With one of the lowest per capita freshwater resources in the world, China have been investing in and seeking new ideas and methods for improving both supply side and demand side management of water resources. This has included numerous experiments in “eco-compensation”. These experiences demonstrate that eco-compensation should be considered as a potential tool for Integrated River Basin Management to address financing shortfalls, identify management pitfalls, and convince key stakeholders to participate.
Rapid urbanisation has led to widespread settlements of floodplains, resulting in widespread vulnerability of livelihoods. Since traditional approaches are no longer sufficient, a more integrated flood management approach was realised to adapt to changing social, hydrological, and environmental conditions along the nation’s major waterways. Furthermore, the Ministry of Water Resources prepared a national flood management strategy. The crucial lesson is that the key to flood risk management is learning to live with flood risks.
China is faced with significant costs regarding floods and degradation of ecological conditions in the Yangtze River basin. As a response, the application of Ecosystem Function Conservation Areas approach has been initiated not only to increase water retention capacity and reduce sediment loads, but also to provide benefits in biodiversity, carbon sequestration and sustainable land management. The key lesson is that success is easier to achieve with positive natural and political conditions.
China is at the heart of debates around the perceived trade-off between economic growth and environmental protection. Since the early 1990s, the country has experienced remarkable economic growth, lifting nearly 600 million people out of poverty and averaging a per capita GDP growth rate of 8.9%. The question of how to release water to growing urban areas and industries while continuing to increase farm production and rural incomes is therefore something of a political headache.Since 2000, the government’s desire to build an ‘ecological civilization’ has meant greater integration of economic development, environmental protection and poverty reduction in the country’s most important national planning documents and policy agendas. Promoting more efficient agricultural water use can encourage economic growth and is a good investment. China’s success in releasing water from its agricultural sector has allowed its industry and services to use the water saved to grow.
The Ziquejie Terrace is one of the three famous Chinese ancient terraces in Hunan Province. The crops cultivated in the terraces can manage to thrive through drought and flood without reservoir or other water storage constructions. This traditional primitive gravity irrigation system is a model for ecological construction of irrigation systems. However, the mechanism of Gravity Irrigation and water allocation within Ziquejie Terrace has not been well revealed, which to large extent affects the efficiency of environmental and ecological protection for this extraordinary natural reserve.
Zhang River runs through Shanxi Province, Hebei Province and Henan Province as the border of Hebei and Henan Provinces. Within the basin, there is a large population but inadequate water and land resources. The residents of the villages along the river only have a small amount of valley terraces and flood land barely meeting their survival demand.
Qingdao city, with more than 5 million inhabitants, suffers from an acute water shortage. Its water resources are unevenly distributed, both temporally and spatially. Qingdao’s urban water system also faces an inevitable rise in energy intensity and carbon emissions.
After some devastating floods in the Yangtze, the Chinese government took action and issued a policy to counter floods, including wetland restoration. WWF further assisted and developed four pilot sites to demonstrate the benefits of wetland restoration for biodiversity, and to seek alternative income options for farmers, based on the sustainable use of wetlands. This case illustrates the value of a participatory approach.
The Yangtze River Basin has been severely affected by climate change. To address this, the Yangtze River Basin Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation Report has been drafted to evaluate the impact on representative ecosystems and water resources, and pinpoint adaptation strategies. The experience has demonstrated that good adaptation measures should consider not only climate itself, but also other factors, such as economy, technology, as well as social and cultural norms.
The district of Tikamgarh has faced severe water scarcity. Action was thus taken to implement concrete measures to restore the water bodies in the surrounding area. Together with relevant stakeholders, the district administration initiated and implemented the project. The key lesson to draw from this case is the need for the participation by all relevant groups.