livestock and Grasslands in Pastoral Areas

Colin G. Brown

This much-needed study provides a unique examination of the intricate web of policies and institutions that now impact on grassland degradation and sustainable development in China’s pastoral region. Understanding this complex matrix and its impact on the management of people, livestock, grasslands, markets and industry structures is crucial in charting a way forward. The authors argue that the aim should be to manage these inter-locking complex systems in a manner that takes advantage of the opportunities that technology present to achieve sustainable use of the grasslands.

Chapter 9: Unique Problems — Unique Solutions

Colin G. Brown

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, development studies, asian development, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, environment, asian environment


Premier Wen Jiabao in his annual report to the National People’s Congress in March 2007 placed the environment as well as the sustained development of China’s western region at the top of the Chinese government’s agenda. Finding solutions to grassland degradation and hence achieving sustainable development in China’s pastoral region are at the core of these priorities. The way in which the government deals with the challenges of grassland degradation and improving herder livelihoods therefore will test their commitment and capacity to address these key national priorities. Legislative changes, policy pronouncements, the allocation (or planned allocation) of additional resources, and the initiation of new national projects all suggest a genuine commitment by the Chinese government to deal with these ecological and livelihood issues. The environmental, social and political costs of ignoring these problems are simply too high to be overlooked. What is less obvious, however, is whether the existing policy approach is capable of effectively dealing with these issues. The challenges confronting the government in addressing these issues are more complex and difficult than many other transition and growth issues it has had to deal with since the late 1970s. Drawing together much of the earlier discussion, this chapter reflects on how the Chinese government is currently tackling the crucial management issues involved with the complex ecological and socio-economic systems in the vast pastoral areas of western China. Some suggestions are made for what may need to be done to achieve the government policy agenda as it scales...

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