China’s President Xi is passionately attached to the theme of ‘ Ecological civilization’. While many consider that it is a synonym of the green economy or sustainable development, I am convinced that it is meant to be more ingrained in the lifestyle, philosophy, and culture.
The concept of ‘Ecological Civilization’ is, in reality, is a theme that was practiced and deployed in the most thoughtful and philosophical way by the ancient civilization when it was still nomadic.
The agricultural practices that made humans leave behind their nomadic culture were the point of departure. Movement of the ecological civilization therefore serves as the reminder of the fact that unless we go back to our own practices, we would be heading for an abyss.
Surprisingly, it was environmental experts from the Soviet Union that propounded the practice of is “Ecological Culture” as part of spreading socialism. Chinese experts keenly adopted it and called it生态文明 (shēngtài wénmíng), or ecological civilization. It was picked up in China’s environmental circles particularly in the context of agricultural practices. In 2012, a year before President XI became head of the state, the Communist Party of China included the goal of achieving the ecological civilization in its constitution and started featuring in its five-year plan.
Since then President Xi has passionately spread the culture and practice of Ecological Civilization which in reality he was committed to since 2005 when he was Party Secretary in Zhejiang province, now China’s second-largest province in terms of economic activity.
President Xi is an engineer from the prestigious Tsinghua University. Like any engineer, he is dedicated to establishing the demonstration of what he believes in. He has created the models in the packets of many provinces to practice the ecological civilization in real life and how it would reflect in GDP, trade, economy, environmental protection, and the common man.
I attended the review forum the first Pu’er (International) Ecological Civilization and the 4th Pu’er Green Development Forum Conference in Beijing in Oct 2018. Pu’er is the city in Yunnan Province and chosen a place to test ecological civilization. My speech in front of an audience of thousands was titled “ Greening the Brown: Paradigm Shift in Economy towards Sustainable Development” wherein I presented how youth-to-youth dialogue between India and China can catalyze ecological civilization and green economy promoted by United Nations.
In Nov 2019 I attended the First Qiandao lake forum which is also developing as President Xi’s demonstration for ecological civilization. President Xi was party chief Secretary in Zhejiang province from 2002 to 2007 after acting as governor there. That was his first appointment as party chief of the important province.
That time he undertook a number of daring projects related to ecological civilization much before that term was officially adopted by the Communist Party of China. One of them was the development of Xinjiang village on the banks of Qiandao lake. The village is called as ‘ the place where the dream comes from’. I visited the village in the evening and the next day gave the presentation. I gave a presentation in the magnificent auditorium named ‘Water-Spirit’. The audience of 3000 listened to my speech titled, Global Water Challenge: Youth-Action for Eco-civilization. My key message was “in the flood of crisis, keep lucid water flowing through the lush mountains”. I borrowed the terminology made famous by President Xi in 2017 that “Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets”. It has now become a slogan as part of ecological civilization.