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Professor Bateman and colleagues from Stanford University in the USA will use techniques developed in part at LEEP to help officials in China redesign the country’s environment.

Largest environmental restoration project in the world led by Chinese, Stanford and Exeter experts

A University of Exeter expert is part of a team leading one of the largest programmes of environmental restoration in the world.

Professor Ian Bateman is helping the Chinese government analyse how they should repair natural resources following the country’s rapid industrialisation.

The move of millions of people from the countries to cities, and the rapid process of economic growth witnessed in China over recent decades has put substantial pressure upon the natural environment of the country. . More than £6 billion is currently spent each year by the Chinese Government to restore and safeguard the natural environment. University of Exeter expertise will be used to help direct where this money will be spent.

Professor Bateman and colleagues from Stanford University in the USA will use techniques developed in part at the University of Exeter’s Land, Environment, Economics and Policy (LEEP) Institute to help officials in China redesign the country’s environment.

LEEP methods will be used to assess the value of resources such as water quality. This will allow them to produce environmental accounts, which can be compared to financial accounts to see the link between natural capital and gross domestic product.

Professor Bateman said: “This is a tremendous opportunity to help shape what will almost certainly be the largest programme of environmental restoration ever carried out in the world by any country.

“The Chinese Government understands the country faces many environmental challenges, and they are committed to working to tackle them, as shown by the funding they want to use to protect China’s natural capital.

“This will involve changing the way things are done. By comparing the value of natural resources, and how this has changed over time, we can see the link between the quality of the natural environment and gross domestic product.

“In China natural resources from particular areas in the West are transported to other areas in the East to be consumed. The accounts we produce will show the impact of this, and can help analyse how much money will need to be spent to repair the natural environment so vital and fundamental resources such as water and food can be secured for the future. This programme of environmental restoration also offers the potential for addressing problems of poverty in the rural and Western areas of China

“The Chinese Government now recognises the importance of protecting natural capital and biodiversity, and they realise that the way the country operates has to change because economic growth can be limited if the environment suffers. If you don’t have supplies of clean water or food then production will falter.”

The work was started by experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Stanford University. Professor Bateman and LEEP’s role will be to help measure the value of environmental resource flows around China and to help  recommend how much money should be spent in regions to protect the environment and alleviate poverty.

The work was discussed at a recent workshop at the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China.

This is the first research collaboration between LEEP and Stanford University

Professor Gretchen Daily, from Stanford University, said: “The most important leaders in China are committed to developing a green financial system.  Ian Bateman and the whole fabulous team at LEEP will play crucial roles in co-developing the possible design and operation of this system. 

“We made key advances in Guangzhou, establishing core design principles for the natural capital accounts underpinning the system, and their links to policy. This work holds great promise for transformational change in China and beyond.”

Date: 15 February 2017

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