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Yunnan Governor Gives Stirring Statement in Defense of Environment

Qin Guangrong’s speech highlights the need for increased protection

KUNMING, YUNNAN | December 21, 2009

In a widely lauded speech, Yunnan governor Qin Guangrong used his office to champion environmental issues, vaulting conservation to the forefront of the province’s priorities.

At a meeting for the third anniversary of the Initiative to Protect Colorful Yunnan on December 10, Qin spoke in favor of urgent action to address increasingly challenging environmental conditions in Yunnan. In front of a diverse group of government officials, scientists, and NGO representatives, he called for an environmental awakening as well as concrete conservation policies.

The speech garnered extensive media coverage and has led to thoughtful discussions throughout Yunnan, where The Nature Conservancy’s China Program is focusing its resources on a wide variety of crucial conservation opportunities.

“Ensuring perpetual clean air, clear waters, and a green and beautiful environment is our most magnificent and moral project of the century,” Qin said. His speech stressed the need for increased measures to prevent pollution, protect wildlife and maintain ecological equilibrium throughout his province.

Yunnan, China’s most diverse province, boasts a staggering array of ecosystems, from tropical rainforests in the south to the peaks of the Himalayas and four of Asia’s greatest rivers in the north. Snow leopards, Asian elephants and Yunnan golden monkeys all call the region home.

But Yunnan faces major environmental threats. Among those threats, said Qin, are increased human development and a dangerous and deepening divide between humans and the natural resources that have sustained them for generations.

“No matter how many goods we produce, or how much we change our world, as products of nature we will never be able to fully break from nature and exist independently,” he said.

With projects ranging from waste removal in the village of Yubeng to helping establish new national parks, the Conservancy is working to protect and promote Yunnan’s biodiversity while widening the awareness that Qin’s speech encouraged.

“We are overjoyed to have a partner such as Qin Guangrong in our efforts to safeguard Yunnan’s natural resources,” said Long Yongcheng, Chief Scientist of TNC China Program. “His leadership proves there’s a strengthening resolve—both in Yunnan and throughout China—to proactively solve environmental problems and ensure a future for nature and people.”

In envisioning that future, Qin looked to the past. “Throughout history, we have learned that, when humans are in harmony with nature, both humans and nature reap the benefits,” he said.

The Colorful Yunnan initiative is an effort to mobilize government and societal efforts to protect this diversity. It is focused on improving the areas of provincial environmental legislation, defining targets and responsibilities for environmental protection, realizing strict implementation of Environmental Impact Assessments, creating ecological compensation funding mechanisms, and improving the capacity of local environmental law enforcement and monitoring.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

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Jake Cohen
Conservation writer

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