Delegates from over 20 countries are meeting in Changsha, China to explore solutions to environmental problems affecting the Yangtze River.
During the three-day Yangtze Forum, government officials, experts and representatives from NGOs, including WWF, and the private sector will focus on the conservation and sustainable development of the Yangtze, including Dongting Lake, China’s second large lake and an important part of the river’s flood basin.
“The Yangtze Forum is strengthening the conservation of one of the country’s most economically and environmentally important rivers,” said James Leape, Director General of WWF International.
“It is important to coordinate the management and development of the river basin so as to maximize the economic and social benefits in an equitable way while at the same time conserving freshwater ecosystems, species and services.”
According to a report released a day before the forum, the Yangtze River is threatened by potential natural disasters, such as flooding, as well as water quality deterioration and biodiversity loss due to industrial pollution and rapid economic development.
Compiled by experts from WWF, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Yangtze Forum Secretariat, the Yangtze Conservation and Development Report is the first comprehensive study that examines the overall health of the Yangtze.
“The report objectively and systematically probed into the past, current and future facts of the river’s conservation and development, which is important for the conservation of the Yangtze during development,” said Dermot O’Gorman, WWF China’s Country Representative.
In particular, the report calls for reconnecting the river with lakes in the middle and lower Yangtze, like Lake Dongting, as a crucial step in restoring and protecting the river’s ecosystem. It also suggests that reforming the current regional governing body responsible for river development is needed in order to mitigate negative impacts. Such a reform process should involve the wider participation of all stakeholders, including the central government’s agencies, local governments and communities along the river, as well as businesses and other experts.
“As a key initiator and supporter of the Yangtze Forum, we will continue our ongoing support to enhance the sustainable management of the Yangtze River for future generations,” Leape added.
The Yangtze Forum was created in 2005 as a platform to promote the active participation of all stakeholders dedicated to protecting, managing and developing the Yangtze River.
The current forum is taking place from April 15 to 17 in Changsha, Hunan Province. A third Yangtze Forum is scheduled to take place in Shanghai in 2009.
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